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F


rom the Carpinteria Valley floor you can see the upper reaches of the Romero Trail, a jagged line of compacted sandstone gradually ascending westward on a steep mountain face toward the coast before zigzagging back to the north and the rugged Dick Smith Wilderness. Offering a quick breakaway from the coast, Romero Canyon is Carpinteria’s gateway into the front-country of the Santa Ynez Mountains and the backcountry of the Los Padres National Forest. It is the closet hiking trail to the sea- side community, a mere 10-minute drive to Montecito for adventure, nature and solitude.


The trail leaves the foothills as- cending beneath a dense canopy of California bay and sycamore trees and woody chaparral. One may choose to stay on the old Romero Road, which leads trail users to epic scenery of Santa Barbara County and the Channel Islands National Park, eventu- ally leveling off at the Romero Saddle. It is a moderate 5-mile hike to the saddle, but some of the best views in the county can be had along this rocky route. Whether it is sunrises, sunsets or a routine workout one is after, this trail delivers awe-inspiring scenery.


TOP, a mountain biker pedals past a creamy yucca bloom, otherwise known as Our Lord’s Candle, which stands tall at the top of Romero Canyon in June.


LEFT, two feet of snow blankets the upper reaches of Romero Canyon, a rare occurrence in the front country.


OPPOSITE PAGE TOP, beyond Romero Canyon the Santa Ynez Ridge is the rugged spine separating the front country and this view of the Santa Barbara backcountry.


90 CARPINTERIAMAGAZINE


OPPOSITE PAGE, BOTTOM, a woman runs above the fog engulfi ng the lower canyon.


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