Restoration and Recreational Areas

By partnering with several local, state, and federal agencies, as well as non-profit organizations, the RRWMD has created and expanded recreational areas for the public to enjoy and has established restoration areas in many sensitive habitats in our community.

Note: Due to the Alisal Fire, the Baron Ranch Restoration and Recreation Area is closed to the public until further notice. 

Baron Ranch Restoration and Conservation

Beginning in July 2009, RR&WMD restored over 50 acres of barren, disturbed and active orchard areas on Baron Ranch. The restoration has included:

  • Restoring native communities such as Coastal Live Oak Riparian Forest, Freshwater Marsh, Ceanothus megacarpus Chaparral, Southern Willow Scrub, Venturan Coastal Sage Scrub, and Southern Coastal Live Oak Woodland; and

  • Planting over 39,000 native plants, shrubs, and trees, including over 5,000 coast live oak trees, over 5,700 willow trees, over 300 blue elderberry and 300 sensitive plants (Plummer's baccharis, Santa Barbara honeysuckle, and Hoffman's nightshade).

The restored areas have significantly expanded the Arroyo Quemado riparian corridor and provide valuable habitat to a wide variety of wildlife, including American black bear, bobcat, mountain lion, coyote, grey fox, California mule deer, numerous bird species including several raptor species and the Federal and State listed Least Bell's vireo, reptiles, such as the southwestern pond turtle (state listed species of special concern and under review for federal listing under the Endangered Species Act), and amphibians, such as the federally listed  (threatened) and state listed (species of special concern) California red-legged frog.  Over 30 acres of the Arroyo Quemado riparian corridor and adjacent upland areas will be permanently protected in a restrictive covenant.  An additional 100+ acres encompassing the northern portions of Arroyo Quemado west towards the watershed boundary encompassing California red-legged frog critical habitat are also proposed to be permanently protected in a conservation easement as a part of a Habitat Conservation Plan being prepared for the operation of the Tajiguas Landfill and ReSource Center.

Arroyo Quemado Trail at the Baron Ranch

Welcome to the Arroyo Quemado Trail on the Baron Ranch!

The Baron Ranch is located along the Gaviota Coast, approximately 25 miles west of Santa Barbara. The Ranch is comprised of 1,083 acres owned and managed by the County Public Works Department, Resource Recovery and Waste Management Division.  A public trail has been constructed on the Ranch and is managed and maintained by the County Parks Department in cooperation with the Santa Barbara Trails Council.  The trail provides public recreational access for hikers, bicyclists (non-motorized), and equestrians. The trailhead is located at the Calle Real frontage road that parallels the north side of Highway 101. In the southern section of the Ranch a pedestrian bridge takes visitors along the west side of Arroyo Quemado, and about a mile from the bridge the trail crosses back to the east side of the creek. The trail consists of a 6-mile loop into the northern portion of the Ranch, as well as a connection to the West Camino Cielo Trail in the National Forest. 

    The only area of the Ranch open to the public is the designated trail.  Public access is prohibited in other areas of the Ranch.  These areas, including areas immediately adjacent to the trail, are used for native plant restoration, wildlife conservation, and agriculture. 

    Baron Ranch provides important habitat for federal and state listed sensitive wildlife species including the California Red-Legged Frog (Rana draytonii), the Least Bell's Vireo (Vireo bellii pusillus), the Southwestern Pond Turtle (Actinemys marmorata pallida), and the Two-Striped Garter Snake (Thamnophis hammondii). Sensitive plants also found at the ranch include Santa Barbara Honeysuckle (Lonicera subspicata var. subspicata), Plummer's Baccharis (Baccharis plummerae ssp. Plummerae) and Hoffmann's Nightshade (Solanum xanti var. Hoffmannii).  

    Threatened and sensitive species are protected under the Federal Endangered Species Act, California Endangered Species Act, and California Department of Fish and Wildlife regulations. Violations are subject to civil and criminal penalties and closure of the trail.

    Other wildlife present at the ranch include: black bear, coyote, mountain lion, rattlesnake, bobcat, deer, raccoon, migratory birds, frogs, turtles, and several species of raptors. Please respect their habitat; you are a visitor to their home.

    Trail Environmental Protection and Regulations

    Stay on the marked trail.

    Please do not disturb the Arroyo Quemado Creek corridor and other native plant habitats. Keep all activity on the designated trail. Sensitive species are present in habitats adjacent to the trail.

    Do not bring plants or wildlife onto the ranch.

    Animals not native to the ranch, such as bullfrogs, and non-native plants can seriously harm native species and are difficult and costly to remove once introduced.

    Dogs or other pets are not allowed.

    Sensitive species are present on the ranch. Dogs can damage egg masses if they enter the creek, harass frogs and turtles, and/or chase birds.

    Do not remove plants or animals from the ranch.

    If you are fortunate enough to encounter wildlife during your visit, for your safety and theirs do not approach, touch, startle, or feed the wildlife. Take photos instead of collecting flowers or plants.

    Protect the soundscape.

    Speak softly. Keep your music to yourself. Wildlife, especially during their breeding seasons, is sensitive to loud noises.

    Pack out what you bring in.

    No littering or dropping food scraps.

    Do not disturb the soil, geological formations, and archaeological artifacts.

    Trail Use/Safety Information 

    • Baron Ranch trails fall under the enforceable provisions of Santa Barbara County Code - Chapter 26. Violations are subject to fines.
    • The trail is open from 8:00 a.m. to sunset.
    • Cell service may be limited or not available.
    • The trail is in a high fire hazard area. No smoking or fires.
    • Due to the remote nature of the trail, visitors should not hike/bike/ride alone.
    • Poison oak, ticks, stinging nettles and other natural hazards are present throughout the Ranch.
    • Vehicles may be present on the trail/roads at any time in association with restoration, conservation and agricultural activities.

    If there is an emergency, dial 911.

    The trail may be temporarily closed. Observe all posted signs.

    Foothill Open Space 

    The Foothill Open Space Area, once a regional landfill, is located between the cities of Santa Barbara and Goleta. It served the South Coast of Santa Barbara County before the Tajiguas Landfill opened in 1967. The site is now valuable urban open space and houses Hearts, a therapeutic riding program for children and adults with disabilities. Funded through two grants (County Planning Mitigation Fund and the California Department of Parks & Recreation Habitat Conservation Matching Grant Fund), approximately 7 acres of the Closed Foothill Landfill were restored with over 10,800 native plants through community planting days and through the use of a landscape contractor. A trail system was developed and included the installation of 8 interpretive signs.  The trail system consisting of 3 loops and is accessible to the El Sueno neighborhood by an entrance gate at the north end El Sueno Road.  

      Also, a biofuel innovator, Russell Teall, uses an area at Growing Solutions to grow jatropha plants, whose seeds hold great potential as a viable alternative fuel source.

      Foxen Canyon Oak Tree Replanting

      The Closed Foxen Canyon Landfill and Santa Ynez Valley Recycling and Transfer Station are located in the Santa Ynez Valley along Foxen Canyon Road.  RRWMD planted a total of 76 valley oaks and 120 coast live oaks on the Chamberlin Ranch adjacent to the Landfill/Transfer Station. The first planting was completed in winter/spring 2017 and include installing 106 oak seedlings (46 valley oak and 60 coast live oak).  The oaks were grown in cardboard "tree pots" from acorns collected at the ranch and grown into seedlings through the Agricultural Commissioner's high school planting program.  The second planting was done in Spring 2008 and included 120 oak seedlings (30 valley oak and 90 coast live oak) again using locally collected acorns grown into seedlings using the high school planting program.  Additional planting are being planned in the future.

      Carpinteria Bluff Natural Area

      The RRWMD cleaned and planted new vegetation at an abandoned burn dump near the City of Carpinteria in 2005. Used for decades by local residents and nearby oil extraction facilities as a place to burn garbage, this seaside property is now successfully restored and contributes aesthetically and biologically to the City of Carpinteria's bluff open space and trails, thereby providing access to community beaches and offering panoramic views of the Santa Barbara Channel.

      Carpinteria Bluffs