This is a short loop hike but it makes for a very pleasant walk when you want something which isn’t too difficult. It can be combined with loops involving other trails for more strenuous hikes. Along the way you will get a glimpse of a few of Montecito’s fine estates.
If you are looking for a hike which isn’t too easy nor too hard, has nice views, and can provide you with an hour or two of quiet relation, the Old Pueblo Trail is for you. It is a very nice trail for the kids as well.
The trail is prototypical of those you will find in the Montecito foothills. Sandwiched in-between private property boundaries, the trails are more a collection of short sections which have been patched together. It is to the credit of the Montecito Trails Foundation that the organization has been able to do such a great job of getting the easements and financing the trail construction to make them possible.
The Old Pueblo Trail’s character seems to change as you round every bend. At one point you will find yourself immersed in a tunnel of chaparral; then around a corner or over the next hill and you will be following a chain-link fence or gazing down into the backyard of a hillside estate. Then you will be back in the chaparral tunnel once again.
The trail begins not too far up into San Ysidro Canyon. It is a pleasant .4 mile hike along the edges of several large houses and driveways to the trailhead. For those of you who have hiked here in the past, the first several hundred yards of the trail will look much different.
As you walk up the hill past the last huge estate, at first glance you probably won’t be able to find the route. The owners of the complex have extended the gardens—of which there are several acres—far up the hillsides and beyond the trail. The route now leads right through the gardens and around the top side of the house (mansion?) through a very pretty section of chaparral.
Several hundred yards of easy uphill bring you to a knoll and the beginning of the views out over the Montecito foothills. For the next half mile you will find yourself dropping down along the edges of several estates, winding through another section of very enchanting chaparral, and then more houses. At one point, as you begin to drop down into another canyon, you will find yourself looking almost directly down into the patio area of a large Mediterranean-style house and one of the nicest pools you will find anywhere.
Not too far beyond this estate you will come to a long chain link fence and what appears to be the end of the Old Pueblo Trail. Turning right will take you down the Wiman Trail and a very pretty canyon back to Park Lane, not too far from the San Ysidro trailhead.
The Old Pueblo Trail angles to the left and climbs uphill next to the fence, then heads down across a small canyon and along an easement which parallels a private driveway. Several of my favorite homes are along this stretch. The driveway is a hundred yards long and drops you right onto the upper part of Park Lane. From here you can return back along the Old Pueblo Trail and take the Wiman Trail to your car. Or, if you don’t mind walking along Park Lane, it is a very beautiful .7 miles back down to the San Ysidro trailhead.
It is also possible to make this a longer (and much more strenuous) loop hike by continuing up Park Lane two hundred yards to the Buena Vista trailhead. See Day Hike #23 for more information about this loop hike.