Montecito Loop Sierra Club Exploratory Hike
By Robert Bernstein
My latest Sierra Club had an energetic and adventuresome group to explore five different Montecito trails in the disaster area!
Here are all my photos in several galleries!
We started up the San Ysidro Fire Road as we had done a few weeks earlier on the San Ysidro Falls hike. But then we branched over to the McMenemy Trail.
In just these past few weeks, the Montecito Trails Foundation had rebuilt a creek crossing to the Lower McMenemy Trail that was even better than the original crossing!
The Lower McMenemy Trail was charred by the fire, but new growth is starting to return
The Upper McMenemy Trail was always a challenge due to erosion, but it was in fairly good condition thanks to restoration by Montecito Trails Foundation. They have even replaced many of the signs already as you can see here:
We continued on the Upper McMenemy Trail to the Saddlerock Trail. Here is the famous Saddle Rock:
Many even climbed onto the Saddle Rock!
We continued up to the "UFO Landing Zone".
Then back to the Edison Catway. The Edison Catway had been thoroughly re-graded into a smooth road. You can see how barren the landscape is all around it:
We headed back on the Girard Trail which is famed for its views. And for its ferns and moss which are unusual in our desert climate. I felt good that some of that vegetation was returning!
We stopped at the benches on the Girard Trail and posed for some spectacular shots in that area:
On our final descent we got a great view of a turkey vulture
Overall, thanks to the Montecito Trails Foundation, the trails were as good or better than before. But much of the landscape is quite alien if you are familiar with that area. Between the fire and the mud flow it is quite barren. But it is also clear it is starting to come back.
A year earlier I led a similar loop, except that we started at the Hot Springs trailhead. An easier hike!
Here are my photos from that hike. You can compare how lush some of those scenes were. You can see the tree the girls were climbing in. It is still there now, but it stands alone in a barren landscape.
Here you can support the Montecito Trails Foundation in their efforts to restore the Montecito trails.
And here you can see all of the Sierra Club hike listings.