Make it McMenemy!
Hike of the Month: McMenemy Loop
Length of Trail: 6 Miles
Elevation: Approximately 1,000 feet
Level of Difficulty: Moderate
How to Get There: Drive south from Santa Barbara on highway 101. Exit the freeway on San Ysidro Road. Turn left and drive 1 mile to East Valley Road. Turn right on East Valley Road and drive 1 mile before turning left onto Park Lane. Drive on Park Lane and at the junction in the road stay right and follow East Mountain Drive to the dead end. Park the car, lace up the boots, and enter the San Ysidro hiking trail on the right side of the pavement.
Description: The McMenemy Loop actually starts at the San Ysidro trailhead in a rolling residential portion of Montecito. The San Ysidro Trail is well traveled and well marked. As the trail weaves next to San Ysidro Creek, watch for the McMenemy Lower Trail sign. Turn left as McMenemy Trail crosses over San Ysidro Creek and passes through a thick grove of Eucalyptus trees. The trail quickly gains elevation in an exposed section of switchbacks that offer priceless views of the city below.
A stone bench dedicated to Colonel Logan T. McMenemy and a stone hitching post sit at the top of the switchbacks, a great place for a rest and a view of the Channel Islands. Directly behind the bench, a trail marker indicates the start of the Girard Trail. Halfway up the climb watch for a lookout trail to the east and hike down several steps to a rocky outcropping with incredible views of the Pacific Ocean and the coastal communities of Montecito and Santa Barbara. Beyond the lookout point, Girard Trail continues to the Edison Catway. You can return from here to complete a 4 mile round-trip trek, but if you are looking for more adventure, follow the Edison Catway west to the top of Saddlerock Trail and soak in more views of Santa Barbara. After a break, descend Saddlerock Trail to reconnect with McMenemy Trail, thus completing a six-mile loop that lands you back at the San Ysidro parking area aglow with more tales from the path less traveled.
Photos by Chris Clemens