Montecito Magazine 2020

John Culbertson, a dedicated trail steward who has worked on this trail for decades, loves the com- munity spirit found here. “People are my favorite part of the trail,” he says. “Everybody waves, stops and talks. It’s a nice feeling. And that’s what public access is all about.” Phase 1 of the hike is relatively easy, though its south-facing slopes can be hot and dusty in the midday summer sun. It ascends 2.25 miles up to 822 feet, gentle enough for active children but high enough to challenge hardcore trail runners and hook hikers with beautiful valley views. To access the trailhead, it’s best to park on Meadow View Lane near Carpinteria High School. From here, the trail passes a kiosk with a trail map. Phases 2 and 3 are more challenging and are best for a daylong hike or an overnight backpack- ing trip. “Th farther you go, the rougher it gets,” says John. “It’s the longest and hardest front coun- try trail.” Ashlee Mayfield loves the trail’s upper reaches, “Phase 3 is by far my favorite part of the Franklin Trail. Although you have to work hard to get there, it’s worth every drop of sweat!” she says. Wildlife watching is also rewarding on the trail’s upper reaches. Over the years, John Culbert- son has seen plenty of animals on the trail — espe- cially before the Thomas Fire raked these hillsides. “Before the fire, there were up to five bear sightings 43 on the trail in a day,” says John. David Allen, anoth- er passionate trail steward, has also seen many bear tracks, as well as bobcat and mountain lion tracks. But he insists hikers shouldn’t worry about wildlife encounters. “In my experience, they tend to be a little shy of people,” says David. “People should set aside their fears and just enjoy being in nature.” Birds are also abundant. Red-tailed and red- shouldered hawks are common, and trail users might see ospreys, falcons, woodpeckers, Califor- nia quail, flickers, hummingbirds, northern harri- ers and turkey vultures. John has also seen a golden eagle pair patrolling the trail’s upper reaches. “Many animals were lost to both the fire and flood,” says John, “but all are making a comeback.” Thanks to heartfelt community efforts, the his- toric Franklin Trail is once again buzzing with life. From the kiosk at the trailhead with casts of ani- mal tracks and a box of bells for mountain bikers to the dog bowls placed around every few bends for parched pets, hikers can feel the love on this trail. “Th trail brings everyone together,” com- ments David Allen. “It’s right here in town. It’s free, and it’s beautiful.” John Culbertson seconds that. “Th Carpinteria community has done a great job of getting this trail open. Now it’s time to just go use it.” u For all your Moving and Storage Needs Established 1918 (805) 963-4493 • (805) 684-4000 1222 Cravens Lane, Carpinteria, California 93013 H AZELWOOD LLIED V AN L INES M C C ANN M INI -S TORAGE WOODBLOCK PRINT © KIMBERLY ATKINS