Posted by: James Wapotich | January 7, 2011

Trail Quest: Jesusita Trail

One of the nice things about the Jesusita Trail is that you can make the hike as long or as short as you want and still get to see and experience the natural beauty that surrounds us. In this regard the trail can be for all ages and experience levels. To hike the length of the trail from Stevens Park to Inspiration Point is roughly 8.5 miles roundtrip.

There are two ways to access the Jesusita Trail, either by beginning at Stevens Park, near San Roque Road, or from the trailhead at the top of San Roque Road, across from Lauro Canyon Dam. The two trails meet up about a mile from Stevens Park.

Los Padres National Forest Santa Barbara day hike Santa Ynez Mountains Stevens Park Jesusita Trail Chumash

Mortar Stone used by the Chumash to Prepare Acorns

From Stevens Park the trail follows San Roque Creek and threads its way through oak and chaparral. In fact there are so many oak trees in this section of the trail that it’s not surprising that one finds a mortar stone that the Chumash used to prepare acorns right alongside the trail. This first mile is also fairly level and therefore well suited for almost all ages.

Further up this trail is where the 2009 Jesusita Fire broke out and although the damage from the fire is still evident, the entire trail is now green with re-growth. Along the way you’ll encounter several little side trails, but the main trail generally follows the creek and heads upstream. In all, the trail crosses San Roque Creek a half a dozen times.

Los Padres National Forest Santa Barbara Day Hike Jesusita Trail San Roque Creek Santa Ynez Mountains

San Roque Creek

At about the 2-mile mark the trail branches, with the Arroyo Burro Trail heading off to the left and the Jesusita Trail continuing towards the right. Roughly a half a mile later the trail briefly joins a private road. Please be courteous and respect private property. It’s at this point that one finds not only a shaded picnic table, but a drinking fountain as well!

Los Padres National Forest Santa Barbara Day Hike Santa Ynez Mountains Jesusita Trail

From here the trail moves away from San Roque Creek and begins its climb towards Inspiration Point. For me this is one of the nicer sections of the trail, feeling more rustic as far fewer people hike it, and with views that keep getting better. It also makes for a good workout.

At the “top” of the climb the trail joins a dirt road for the last half-mile at which point it intersects with the trail coming up from Tunnel Road and one arrives at Inspiration Point. It is here that one is rewarded for their efforts with some great views of Lauro Canyon Reservoir, downtown Santa Barbara and the Santa Barbara Channel Islands.

Los Padres National Forest Santa Barbara Day Hike Inspiration Point Jesusita Trail Santa Ynez Mountains

View from Inspiration Point

This article originally appear in Section A of the Friday, January 7th, 2011 edition of the Santa Barbara News-Press

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