I am a frequent hiker and biker in the Santa Ynez Mountains here in Santa Barbara, most often visiting Romero Canyon. While I think that both sports are incredible, they are many times incompatible. Bikers should be allowed on unimproved dirt roads and trails eight feet in width. There, common courtesy and common sense breed amicability between participants in the two sports. I do feel strongly, however, that we cyclists should not be able to ride on trails such as Romero Canyon Trail. Its sensitive riparian habitat has suffered severe destruction during the last four to five years, now that it is no longer off-limits. Spring is here, and I am disgusted and saddened to see the lupines mowed down in the very few areas in which they are found; and even more drastic is the very sensitive patch of rare Humboldt lilies that are also decapitated and withered on the edge of the ever-widening trail.
On March 22, in the 45 minutes it takes me to hike up to Romero Canyon’s Catwalk junction with my dogs in tow, I counted 17 cyclists who were running down the mountain. This is obscene. Most are friendly and respectful, but the trail has become a scree field where hikers slip regardless of surefootedness or strength. Funny, no one climbs Romero Canyon Creek Trail on bicycle, but many descend, making them the dreaded “downhillers,” a label that they are so fearful to sport.