Posted by: James Wapotich | May 10, 2018

Trail Quest: La Jolla Trail to Manzana Creek, Part 1

Several years ago I hiked La Jolla Trail and couldn’t find the overgrown middle section. The trail connects from Figueroa Mountain Road, down through Birabent Canyon, and up to Zaca Ridge Road. The trail was damaged in the 1993 Marre Fire and now most people just hike the first section in Birabent Canyon.

In my search, I’d hiked the trail from both the top and bottom, that is from Figueroa Mountain Road and up through Birabent Canyon to where it starts to fade and from Zaca Ridge Road down through the large meadow, but came up empty both times.

I had heard subsequent to my article on looking for the trail that someone had brushed the first set of switchbacks coming up out of Birabent Canyon. When I returned for another crack at the middle section, that little bit of trail work was enough to point me in the right direction and connect up to the upper meadow. (A summary of the route can be found at the bottom of this blog post, Trail Quest: Ballard Camp.)

La Jolla Trail Birabent Canyon hike backpacking blaze mark Zaca Ridge Los Padres National Forest

A blaze marks where the trail turns up a side canyon

While I was out there route-finding, pushing through brush, and crawling under ceanothus, I thought it’d be fun to come back some day and do a backpacking trip from Figueroa Mountain Road to Manzana Creek, connecting La Jolla Trail, Zaca Spring Trail, Cedros Saddle Trail, and Sulphur Springs Trail as a way to see the area.

Naturally I thought of Curt Cragg, who 7 years ago did a series of maintenance projects on the various trails around Zaca Lake, even installing trail signs at the different junctures, some of which are still standing. Curt was also interested in hiking the middle section of La Jolla Trail.

As an added a bonus, I had been reading through Ranger Edgar Davison’s journal and felt I had located what he referred to as “Cascade Canyon”, which he described as “a miniature Colorado, being the narrow and precipitous outlet of two large canyons through the south wall of the Manzana.”

La Jolla Springs Trail Birabent Canyon Zaca Ridge hike backpacking Los Padres National Forest

Curt hiking along the middle section of La Jolla Trail

Part 1, covers from Figueroa Mountain Road to Cedros Saddle, and appears in section A of the April 30th, 2018 edition of Santa Barbara News-Press.

Part 2, covers from Cedros Saddle to the lower Manzana trailhead and visits some of the places referenced in Davison’s journal, including “Cascade Canyon”.

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.

Ballard Camp La Jolla Springs Trail Birabent Canyon hike backpacking Los Padres National Forest

The meadow in Birabent Canyon near where the original Ballard Camp was located. Here, the trail turns up a side canyon on its way to Zaca Ridge.

Birabent Canyon La Jolla Springs Trail Alamo Pintado Creek Los Padres National Forest

The creek flowing through Birabent Canyon

La Jolla Springs Trail Zaca Ridge hike backpacking Los Padres National Forest

The upper meadow along La Jolla Trail


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