Elevation Gain-100′ to Jesusita Trail
Difficulty– Very easy; great for kids
Topo– Santa Barbara
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The trail beyond Stevens Park wanders through a beautiful oak-filled canyon, whose combination of picturesque scenery and easy hiking is perfect for children. There are lots of places to stop by the creek and mortars cut into the rock by the Chumash when they once used this area. This a perfect place to go for an afternoon picnic, game of volleyball, or canyon hike.
From the freeway drive 1.5 miles north on Las Positas to Calle Fresno, which is just below Foothill Road (Las Positas becomes San Roque Road at the top). Turn left on Calle Fresno, then right on Canon Drive to reach the park entrance.
The hike begins at the upper end of the park where the grass gives way to a wide dirt path which is very easy for even the youngest of children to walk on. Almost immediately you are immersed in canyon vegetation with oak trees and sycamore trees your companions.
A hundred yards takes you under the Foothill Road bridge which is high overhead. The path continues along the creek and for the next quarter mile is wide, rising slightly but still easy walking. There are several spots to reach the creek and on the right an absolutely beautiful grass meadow with excellent views of Cathedral Peak.
Beyond the meadow, the trail rises steeply over a small ridge then drops back down to the creek. The path is much narrower here. The creek jogs to the right and then back to the left just ahead. There are several great places for the kids to play at the edge of the creek and a fabulous oak forest on top of a hill to the right. There are paths leading up into it, and a beautiful place to sit on top of the rocks and look down on the creek from the shade of a gnarly old oak tree but you are better off leaving this area alone: there is poison oak everywhere.
As the path turns to the right and follows the canyon, you will reach a creek crossing and a small pool. Just across the creek is a second oak forest and a ring of truck-sized boulders which form a very peaceful and secluded glen.
Beyond the glen the trail splits. One path leads back to the creek; the other up over a hill to a spillway. This is a good spot to end the lower canyon hike. However, if you would like to continue further you can. The Jesusita Trail is just a bit past the upper end of the spillway. Stay on the left side of the basin and follow the path through an opening in the brush then across the creek. The Jesusita Trail is a hundred yards beyond the crossing.