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Knapps Castle an easy stroll away

Santa Barbara News-Press 17 June 2005

LEAH ETLING

Trail named for former contributor of funds and energy to community

TAKE A HIKE / One in an occasional series on local hiking spots

We took our high school senior yearbook photo at Knapps Castle. I didn't go, rationalizing that it was just too far away.

It was a great idea on the photographer's part. The class posed on the ruins of the burned mansion, the Santa Ynez Valley sprawled out behind them, their future ahead.

As easy and rewarding hikes go, Knapps Castle off of East Camino Cielo Road is actually not far at all. It's bout three and a half miles from the intersection of Highway 154 and East Camino Cielo, then a short walk to the former hilltop sanctuary of George Owen Knapp.

Knapp came to Santa Barbara in 1912 and was a large contributor of funds and energy to the community. Among his causes were building mountain roads, aiding nurses studying at Cottage Hospital and donating organs to several local churches.

The mountain roads conveniently allowed access to his mountain lodge, which was one of four homes he built along the Santa Ynez Mountains. He started seven sandstone buildings in 1916, and the house took four years to build. It was purchased in 1940 by Francis Holden, and burned down just five weeks later in a wildfire.

The trailhead to Knapps Castle is through a gate on the north side of the road. It's private property although public access is currently allowed.

For a more ambitious hike after you visit the castle, take the Snyder trail, which forks to the left right before the castle turn. You can go up to three miles down to Paradise and the Santa Ynez River. This hike gives you a unique perspective on the Cold Springs Arch Bridge.

  • TRAIL WORK: Volunteers will assist the Forest Service in rebuilding the trail from the Red Rock Trailhead to the base of Gibraltar Dam on June 25. Work will consist of rolling rocks in the river bed and at the river crossings to re-establish the trail.

    The trail will cross the Santa Ynez River at several locations, so volunteers should plan to get wet on this project.

    Bring a lunch, drinking water, sunglasses and plenty of sunscreen. Meet at the Los Prietos Ranger Station (3505 Paradise Road) at 8 a.m. to carpool to Red Rock Trailhead. For more information call Kerry Kellogg at (805) 967-3481.

    On June 18, The Santa Barbara Mountain Bike Trail Volunteers will lead work on the Jesusita Trail. Meet at 8 a.m. at the Jesusita Cater Water Treatment Plant at the end of San Roque Road. The work will include brushing sections of the trail. Bring lunch, water, work shoes, gloves, long pants, a long-sleeved shirt and a helmet. Visit www.sbmtv.org for more info.