Posted by: James Wapotich | May 13, 2011

Trail Quest: Davy Brown

There are number of trails to be found between Figueroa Mountain and Davy Brown Campground in the Los Padres National Forest. And as such one can create several different trips through the area and see a wide variety of plants and terrain. One such trip starting from Davy Brown Campground is to hike along the Davy Brown Trail, returning through Munch Canyon and then hiking back along Sunset Valley Road to Davy Brown Campground. This particular loop is 5.5 miles.

Los Padres National Forest Fir Canyon Davy Brown

View of Fir Canyon

To get to Davy Brown Campground, from Santa Barbara take State Route 154 past Cachuma Lake to Armour Ranch Road, just before State Route 246. From Armour Ranch Road turn right on Happy Canyon Road as it climbs out of the valley towards Cachuma Saddle. At Cachuma Saddle it meets Figueroa Mountain Road, and continues north, becoming Sunset Valley Road.

Davy Brown Campground is about an hour and half from Santa Barbara. You’ll know you’ve gone too far as the road dead ends two miles later at Nira Campground. Both campgrounds make for great car camping destinations. An adventure pass is required to park or camp within the Los Padres National Forest.

Los Padres National Forest Davy Brown

Davy Brown Creek

From within Davy Brown Campground, follow the road to the right, heading downstream. Here the trail begins and immediately crosses the creek and continues through an open gate as it makes its way up Davy Brown Canyon. The first mile of the trail is also a great beginner’s hike as it’s not too steep and moves through some rich scenery. Along the way one can find a number of swim holes and places to rest.

At about the three quarter mile mark the trail branches, with the trail to the right climbing off towards Willow Spring while the Davy Brown Trail, crosses the creek and continues up Fir Canyon. For whatever reason only the trail to Willow Spring is marked with a trail sign, but rest assured that the trail to the left is the Davy Brown Trail.

Los Padres National Forest Davy Brown Stellar's Jay

Stellar’s Jay

The hike to Willow Spring does make for an interesting alternate route as it ultimately connects back up with the Davy Brown Trail higher up. That is it’s about three quarters of a mile to Willow Spring and then another mile back over to the Davy Brown Trail via the Willow Spring connector trail. The trail however is fairly overgrown in places.

Both trails become steeper from this point on. From this juncture the Davy Brown Trail continues up Fir Canyon and leads through some exceptional scenery comprised of riparian plants and pine trees with even some Blue or Mountain Oaks mixed in. Along the way you’ll be treated views of the valley as well as Hurricane Deck in the distance.

Los Padres National Forest

View of Munch Canyon

At the 2-mile mark one arrives at a 4-way trail intersection. From here take the trail to the left; also know as the Munch Canyon Spur Trail. The Davy Brown Trail continues upstream towards Figueroa Mountain Road. It is also here that the connector trail from Willow Spring joins the Davy Brown Trail.

The Munch Canyon Spur Trail climbs out of the canyon, threading its way through pine trees and then transitioning into chaparral. About a half-mile later, the trail branches again with the trail to the right continuing up to East Pinery Road, continue straight as the trail descends towards Munch Canyon.

About a mile later the Munch Canyon Spur Trail joins the Munch Canyon Trail. From here continue down Munch Canyon, which has water this time of year.

At the 4.75-mile mark the trail reaches the valley floor and arrives at Sunset Valley Road, from here it’s three quarters of a mile back to Davy Brown Campground.

Los Padres National Forest Davy Brown

Pool along Davy Brown Creek

Regardless of how far you hike you’ll get to see some of the incredible scenery of our local backcountry.

This article originally appeared in section A of the May 13th, 2011 edition of the Santa Barbara News-Press.

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