Sierra Club Playground Hike

Sierra Club Playground Hike title=
Sierra Club Playground Hike
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By Robert Bernstein

Many Sierra Club hikes are being canceled now due to the surge in COVID cases. But here are photos of a hike I led back in November at The Playground. My favorite hike to lead!

We had 18 brave people who came out to hike on an exceptionally and unseasonably hot day. As usual, the group gathered on the first overlook before descending into the labyrinth below.I asked the group to wait for me for a bit as I scouted out the route to the hidden caves. This made for a nice group photo looking back toward the "balcony" where we entered high above.When I am scouting, I look for these beautiful rounded rocks and I know I am on the right track.As usual, I paused below those rocks to take photos of people "holding up" the Atlas Rock. This was a group of UCSB Mathematics graduate students working as a team!Here their professor led the way for them as we entered the concealed top of the cave complex.Of course we did another group photo in the largest cave chamber.It is a bit of a squeeze exiting the lower end of the cave complex, but everyone made it through with a smile! Including one of our newest hikers Selveda!The real squeeze happens passing through the famous gem of The Playground: The Narrows.
We usually have lunch at the bottom of the Narrows and make that the turn around point. But sometimes if we have an energetic group we venture out to the "Bird's Nest" at the lowest end of The Playground. Can you see why it is called the "Bird's Nest"?

This was one of those occasions. Despite the heat, most of this energetic group eagerly continued on! Here was the final climb onto the deck of the Bird's Nest.Here was the view on that deck.

It was a hot climb up steep exposed rock to make our way back up from the Narrows after the Bird's Nest excursion.

I love this view as we made our way from the "Mushroom Rock" past the "Cube Rock" after that long climb.

We cooled off in a cave before the final part of the exit from The Playground.

My wife Merlie was looking a bit tired as we neared the exit at the top of the Playground.

But everyone made it out OK and had a good time!

You can see the schedule of all of our local Sierra Club Santa Barbara Group hikes here. Everyone is welcome!

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Shasta Guy Jan 11, 2022 07:13 AM
Sierra Club Playground Hike

Excellent photos of such fun spots at the Playground! It’s one of my favorite places full of memories made with family and friends. Thanks for for reminding us that there’s more to living than staring at a flatscreen.

CreekMoe Jan 11, 2022 10:35 AM
Sierra Club Playground Hike

Nice article.
But suggest that a map of area be included.
Or give information on the location of the hike.
Not every reader is a hiker locally.

sbrobert Jan 11, 2022 03:26 PM
Sierra Club Playground Hike

This hike really requires a guide at least for the first time CREEKMOE. Thank you for asking and thank you for the kind words!

The Playground is an area below West Camino Cielo, about halfway to Lizard's Mouth from Highway 154. But there are no trails and it is almost impossible to find the cool bits without a guide. There are also hazardous drop offs that can be a problem without someone to show you the way.

That is why I love leading this hike for the Sierra Club. I try to lead it at least twice each year.

SHASTA GUY thank you also for the kind words. Glad this brings back happy memories. Yes, screens are tools. You don't want to live your whole life with a hammer in reach!

Shasta Guy Jan 11, 2022 05:58 PM
Sierra Club Playground Hike

I completely agree with you about being guided on your first visit there. Once in The Playground there isn’t a single fixed trail. It’s more of series of routes between features. A couple spots require confident bouldering abilities. There really is only one exit, so if you get disoriented at dusk and you’re by yourself you’ll wish you had the 10 essentials or SAR on speed dial.

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