Posted by: James Wapotich | December 8, 2012

Trail Quest: Ennisbrook Trail

There are a surprising number of trails between the foothills of the Santa Ynez Mountains and the Pacific Ocean, that are hidden away in Montecito and Summerland. Each of these short trails can make for their own adventure and many of them are interconnected such that they can be combined into a variety of loop hikes.

Many of the trails are a mix of open space, and easements through residential neighborhoods and ranch land. The trails are generally in good condition, well marked and maintained with the ongoing support of Montecito Trails Foundation.

Established in 1964, Montecito Trails Foundation has done an incredible job of working with local agencies and non-profit groups to secure easements and help maintain the trails in Montecito, Summerland and Carpinteria. Montecito Trails Foundation is a volunteer organization that is funded through member dues and donations. Basic membership also includes a map of the trails that is produced by Montecito Trails Foundation. The map covers from Rattlesnake Canyon Trail in Santa Barbara to Franklin Trail in Carpinteria.

One of these trails is Ennisbrook Trail, which follows the lower stretches of San Ysidro Creek. The hike is about 1.5 miles, mostly level and one of the easier hikes in the area. The trail leads through oak woodland and is part of the 44-acre Ennisbrook Preserve.

To get to the trailhead from Santa Barbara, take Highway 101 south and exit at Sheffield Drive. Continue under the freeway and turn right onto Jameson Lane, and then continue towards the left onto Sheffield Drive; and then left again onto San Leandro Lane. The Ennisbrook trailhead is on the right hand side along San Leandro Lane, just past Crane Country Day School. At the trailhead there is a white picket fence in front of small green Montecito Water District Building. Parking is found along the road.

To begin the hike, pass through the gate, and continue in a northerly direction towards the mountains. The trail soon crosses San Ysidro Creek by way of a stone bridge. Here the trail branches with the trail to the right continuing over to Coffin Family Trail, about a half mile to the east. The connector trail parallels San Leandro Lane.

From this first intersection, stay to the left. Ennisbrook trail essentially follows San Ysidro Creek upstream, briefly follows Ennisbrook Drive, and then continues along the creek.

At about the half mark the trail branches, forming a loop. The trail to the left follows a residential road, confusingly called East Valley Road, before then turning east and returning back to the intersection. From here the hike doubles back to the trailhead.

Another nearby hike is Coffin Family Loop. This trail follows the lower portion of Romero Creek and returns along the side of Ortega Ridge and is about 1.5 miles. From Coffin Family Trail one can also construct a larger loop hike that connects with Reservoir Trail and returns through Summerland for a hike of about 5 miles.

The trailhead for both hikes is at the intersection of Sheffield Drive and Ortega Ridge Road. To get to the trailhead, use the same directions as before, but instead turn right onto Ortega Ridge Road and park in the small pullout area.

From the trailhead, Coffin Family Trail follows Romero Creek upstream along a narrow easement. Please respect private property at all times. A short way in, the trail passes the connector trail from Ennisbrook on the left. Coffin Family trail continues to the right, along the creek and is mostly level. The trail then passes near some horse corrals, at the end of which the trail opens up and climbs a small hillside towards Ortega Ridge.

At about the .75-mile mark the trail branches, the trail to the left rounds a corner and arrives at a picnic table and then continues north. Sometimes described as Valley Club Trail, this trail can be used to construct a larger loop hike by connecting it with Reservoir Trail. The trail to the right, returns back to the trailhead.

The picnic table can also make for a good rest stop for either hike as it provides some excellent views out across Montecito, framed in the background by the Santa Ynez Mountains.

For the shorter loop hike stay to the right. From here the trail parallels Ortega Ridge moving in a generally southern direction. The trail then arrives at Ortega Ridge Road, follows the road briefly and then resumes as a trail on the righthand side on the road. The trail then parallels the road returning to the trailhead.

For the larger loop hike, from that same intersection, stay to the left and continue past the picnic table. The trail continues north another half mile along the side of Ortega Ridge and then branches, with the trail to the right leading up to a different section of Ortega Ridge Road.

From this intersection, stay to the left, and follow the trail as it drops back down towards Picay Creek, which is a small tributary of Romero Creek. At the creek the trail branches again, stay to the right here, following Picay Creek upstream.

At about the 1.5-mile mark from the trailhead, the trail arrives at the intersection of State Route 192 and Ortega Ridge Road. From here the trail crosses Ortega Ridge Road and becomes Reservoir Trail. Reservoir Trail is level for a short way and then climbs up the backside of a steep hill, again offering some great views of the Santa Ynez Mountains.

At the top of the hill the trail joins a private road, stay to the right. The trail quickly arrives at an intersection, from here continue to the left along the paved road a short way and look for the trail to start up again on your right.

From the paved road one can see Ortega Reservoir, now covered, which gives the trail its name. The trail then leaves the road and drops down into a small canyon. It’s here through the canyon that Reservoir Trail feels the most remote and one can often see deer tracks along this section of the trail.

At the 2.25-mile mark the trail arrives at Asegra Drive, which is also the trailhead for this end of Reservoir Trail. It’s also here, at the intersection of Asegra Drive and Greenwell Avenue that one can find the 2-acre Summerland Greenwell Preserve.

The Summerland Greenwell Preserve is the site of a former Santa Barbara County work yard that has been converted into a preserve. In the early 1990s a group of local organizations successfully petitioned the county to close the yard and in 2004 the group began native plant restoration at the site.

From the preserve, continue south along Asegra Drive, towards the ocean and look for the trail on your left. This trail leads west, and quickly climbs the backside of Summerland Hill, joining a private drive and arriving at Whitney Avenue in Summerland, near Olive Street.

From here continue west along Whitney Avenue, just past the intersection with Colville Street, and look for the trail to resume on your right. Here the trail continues west as it climbs and rounds Summerland Hill; and at the 3.5-mile mark arrives at Ortega Ridge Road.

At Ortega Ridge Road, the trail turns left and parallels the road for about a quarter mile, before joining the road. Continue along the road passing where Coffin Family Trail joins Ortega Ridge Road on the right, and then shortly after that catch Coffin Family Trail as it returns to trailhead.

This article originally appeared in section A of the December 8th, 2012 edition of the Santa Barbara News-Press.

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