Posted by: James Wapotich | December 3, 2010

Trail Quest: Nineteen Oaks

Nineteen Oaks is great hike for beginners as the trail is easy to follow and only has a little climb toward the end and for the more adventuresome the trail continues on to Little Pine Mountain and points beyond. In fact one of the nice things about this trail is that because the Santa Cruz trail is one of the main entry points into the Santa Barbara backcountry, hiking it can give one a sense of feeling connected to all those distant places. The hike to Nineteen Oaks and back is roughly 3.5 miles.

Los Padres National Forest Nineteen Oaks Santa Barbara Backcountry Santa Cruz Trail Little Pine Mountain Hike

View Towards Little Pine From Nineteen Oaks

The trailhead is about 30 minutes from Santa Barbara. To get there take Highway 154 to Paradise Rd. and continue to the kiosk at the first crossing. You will need an adventure pass, which you can buy at the kiosk. Continue on Paradise Rd. as it crosses the Santa Ynez River and then almost immediately turn left and head towards Upper Oso campground. And then park just past Upper Oso at the locked gate where the paved road ends.

For the first .75 miles the trail follows the Buckhorn Camuesa Rd., which is often busy with motorcycle traffic as the road is one of the few places in the Los Padres that allows OHVs (off highway vehicles). There is also a trail that follows the creek along this same section, but it is overgrown in places as most people just hike the road.

At the .75 mile mark, the trail leaves the road and officially becomes the Santa Cruz trail. From here the trail becomes quieter as it continues to follow Oso Creek and threads its way through a variety of chaparral plants. The most noticeable of which is manzanita with its distinctive red bark.

The trail crosses the creek twice and then arrives at the turnoff for Nineteen Oaks, which is marked with a sign. From here it’s a quarter mile uphill to Nineteen Oaks. You’ll know if you missed the turnoff, as the trail will cross the creek one last time and start climbing out of the valley towards Little Pine Mountain.

Los Padres National Forest Santa Barbara Backcountry Nineteen Oaks Hike Santa Cruz Trail Little Pine Mountain

Horse Trough at Nineteen Oaks

Nineteen Oaks is situated on small rise that overlooks the Oso Valley and offers some great views of the surrounding area. There are two trail camps tucked under the trees and horse trough nearby that sometimes has water in it. Both campsites have picnic tables and a place for a campfire. Nineteen Oaks makes for a great picnic stop or even a straightforward camping destination.

This article originally appeared in the December 3rd, 2010 edition of Santa Barbara News-Press

Los Padres National Forest Santa Barbara Backcountry Hike Nineteen Oaks Santa Cruz Trail Little Pine Mountain

Addenda: I hiked this trail several times leading up to the article [Oct. 3, Oct. 23 and Oct. 31]. On one trip I ran into a group of Boy Scouts from Troop 50 who were camping overnight at Nineteen Oaks. And on another I ran into a backpacker who was finishing up a 4-day trek through the Los Padres. He had followed a portion of the proposed Condor Trail from La Brea Canyon, through the upper Sisquoc River to Alamar Camp and then down the Buckhorn Rd. to Little Pine and was hiking out to Upper Oso.

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