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Santa Barbara Hikes

Manzana Narrows Description

Manzana Narrows

The hike begins at the end of Nira Campground at the large informational sign marking the San Rafael Wilderness area.

1 tenth mile, cross the river. This is the Manzana River and we will be following it all the way to the Narrows.

At about 1 mile, cross the river at a shaley spot with an inviting pool to the left. This shaley spot is the turn off to Lost Valley trail. To continue on the Manzana Trail, follow the well marked path into the brush growing in the creekbed.

Walk on sand with cut up logs and boulders strewn about.

At 2 miles is Fish Creek Campground. This makes a nice rest spot if it is a hot day.

At 2.25 miles the canyon to the right is Sulfur Spring Canyon. Not the same Sulfur as the Sulfur Creek that the Lost Valley Trail follows.

Continue on Manzana Trail. The trail travels on relatively level terrain paralleling the creek. The trail is exposed because the vegetation is sparse. There are a few ups and downs, and creek crossings here and there. Stay alert as you cross the creek for “ducks” or rocks piled on top of each other that show you the way to the trail at some creek crossings.

At about 5.5 or 6 miles, the trail takes a leftward turn up into a narrower canyon. The vegetation becomes more lush, with oak trees and some shade. The creek becomes very inviting at this point.

There is a lovely camp called Manzana Camp on the way to the Narrows. The pools in the creek are very inviting.

Continue on the trail to the Narrows. The trail heads uphill for some switchbacks, then drops back down to the creek again.

At about the 7 mile mark you reach the Narrows Camp. There are picnic tables here, but otherwise the camp is primitive. The pools are inviting and the camp is luxuriously shaded in summer, but cold in the cooler months because of the shade.

The Manzana trail continues for several more miles, connecting with Hurricane Deck at White Ledge, passing more primitive camps on the way. This is the portal to the real back country, those places that can only be reached by more than one day of walking. You are invited to consult maps and plan a backpack trip.

But this is only a day hike, and a long one at that. To return to your car, turn back the way you came for 7 miles.

Total hike mileage: 14 miles.