Franklin Trail

Franklin Trail is an old trail in Carpinteria that had been closed for decades. Only recently has it been restored and re-opened to the public. It’s beautiful, well-maintained and well-marked. Unfortunately, gloomy conditions kept me from fully enjoying the coastal views the trail provides.  It was nice and cool, however, so I figured that was a fair trade. The trail has been worked in three phases. Today I hiked the first two.
Hiking Distance: 10 1/2 miles

Driving Directions: This area can be a little weird.  Sometimes you can exit on only one side of the freeway.  These directions are the Northbound 101 Fwy.    In Carpinteria, exit the 101 on Casitas Pass Rd.  At the top of the ramp go straight.  Just before you get back on the freeway turn right.    Turn left at the next stop sign.  Drive until the road ends at Linden Ave.  Turn right.  Drive up Linden Ave. and turn left on Malibu Dr.  The sign for Malibu Dr. is small.  If you reach Foothill Rd., which curves left, and come to the high school, you’ve missed the turn.  On Malibu Dr., at the first set of stop signs, turn right on Sterling Ave.  Franklin Creek Park is on the right.  Park along the road.

               

Franklin Creek Park is a little green belt with rows young trees. I’d love to come back and see how much the trees grown and the park changes in the years to come.  At the north end of the park I took the signed bicycle/pedestrain path which runs next to the creek.  Very shortly I arrived at Foothill Rd. Right across Foothill is Carpinteria High School. The trail runs around the school to the left.

               

   I was heading up there, onto that shrouded ridge.

               

        The first half mile of the trail is fenced in as it runs passed the high school and then through a private ranch.

               

I climbed into the hills.  Breathing deeply, embracing the moment, stress and negativity fell away. All that human drama;  Politics, social issues, problems personal and professional, disappeared in the dust kicked up by my boots.  Phase 1 is moderately steep, for the most part, and a constant climb.

Gorgeous Rock Formation, Defaced.

               

   The trail empties onto a fire road.  Soon after, at 1.9 miles, I reached a turn-off for a bench.  Very pretty.  Looks like it’s been carved from a single tree.

             Another 0.3 miles and I was at a gate and the end of Phase 1. I walked around to the right and continued. Phase 2 is all fire road.

               

Lush invasive ivy was a common sight. Lovely to look at, deadly to the native plants it smothers.

As I rose visibility lessened. Power lines melted into thin air. I love hiking in these conditions. It feels like I’m the only person in the World.

               

Shapes and Shadows
Oak trees lined the trail, each wonderful and individual.

        A secret swing by the trail.

             Spiky thistle was all around, sometimes growing well overhead. It grew across the trail in many places. I did my best to dodge it but was often unsuccessful. The sting is mild but it lingers.

               

               

I passed another bench. I’ll go out on a limb and say the view from here is spectacular. But for me, on this day, I couldn’t see a darn thing.

   At 3.4 miles, the trail began a down-up-down-up sequence. The hills were steep in both directions. The trail bottomed out at two creek crossings (at the first, the creek ran beneath the slightly elevated trail). Before the second downhill, there is a split in the road. Go right and downhill, not left and uphill.

               

               

All the mist and spooky trees, I felt a little like Hansel and Gretel (mostly Hansel).

        Photo 1 – Pipe near the second crossing

   The road rises to a ridge.

               

There’s a mess of power lines at the top.

             

Enjoying the ridge

   I hoped, because hikers are relatively new to this area, I would see some wildlife. And right in front of me appeared a gentle deer. She stared at me as I approached and then scampered off.

   Sweet Angel

   Phase 2 ends at this sign. Phase 3 does not continue along the fire road but rather up the single track trail to the right.

               

I headed up Phase 3 just to take a look. It continues on for another 3 miles or so.  I went about a quarter of a mile.  Photo 2 – Animal tracks – Had the deer gone up this trail?  Photo 3 – There’s a bench just a few yards from the turn-off.

               

   Photo 3 – Nature can be cruel.  Insects struggle in a spiderweb.

Well, hello. The deer popped her head over a crest in the trail. I was mere yards away now. It didn’t take long for her to bolt up the hill and out of sight.

               

Wooden Strangeness

        Heading back, I stopped at the upper bench to rest and eat lunch. Tattered Tibetan prayer flags adorned a tower nearby.  The fog had cleared a bit.

               

I’m not sure if this is a dandelion, but it was shedding downy seeds over the side of the trail.

             A couple shots of the city of Carpinteria and a close-up of the oil platforms a few miles offshore.

        A red leaf provided a touch of color on this drab day.

I didn’t see blue sky until I reached the high school again.

        A good long day.  Thanks to those who helped making hiking here possible again.

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