Friday, April 20 , 2018, 1:19 am | Fair 55º


Captain’s Log: The Road to Paradise — Just a Short Drive Out of Santa Barbara

My guess is that it was springtime when the road was named Paradise because this road, off Highway 154 a few miles past San Marcos Summit, seems to have been paved through a springtime wonderland. Now that we are nearly into spring and more days are warm than cold, it beckons all varieties of folks looking to get away from town even for just a few hours.

Less than a half-hour drive out of Santa Barbara, the picturesque road offers a nurturing and enjoyable break from daily life.

Do you like mountains? Paradise Road runs through a canyon environment, with major ranges on both sides. The views are good enough to fill the soul, and include streamside settings, oak-covered hills, wooded ridges, craggy cliffs and dry rolling landscape. Most anyone can find a satisfying view.

Do you like waterways? The upper reaches of the river that feeds Lake Cachuma is a perennial stream, but there are times of the year when there isn’t much in the way of water flowing above ground. Winter and spring are when the stream is most boisterous, though we’ve had a fairly dry winter.

There are any number of good splashing and swimming spots along the stream. The best one is just before the road crosses the stream the last time and ends in a parking lot. This particular pool is sometimes large and fairly deep in spots.

Do you like to fish? Early morning is the best time to get next to the water, or wade quietly and cast for trout and bass and carp. Fishing can be excellent at times. Farther down along the stream, ponds hold big catfish and surprisingly large carp. Our local tackle shop, Hook, Line & Sinker at 4010 Calle Real in Santa Barbara, can sell you the fishing gear and licenses plus provide important fishing advice.

Do you like to camp? This road was designed with a plethora of campgrounds along its fringes, and it is a very popular camping area. Camping options range from fairly plush to no-frills rustic camps. Campgrounds are routinely maintained. It is nice to have such a wide range of options to fit all preferences and budgets.

Do you like to hike? I lost count of the trailheads along the road, but suffice to say that you would have to travel far to find a road with more good hiking opportunities. Day hikes to nearby scenic spots are fun, and serious backpackers can head out on long pack trips.

My favorite hike requires parking at the very end of the public road. Originating from the back of that parking lot, a Forest Service road travels the hills back to Gibraltar Reservoir. It is a scenic walk on a decent surface. Rather than come back the same way, I prefer to walk out on the path meandering along the streambed. I’ve encountered some very colorful characters, as well as some uninhibited parties along that path, so be prepared for all life forms. It is paradise for everyone.

— Capt. David Bacon operates WaveWalker Charters and is president of SOFTIN Inc., a nonprofit organization providing seafaring opportunities for those in need. Visit to learn more about the organization and how you can help. Click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.

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