Fremont Ridge Trail

This was an exciting day, challenging due to the wet and muddy conditions.  I hiked to East Camino Cielo, like I have done on past Santa Barbara area hikes, but this time I came up from the other side of the mountain.  This trail doesn’t seem to be very well known, maybe because of the overgrown section in the middle, but it’s a great trail with great views at the top.

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5       6   I planned to park at Fremont Campground but the gate was locked so I parked on the street.  The trail begins right off the road just beyond the campground.  There were muddy conditions right from the start.  I followed the trail that parallels the road for about half a mile.  I passed some houses and then made a sharp turn uphill.  There are no trail markers but you’ll know you’re on the right path when you pass these water tanks.

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There were beautiful mountain views as I climbed.

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11   After the first climb the trail became rather overgrown.  It can appear faint, often covered with leaves.  I asked myself several times if I had lost my way.  This section reminded me of the close-by and also overgrown Davy Brown Trail.  Look out for poison oak, it’s everywhere.

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This rough section of trail usually runs right next to the stream, which was mostly dry on this day.

16   I became confused at this point because it looked like a trail breaks to the right (not shown) but is congested with poison oak.  I headed uphill in hope I was on the right path.

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I came to a haunting meadow scene with white grass and moss covered trees.  From here I followed tire tracks away from the heavily forested area from which I had just come.

19   Moss Angel

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I passed through private property.  There is a yurt right beside the trail.  I was momentarily held up as part of a tree had fallen right across the road and there was no easy way to get around.  I pushed my way through on the left.

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I put my foot down and muddy goo squirted out of the ground and on to my boot.  You can also see I’m wearing my MicroSpikes, which made a world of difference.  Very little sliding around even in these slippery conditions.  I reached a power line and thought I must be right near the end of the trail.  In reality I was only about half way there.  As I came to a second power line the road made a sharp turn to the left and continued in that direction, up and down the ridgeline.

28   This hike has an excellent view of the Cold Spring Canyon Arch Bridge.

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32   The weather got worse – rainy with limited visibility.  I passed some sandstone formations to the left side of the trail.  I made my final ascent.  I could make out a row of trees above the trail and correctly assumed that they’re growing by the side of East Camino Cielo.

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I reached East Camino Cielo.  Having hiked to this road before I knew there was a great view of Santa Barbara below, but not on this day.  Totally socked in.

37     38     39   Heading back now, I explore some of the rocks off the trail.

40   As I passed this group of boulders I was sure that there must be some way to get out to the rocks on the right.

41     42   I found a footpath heading in that direction.  I tried to go low at first, between the boulders in photo 1.  I quickly came to a dead end.

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I found another footpath that lead to the left of this moss covered tree and up and over the first boulders to a flat area on top.

44   Witch’s Wood

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47   I kept moving in the direction of those isolated boulders, finding space here and there.  The last few feet were a total bushwack through thick manzanitas but I made it.

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Crack in the Sky

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52   Nice views from the top

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Cold Springs Canyon Arch Bridge on the left, Lake Cachuma on the right.

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Close-ups of the bridge and lake

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I believe the pointy looking peak right in the middle of photo 1 is Zaca Peak.  I was hiking directly across from it on my Davy Brown hike.

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I continued down the road headed to my car.  At the top power line where the road makes a sharp left (as I came up), there is another road that heads to the right.  I followed it hoping it would give me the closest (maybe best) view of the bridge.

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63       64   Photo 6 – Satanic Goat’s Head Staff

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Photo 1 – Just about all the way back down now, I look back up and see the power lines I passed at the top.  Look close.  Photo 2 – When I looked down from the ridge I noticed a road that exits San Marcos Pass just after crossing the bridge.  I figured this road would have a great view so I stopped on my way home to take this photo.

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