Baron Ranch Trail is a 6.7 mile loop trail located near Goleta, CA that offers the chance to see wildlife. The trail is good for all skill levels and primarily used for hiking.
As other reviewers have indicated, this trail is only open Sat./Sun./Mon. and no dogs allowed. The trail starts at the gate where you park and down a crumbly asphalt access road about 1.5 miles to a chain link fence with a lockable gate. It then becomes gravel with sections of dirt along former avocado, pomegranate and citrus trees, and you enjoy spotty shade of old oaks and sycamores as you ascend approx. 450' elevation gain to the right of a dry creek bed toward the loop at the top of the canyon. Once you reach the signage of the loop (near the creek bed crossing) the trail (going counter-clockwise) begins to narrow and become steeper, gaining about 750'+ of elevation in about 3/4 mile or so to the top point of the hillside where you have some nice views of the ocean and the full canyon stretching out to the shoreline. The steepest portion of the trail is very rocky and has been overgrown with weeds and spotted with shrubbery that has some stickers. You'll see from my photos there are portions of the trail (near top) that are barely as wide as your body and I held some thorny shrubbery to the side as I passed so as not to scratch bare legs. I'm not in the best shape, but this trail took me closer to 4 hours to complete and if there's any advice I can give it's to bring extra water and take advantage of shady spots during the main ascent. There were some flies and nats on the trail too, so I wish I would have worn a hat but I was glad I brought a small towel to wipe face and swat the nats. If I went again I would probably go in spring when there's a few more wildflowers. I saw one hummingbird, some condors and there was only one other mountain biker on the trail from 11:00 am on Sunday to 3:45 pm.
This trail is north of Santa Barbara/Goleta, in California. Drive north on Highway 101 along the coast. Exit the highway about 2 miles north of the Refugio State Beach turnoff. This is not a highway offramp and it's not marked, so be alert and slow down. When you arrive at the frontage road, turn LEFT and drive about a mile and a half to the white gate. Park at the gate and walk in. The trail is only open Sat-Sun-Mon so plan accordingly. We went on the Monday after Thanksgiving and had the entire trail to ourselves.
The trail starts out on old, worn asphalt and goes for about half a mile until you walk through a chain-link fence gate. The path is well-marked with signs. You'll hike about a mile and a half through orchards, primarily avocado, but also citrus and cheremoya. The trail is on ranch roadbeds, some semi-paved, most are dirt. It seems pretty clear that the current owners are not replacing trees as they die, and actually are cutting trees to allow native plants to take over again. Some of the hillsides are pretty bare. Once past the orchards, you'll be into some really nice, typical central California coastal scrub-forest. Look for the eroded limestone cliff on the right side of the trail.
The trail splits into a loop where it crosses the creek. On our hike in November, after a little bit of rain, but a dry summer, there was some water here and there in the creek but it was mostly dry. The elevation gain is about 450 feet to the split, via a steady but not difficult ascent. That's about 2 miles in. It climbs pretty steeply after that to about 1350 feet. If you do the whole thing it's about 6.6 miles.
There is apparently some work afoot to connect this trail to the West Camino Cielo trail, which would be pretty amazing. You can read more about that, here: http://www.fs.fed.us/nepa/fs-usda-pop.php/?project=35610
This is a mild hike that is within a private ranch that has been recently opened to the public.
The trail is very well marked, runs next to a beautiful shaded creek for close to 4 miles before hitting the loop. Top elevation at peak is at about 1350 ft.
NOTES to keep in mind. 1) The trail is ONLY open on Monday Saturday & Sunday.
2) No dogs. 3) To get to trail make sure to look for + (road sign) about 2 miles after Refugio Beach State Park. Be sure to slow and merge into right lane since this a sharp turnoff freeway as opposed to a freeway off ramp. (Easy to miss)
A very good hike for a beginner and is only a few miles past the northern mountain side 12 mile double loop at Bill Wallace Trail at El Capitan Campground