Romero Canyon Sierra Club Hike

Romero Canyon Sierra Club Hike title=
Romero Canyon Sierra Club Hike
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By Robert Bernstein

We had a happy group of ten hikers for my Romero Canyon Sierra Club loop hike on Sunday July 14.

Here are all my photos!

This was the first time I led this hike since June 2016, three years ago. I was concerned how things would be since the fire and mud flow, but things were in surprisingly good condition overall. It was clear that a lot of work was done by Montecito Trails Foundation and other volunteers to make it all passable.

Some areas were mostly unchanged. But other areas were dramatically changed. The lowest part of the canyon was much wider than before. And the first bridge on the fire road was completely wiped out. I was pleasantly surprised, though, that all the other bridges on the fire road had survived!

Some areas on the Romero Trail that used to be woodsy are now opened up to the sky. Other areas are still woodsy. Notable: Quite a few beautiful Humboldt Lilies along the way. Thanks to Dale and Aanjelae for pointing out and identifying the local plants and flowers.

There was a surprising amount of water in the creek and there were several crossings of that creek

Here was one of the first Humboldt Lily blooms we encountered

Nearby, we encountered a magnificent alligator lizard who stayed still long enough for a few photos

Here was a lush, woodsy area that looked like the pre-fire days, complete with ferns

Other areas were more like this, opened up to the sky after the torrential water and mud flow opened up the creek (see top header photo).

Here, Qin led the way behind me through a woodsy area

A tiny blue jay feather lay on the trail nearby

We ascended about 1400 feet on the Romero Trail and got to the first crossing of the Romero fire road. This hike usually descends awhile on the fire road before stopping for lunch. But with the hot sun and little shade on the fire road we decided to have an early lunch at 11AM at that first junction where it is shady.

The descent on the fire road was quite scenic and there was a variety of wildflowers. But it was a bit toasty. Here we encountered some beautiful native thistles:

And this yucca bloom

You can see the blanket of coastal fog below that stayed all day near the beach.

Here we posed on one of the many bridges that thankfully survived the Montecito disasters

This whiptail lizard is a rare sight and I was lucky to catch a shot as it scurried away

Here are my photos from when I led this hike three years ago for comparison.

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sbrobert Jul 25, 2019 12:06 PM
Romero Canyon Sierra Club Hike

Thank you for the kind words and thank you for the feather identification. Yes, as FLICKA noted it is good to support Montecito Trails Foundation in their trail work by becoming a member. Here is the direct address to join or donate: https://www.montecitotrailsfoundation.info/support

Flicka Jul 21, 2019 08:58 AM
Romero Canyon Sierra Club Hike

Thanks, Robert, for showing us your current photos and comparison ones from before the fire. And, thank you to the Montecito Trails Foundation for their work repairing local trails. Easy to support the MTF by becoming a member, a trail map comes with membership. They are listed in the phone book.

tagdes Jul 21, 2019 07:44 AM
Romero Canyon Sierra Club Hike

The closest of a Blue Jay ever being recorded here was in the mountains above Yucaipa back in Nov. of 1963, nothing anywhere near since then. Steller's, previously only montane are now being seen daily at La Cumbre Peak and as low as Rocky Nook and the Botanic Garden.

EastBeach Jul 21, 2019 08:50 PM
Romero Canyon Sierra Club Hike

That's very interesting re: Stellars. Looking forward to spotting one locally. We hiked up to Arlington and Cathedral Peaks today and were treated to the songs of Canyon Wrens on the Mission Creek side. Boy it is getting hot back there! It got into the 90's and we guzzled our 3.5L of water halfway down the dragon's back. It was so hot and overgrown we decided not to visit Horse Thief cave. One hiker reported a large rattler who would not vacate its spot on the trail between Cathedral and La Cumbre. It's that time of year.

a-1575992876 Jul 20, 2019 09:52 PM
Romero Canyon Sierra Club Hike

Do we have "Blue" jays on the trails here? I surmise that it is the feather from a Scrub jay. Plus: cool lizard pic. Love lizards.

EastBeach Jul 21, 2019 07:20 AM
Romero Canyon Sierra Club Hike

I've seen only scrub jays around here (they have round heads without a crest). If the jay has a crest out west, it could be a Stellar's Jay (they like trees such as pines). But climate change is changing the range of many species. Last winter we hiked that upper section of Romero that goes north after the trail intersects with the fireroad. It was amazing to see what the fire did. Most of the trail was washed out with shale but we made it to ECC.

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