(6.4 miles-if the run is completed)
Knapp's Castle is a little bit of Santa Barbara County history. Built in 1916 by George Owen Knapp, legend has it was the site of many extravagant parties. When I was growing up, rumor said the mansion belonged to Charlie Chaplin, but I have since learned that he was a guest at some of the parties, not the owner. As you can see in this picture, it was an impressive place. Unfortunately, just after the property changed hands in 1940, it burned to the ground, and the ruins are what you see in these pictures and this picture, a great aerial shot. While Knapp's Castle is well-known to Santa Barbara locals (particularly the high schoolers), it's not something many tourists see, as it's a few miles outside of town off of East Camino
Cielo Road. I had been here many times but I had never done the trail from the bottom of the valley up. As we had biked and hiked already, Jen and I needed to do some trail running. Tough little trail with a great destination at the top? Sign us up.
We started off at the Snyder trail head, near the Los Prietos Ranger Station, on Paradise Road. (Just to warn you- parking passes are supposedly required but we couldn't find anyone around to sell us a pass at the ranger station.) The trail climbs out of stands of oak trees fairly typical for the Santa Ynez Valley to dry scrub with little shelter. And it climbs. And climbs.
The good (or not so good) thing about this trail: you can see where you are going from start to finish.Just to the right of Jen and Neko, the top of the valley (where we were climbing) is faintly visible.
And yet, the silver lining for such steep trails? In back of us, the views kept getting better and better as we climbed. The Santa Ynez Valley is one of my favorite places. I am definitely a Santa Barbara "town local" (straight out of suburbia, I am), but the Santa Ynez Valley is a little bit of wildness in the backyard. It's hotter here than on the coast and trails are pretty brutal-- either straight up or straight down. Many more people know the trails on the other side of the mountains or the valley's wineries--but few come to the Santa Ynez Valley for the trails.
As we stopped to take this picture however, I looked at the dog. She was covered with ticks. Absolutely covered with them. I had forgotten the recent rains just before Thanksgiving would increase the tick appearance. Even with Frontline, an aussie's fur attracts them like a magnet. As far as I was concerned, it was not worth it to run for another few miles and pick twice the number of ticks off the dog so they didn't get in the car. Or on us. Eew. Ticks gross me out.
So we turned back and ran down to the car, but then took the road up to East Camino Cielo so we could at least see the ruins and take a bunch of pictures before heading back to Santa Barbara on Painted Cave Road (the site of yet another Santa Barbara fire's start).
I would definitely come back and do this trail again--just not after a rainstorm or perhaps not with the dog.
Plus, then I could stop by Cold Springs Tavern for a cold one and perhaps some live music on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon...just to experience some more Santa Barbara history, of course...