Posted by: James Wapotich | June 8, 2017

Trail Quest: Santa Cruz Trail

Hiked Santa Cruz Trail over Little Pine Mountain as part of a 4-day backpack trip with my friend Jasper to explore the upper Santa Cruz Creek drainage. Much of the trail, from Upper Oso over Alexander Saddle and down to the turnoff to Little Pine Spring, was damaged in last year’s Rey Fire and subsequent winter rains.

The first section from Upper Oso to Nineteen Oaks is in fair shape and is enjoying its own mini version of a super bloom. The shale slide sections, further up, are now larger and require more care, but are still somewhat passable. The upper meadow does not appear to have been burned, but is now clogged with wild grasses and mustard. The worst section of trail however is from Alexander Saddle down to the turnoff to Little Pine Spring. Winter rains have washed loose dirt down across large sections of the trail. The route can be challenging and is not really recommended until it can be cleared and repaired. 

mariposa lily super bloom nineteen oaks rey fire santa barbara los pardes national forest santa cruz trail hike

Mariposa lilies cover a hillside near Nineteen Oaks

Little Pine Spring is fine, being located outside the burn area, and the spring itself has a steady trickle. The rest of Santa Cruz Trail is past the burn area, however wild grasses and mustard are experiencing their own super bloom–gaiters are highly recommended.

Article appears in section A of the May 22nd, 2017 edition of Santa Barbara News-Press. The next article will focus on the homesteads and old cabin sites in the upper Santa Cruz Creek drainage, specifically the Alexander Cabin, and Romo and Flores homesteads.

Older articles can be seen by scrolling down or using the search feature in the upper right corner. Articles from the News-Press appear here a couple months after they appear in the paper.

Upper Lower Oso vetch connector trail hike los padres national forest

Purple vetch in bloom along the connector trail between Lower Oso and Upper Oso

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