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Santa Barbara Hikes

Manzana Schoolhouse

Manzana Schoolhouse and Dabney Cabin

[out of 5]
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For:Long, lots of creek crossings, level.
Manzana Schoolhouse
Manzana Schoolhouse

Manzana Schoolhouse is an old schoolhouse last used around 1901 when there was a community of religious people living in the area. They once farmed along the Sisquoc River but several years of drought caused them to sell their land to the US Forest Service. The schoolhouse has been abandoned since then and ruins of their old homesteads can be found along the Sisquoc River. Dabney Cabin is an old hunting lodge from near the turn of the century and is a county historical landmark. The Manzana Schoolhouse makes a nice backpacking destination. There is a primitive campground there with picnic tables and a privy.

The trail is strenuous only because it is long and involves many river crossings that will get your feet wet. But the trail itself is quite level.

You hike in the San Rafael Wilderness area where the terrain is remote and wild. The vegetation is sparse, but in the creekbed it is riparian and relatively lush and cool. In spring there are many wildflowers.

It is 14 miles round trip to Dabney Cabin.

It is 17 miles round trip to the schoolhouse.

You will need an Adventure Pass Pass to park at the trailhead.

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Manzana Narrows is meant to accommodate large groups. It has a toilet as well as space for horses. The camp often serves as a base for trail or fire crews. I wouldn't worry that there were lots of people enjoying this location.
Posted by: Diane  on  2016-02-19
Trip report/ trail update from last weekends 2 nighter.3 pp, In out Nira to white ledge. Weather was perfect for hiking with rain expected sat. night. Parked at Nira trailhead Friday am. The trail up the Manzana to the Narrows was in excellent condition. Although it has been very dry this last year, driest I've seen back here, there was water flowing through the narrows decently. The spritz of rain the Wednesday before and the heavy rain a few weeks back really helped. Very few wildflowers were out and the grasses were faintly green, showing again the lack of water. Poison oak seemed to be flourishing so keep an eye out! Odd, we did not see any snakes and only got 2 ticks. We camped 2 nts at the old oak tree camp, most call it the Alcove but I don't think the name fits. No water there as well as no water at the falls, barely enough to pump, but enough. Only a few people out that we saw the whole weekend. Very nice indeed! After lounging around camp, bronzing and gazing, the rest of the day Friday, we set out for a nice day hike to white ledge camp on Saturday. The creek on the way down had water in it, enough so that when we got to white ledge we were able to relax in the pools, eat lunch, and enjoy the surroundings before heading back up. Stopped and saw the Magician,HHG, and looked at some of the caves and grottos near there. We definitely saw mtn lion and other critter signs in them! We felt as if we were being watched. That night Saturday the winds picked up and got real cold. Asleep by 9:30, rain came down at some point in the night but was dry in the am. Maybe got a 1/4" but was cold. A dusting of snow on Mckinley, which parted to full sun by 10 am. Sunday am, Heading back to Nira one thing that stood out was a group of 20+ teen girls and 3-4 adults. All w backpacks for overnighter or 2. While it is nice to see people out here enjoying the wilderness we couldn't help but think it was a bit too much to bring that many people in one group out in the wild at once. Think about the damage that brings. I won't name names but IMHO I think Santa Barbara adventure company is being irresponsible by doing that. We also passed a ranger who had lost his pack goat near Rays camp early in the week. Not sure if he found it but he said there was a fresh mtn lion kill near fish camp but couldn't make out the remains to be his goat. Bummer. He also said that the weekend prior there were a bunch of trail volunteers working on the trails from Nira to south fork to big cone spruce, so a very big THANK YOU to all of the volunteers that put in their time to maintain the trails, they were epic! Had a great time and look forward to getting back again. Lu-E
Posted by: Lu-E  on  2014-04-04
Hiked in to Manzana Narrows on Saturday morning. There is water from the camp after Fish Camp all the way to the Narrows. The water is flowing at the Narrows. There are trout in some of the pools near the Narrows. There was only one couple in the camp when we got there despite the abundance of cars parked at Nira. It was hot Saturday across the valley floor even with the cloud cover. Sunday was cooler with a breeze in the morning. Trail is good. None of the 18 people in our group got any ticks.
Posted by: Troop 93  on  2014-02-18
Did a quick overnighter at the Narrows. There is good, flowing water from Ray's Camp all the way up through the Narrows. Daytime temps where around 70, touched the low 40s overnight.
Posted by: kirby805  on  2013-12-28
Was on the Manzana and White Ledge Trail on Nov. 30. There was ample water along Manzana and the Narrows this weekend. Water flow near the peak of White Ledge was flowing but not strong. The falls were a trickle. Lots of puddles. The spring near the secluded camp near the summit of White Ledge is flowing weakly. Past the summit White Ledge has mainly puddles only.
Posted by: Backpacking Ben  on  2013-12-04
[b:0945f5c351]Water Report around the Hurricane Deck--Sisquoc and Manzana Rivers[/b:0945f5c351] [b:0945f5c351]Route Info and Dates:[/b:0945f5c351] Nira to Dabney Cabin 11/8/13 Daney Cabin to Abel 11/9/13 Abel to South Fork 11/10/13 South Fork to Nira 11/11/13 No water from Nira through Horseshoe Bend Small ponds past Horseshoe Bend to Dabney Ponds directly below Dabney Cabin and some ponds at crossing on way to schoolhouse No water around schoolhouse (did not go downstream to check the beaver pond area) No water from schoolhouse past Water Canyon Camp Areas of flowing water past Water Canyon Camp before Lorna Camp--no water at "Water Canyon". Some areas of flowing water between Lorna and Mormon Some water flowing after Miller Base Camp to Abel Camp Water at Abel Camp, best water downstream a short distance Fairly dry from Abel to Cliff and from Cliff to Sycamore (some ponds well below the upper trail) Sycamore is totally dry Some ponds shortly after Sycamore well below the trail, then a fairly long dry stretch to South Fork but we were on the upper trail way above the river Great water flowing around South Fork Excellent water at Lonnie Davis, still some nice pools and water flowing No water around White Ledge or Happy Hunting Ground. Small pools above Happy Hunting Ground before Alcove Water flowing from Manzana Narrows to Manzana Camp, not much after Manzana Camp Small pools below Ray's camp Did not look for water up Fish Creek, but pretty much bone dry all of the way to Nira Trail conditions were generally good. Normal issues with crossings on Sisquoc which will get worse in spring, but easier to find in fall. All camps appeared to be in great condition and hardly used. Looks like people have been honoring the fire restrictions South Fork cabin and camps all in excellent condition. Log books indicate very few hikers, if any since late June. Trail tread indicated maybe one horse had been around the deck and no hikers recently. The bears have been doing an excellent job of patrolling the trails based on consistent tracks almost all of the way around. Only one hike log in besides us on the weekend that did Nira to White Ledge and White Ledge across the east deck to Lost Valley and out (hope that he had a lot of water). Beautiful fall colors along the Sisquoc!
Posted by: TrailJunky  on  2013-11-13