This little known 6-miles-plus trail is remarkable for its beauty and solitude. Open on the weekends and Monday, currently only human foot traffic is allowed.
After traversing an orchard for about a mile, the trail parallels a riparian coastal canyon (Arroyo Quemado) and then enters native coastal chaparral with breathtaking views. The latter part of the trail is in Los Padres National Forest, and while somewhat steep, it consists of an easy-to-hike-on dirt road. At the top of the trail and in other segments there are dense, shaded lush areas, some with ferns. An additional trail spur is currently being constructed.
Watch for wildlife and indicators of wildlife -- scat, claw marks on trees, and tracks -- all along the trail. Birds and butterflies are abundant, and the wildflowers in spring are beautiful.
14550 Calle Real, Gaviota
Santa Barbara County (Public Works Department)
17 mi (bike)
Birdwatching, Hiking, Picnicking (no tables), Relaxing, Running (trail), Studying/Reading, Viewing (ocean, mountains), Walking, Watchable Wildlife
The beginning of the trail runs through a working ranch with avocado and cherimoya orchards. The County is restoring part of the ranch lands, including activities to protect the California red-legged frog.
It is somewhat challenging to find the parking area for this trail. Going north on the 101, and after passing the Refugio State Beach turnoff, look for the next turnoff on the right. Take the frontage road to the end (the Barron Ranch Gate) and park along the frontage road. There is a good article on the trail.
The County of Santa Barbara has initiated a Baron Ranch Master Plan, which, among other things, is identifying and evaluating options for developing increased public recreational opportunities. The public has the opportunity to participate in this important planning process.