If you like the best views in town, you’ll like this trail. The route follows Romero Road for 1.5 miles down towards town, then intersects with Romero Trail. Though you have a steep hike to the crest, once there you’ll feel like you are on top of the world. The trail across the mountain crest was once known as the Island View Trail, though it has been scarred by motorcycle use.
Please think about what it means to take your dog out on the trail when there is no water and it is really hot. This from an article I wrote a few years ago .....
Hot Days, No Water, and Dead Dogs
Ray Ford/Santa Barbara Independent
Erin and Brian Caramadre are from Thousand Oaks but they visit Santa Barbara often because they love our trails. One of their favorites is Romero Canyon because of the variety of scenery and the views from the top of the crest.
Early last July they headed up the trail looking for a good workout, perhaps 6-7 miles total, first up the canyon trail to the point where they reached the old Romero jeepway, up it to the top of the mountains, then east across remnants of the old Ocean View Trail and finally back down Romero Trail.
The couple reached Romero Saddle about 1pm and it was getting hot but they’d brought plenty of water, more than a gallon and a half between the two of them. At the saddle two mountain bikers stopped them and asked for water. Brian provided them with some and then they headed up onto the ridge. By then the temperature was reaching the high 80s but at least they had a breeze to cool them off and they relaxed, enjoying the 360 degree views that the ridgetop offered.
After a last glance out over the backcountry, Brian and Erin started down the switchbacks that would take them back down to the canyon trail. Not too far down the trail they heard a woman crying for help. “She just kept screaming ‘Help! Help!’ over and over,” Brian remembers.
Within a few minutes they reached a point on the trail where it was cutting across a particularly steep section of the canyon. “I could hear the woman down in the bushes, off the trail,” Erin added. “Brian scooted on his butt down the hillside to get to them. It was so steep that he had to hold on to branches to keep from falling.”
When Brian reached the woman he could see that she was desperately clutching at two golden retrievers who’d most likely headed off the trail in search of shade. “They were caught in the brush,” Brian told me, “and that was all that was keeping them from plunging another 100 feet or so further down the ravine below us.”
Erin yelled down to the woman, “Where’s your water?” The woman, who was dressed in shorts and a tank top pointed to a small bottle of Arrowhead water, which was all she had. “I was shocked,” Erin added, “that she would be out here in the middle of the day with two 100 pound dogs and not have enough water for them.”
Using half of the water they had left, Brian began pouring it on the female retriever’s head, desperately trying to cool the dog off. Within minutes, however, the dog died.
Moving it out of the way, Brian grabbed the male retriever and put every effort into hauling it back up to the trail where Erin, who by chance happened to be a veterinarian, could assess the dog’s condition and see if there was anything she could do to save it’s life.
At this point another hiker came by but unfortunately he didn’t have much water and the Caramadres only had a few quarts of their own left. “Unfortunately, our efforts were too little and too late. The dogs were beyond the point of surviving before we ever got there,” Brian explained. By this time the woman had left the area, too distraught to watch what was happening.
“Poor Brian and I had to sit there and comfort the dog in its last breaths,” Erin added. “Then it became a decision of what to do now. The two dogs had died, we no longer had any more water, the other hiker had used up the last of his and we still had an hour and a half of hiking ahead of us to reach our car.
As a post-Katrina volunteer in New Orleans, Erin had seen her share of tragedy. “But there I was in a facility where I could help the animals that were being brought in to us,” Erin continued. “It felt so helpless to know what needed to be done and know there was absolutely nothing I could do. This was a very bad thing to watch.”
A day after, Santa Barbara County Search & Rescue (sbcsar.org) came down to retrieve the dogs. Longtime team member Jim Frank explained that this was not an isolated event. “Three dogs died last year from heat stroke,” he said, “and we rescued another that had fallen off Mission Falls along Tunnel Trail.
“If there is anything good that can come of this,” Erin said at the end of our conversation, “it would be that every dog owner will learn how easy it is for a dog to die out on the trail if they don’t have access to cool water and shade. This woman wasn’t more than an hour’s hike from her car at the top of the mountains but it was midday, very hot and where she was heading had no water and very little shade. Given where she was heading there was a good chance there wouldn’t make it back. That is so sad.“
From the saddle, follow Romero Road down toward the coast for 1.5 miles to its intersection with the Romero Trail. At this point turn left and take the upper section of the trail which rises steeply through the chaparral for a mile to the mountaintop. At the crest are remnants of an old trail—the Island View Trail—which once yo-yo’ed across the eastern part of the crest towards Carpinteria. Some of it has been lost due to the construction of a fuelbreak along the top of the Santa Ynez Mountains and partly because of the encroachment of motorcycles.
Yet the view is still magnificent, the trail name still appropriate, and the feeling is one of almost being able to float over the land like a hang glider soaring on the currents.
From the crest you have several choices. The most direct is to head west following the ridgeline as it bobs up and down until you arrive back at the saddle. A second choice is to continue north on Romero Trail which drops down to Pendola Road and follow this uphill for a half mile to Romero Saddle. A third choice would be to head east on the old Island View Trail until you intersect the Divide Peak Jeepway, turn left and walk down it to Pendola Road and then go left on this and continue the 1.2 miles back up to the saddle.