Sierra Club New Secret Bench Hike

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Sierra Club New Secret Bench Hike
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By Robert Bernstein

For many years I have led hikes to the hidden benches along the Buena Vista Trail in Montecito. But a hiking friend showed me a new even more secret hidden bench along a completely different section of the Buena Vista Trail. It was a treat to share this as a recent Sierra Club hike! Here are all my photos.

The Buena Vista Trail is the only trail I have ever heard of that has three trailheads! One is at the Romero Fire Road. The other is along Park Lane. And the third is at the summit near the Secret Bench. Here is the view up the canyon where we started along Park Lane.

Here is the group starting up from there with my wife Merlie right behind me.

The lower section near the houses has steps as you can see. There is also a beautiful little grotto with a tiny waterfall in that area.

We spotted these tiny wild blackberries.

And lots of canyon sunflowers in bloom.

The upper section of the Buena Vista Trail gets very steep and slippery. Not a problem going up, but going down I recommend having a hiking stick or pole. Here we paused for a group photo. The first person behind me is Kelli who is an amazing dancer who some may recognize.

Across the canyon you can see the other section of the Buena Vista Trail snaking its way with many switchbacks up to the other hidden benches, headed to the Romero Fire Road.At the summit of our section of the Buena Vista Trail the landmark is a set of power towers. I measured the elevation to this point as 600 feet above the Park Lane trailhead.At this point begins the adventure! We turned 180 degrees back toward the ocean. There is a series of three hills to ascend in sequence to get to the secret spot! Someone has made a primitive trail, but it feels more like bushwhacking as you can see!

At the top of the first hill we could look toward Santa Barbara and the harbor and we could see a big cruise ship offshore.

After a bunch more bushwhacking we came to the promised Secret Bench and stopped to rest and have snacks. I measured this to be another 100 feet or so above the power tower area.

We also took in the spectacular panoramic view all up and down the coast.

And posed for a photo with that backdrop.

We took a different way back, descending on the Edison Catway fire road headed toward the San Ysidro trail. This one also was steep and slippery and poles or sticks were handy.

Aanjelae found this wonderful bird's nest on the ground. Her friend Pete told us later he thinks it is a bushtit nest that hangs vertically.

We headed down the San Ysidro trail a bit and then branched off on the left to the Old Pueblo Trail. It passed along the edge of a huge estate that we peeked into through the fence.

My unicycling friend Danielle stopped to pose in a tree along that trail. Danielle helped me scout this hike a couple of months ago. She, Aanjelae and Kelli were very helpful finding our way back through the brush from the Secret Bench!

My favorite spot on the Old Pueblo Trail is this cool cave with a plaque from 60 years ago honoring Peter Bakewell.

You can see the schedule of all of our local Sierra Club Santa Barbara Group hikes through Meetup here. Everyone is welcome! If you are a member of Meetup you can receive free notifications of future hikes! My next hike will be to the Gaviota Caves on May 24!

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Shasta Guy May 01, 2022 11:10 AM
Sierra Club New Secret Bench Hike

Outstanding Robert! Thanking for sharing. We are little blue in our house as we need to say good bye to a beloved pet this weekend. Your pictures always cheer me up, especially today.

sbrobert May 02, 2022 12:38 PM
Sierra Club New Secret Bench Hike

SHASTA GUY Thank you for your kind words. You have my sympathy for your pet loss.

Treefrogs are our household pets and I highly recommend them. They are White's Treefrogs from Sensational Pets. Native to Australia but bred here in the US. They live about a dozen years and have minimal environmental impact.

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