Posted by: James Wapotich | July 23, 2011

Trail Quest: Buena Vista Trail

If you’re looking for what feels like an undiscovered trail behind Montecito then the Buena Vista Trail may be the answer. Located near the San Ysidro Trail, the Buena Vista Trail leads through the less visited Buena Vista Canyon. And with the network of trails behind Montecito one can make a short loop hike of about 3.5 miles along the trail.

Directions to the trailhead are similar to those for the San Ysidro Trail, that is make your way towards the intersection of San Ysidro Road and East Valley Road in Montecito, and continue east on East Valley Road until you reach Park Lane on your left. Continue north along Park Lane until the road forks at which point Park Lane veer towards the right, here you’ll want to turn left onto East Mountain Drive. This small section of Mountain Drive is not attached to the rest of Mountain Drive and can only be reached from Park Lane. The trailhead is almost immediately on your right along East Mountain Drive and is easy to miss whereas the trailhead for the San Ysidro Trail is further down and more obvious. Parking is found along the street.

Santa Ynez Mountains Montecito Santa Barbra hike Los Padres National Forest Buena Vista Trail

View from the Buena Vista Trail towards the Santa Ynez Mountains

This hike starts off along the Wiman Trail which leads up a small canyon and then a quarter mile later arrives at an unsigned trail juncture. From here continue to the right or east along the Old Pueblo Trail. The trail is shaded much of the way and can feel like a tour of hidden Montecito as it makes its way towards Buena Vista Canyon. The trail leads behind a number of residential homes and is fairly well marked, please respect private property. The trail then briefly follows part of a long driveway and then joins Park Lane. Continue left on Park Lane a short way to the marked trailhead for the Buena Vista Trail.

The Buena Vista Trail is well maintained, easy to follow and makes its way up Buena Vista Canyon and if you’ve hiked the nearby trails before it can feel like an undiscovered valley. There is still a trickle of water in the creek, which is dotted with sycamores. The trail itself leads through mostly chaparral and this time of year one of the more noticeable plants is Laurel Sumac with its clusters of small yellow flowers.

Los Padres National Forest Santa Barbara Santa Ynez Mountains Montecito Hike Buena Vista Trail

Wind Sculpted Sandstone

At about the one mile mark the Buena Vista Trail branches, with each trail leading over to one of the neighboring canyons. The trail to the right leads up to the saddle and connects with the Edison catway and then over to Romero Canyon. And the trail to the left leads up to the other saddle and also connects with an Edison catway which then leads back down to San Ysidro Canyon. Continue left towards San Ysidro Canyon. The trail climbs out of the valley and then enjoys its first downhill along the Edison catway as it heads toward the San Ysidro Trail.

At the 2-mile mark the Buena Vista Trail connects up with the San Ysidro Trail. From here continue downstream along the trail. If you’re wanting to add some additional miles to the hike, a trip to San Ysidro Falls upstream is about 2 more miles roundtrip.

The San Ysidro Trail follows a dirt road downstream for about a half mile before it arrives at a paved road. It’s here that the Old Pueblo Trail starts on the left. The trail is marked and as before leads behind residential homes as it makes its way east back to the Wiman Trail and makes for a nice wrap up to the hike.

Los Padres National Forest Santa Barbara Montecito Hike Santa Ynez Mountains Buena Vista Trail Laurel Sumac

Laurel Sumac

Regardless of how far you hike you’ll get to see what feels like a hidden part of the frontcountry behind Montecito.

This article originally appeared in section A of the Saturday, July 23rd, 2011 edition of the Santa Barbara News-Press.


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