Dense, woodsy environs within the city limits of La-La Land? Believe it folks, this trail will pleasantly surprise you with lush vegetation dwarfed by oak and sycamore trees, a rushing creek (typically peaks from January – April), woodpeckers pecking, other birds and tiny lizards rustling in the bush, crows and the occasional raptor hovering above. Deer can often be spotted if you start early.
While most hiking trails in the local mountains are in open space on parched inclines covered with chaparral, Santa Ynez stands out as a shady haven on a hot day, or a cool untrampled refuge from the din of civilization.
The trail traverses the creek a number of times before you arrive at a juncture with a narrow rectangular wooden pole, offering the option of turning right to the waterfall, or left to continue by the creek and then ascend up a rocky trail with dramatic sandstone formations and canyon/ocean views to Trippet Ranch Fire Road. Shortly after veering left from the pole, you will encounter a cave perched atop a series of boulders to your left. A brief series of two doable hoists gets you inside for rest, meditation, or spying on passersby below.
Lately the waterfall trail has been overgrown from lack of maintenance, so if you want to rough it a bit, be my guest. Keep in mind that the flow is diminished to a trickle most of the year; best to do between January and April.
The trail is essentially flat for the first 35 minutes or so, until a set of stairs takes you into sandstone boulder terrain where the workout really begins. Round trip time is about two hours.