Phase III Franklin Trail Collaboration

Planning for Phase III began when the Santa Barbara County Trails Council (Trails Council) was asked by community organizations to manage the project because of the Trails Council’s experience working with the U.S Forest Service on a similar project in the Los Padres National Forest above the Baron Ranch.

In March of 2015 we organized a kick-off meeting with project stakeholders and made plans with the U.S. Forest Service to

  • Secure an agreement with the U.S. Forest Service to plan, construct, and maintain the trail
  • Retain the services of environmental consultants to create documents for environmental approval
  • Raise funds to pay for the work needed
  • Provide volunteer opportunities for community members

The tasks outlined were familiar to both organizations since the Forest Service and the Trails Council have an established and proven long term cooperative working relationship supporting and maintaining trails on forest lands. The Trails Council (a non-profit organization) and partners have worked closely with the Forest Service to conduct frequent and ongoing volunteer trail maintenance projects and assistance with improving hiking trails in the front country areas of Santa Barbara as well as more remote trails wilderness trails.

franklin-trail-time-lineFor the agreement with the Forest Service, the Trails Council proposed to restore and maintain a 2.69-mile extension of the historic Santa Barbara County Franklin Trail, primarily onto and across land under the management of the Los Padres National Forest (LPNF). The proposed trail would extend from the existing Santa Barbara County portion of the Franklin Trail to the crest of the Santa Ynez Mountains.

Map by Ray Ford

Map by Ray Ford

The project will complete the final phase of the restoration of one of Santa Barbara’s oldest routes into the backcountry. The trail was originally completed in 1913 and served as a major point of access to Los Padres National Forest for more than a half century until property owners at the lower part of the trail closed it to public use. Thanks to the efforts of the local Carpinteria community and Santa Barbara County Parks, the lower part of the trail was re-opened in 2103 and then extended to the Los Padres Forest boundary in 2015. The final phase through Los Padres Forest land will open the final section needed to provide access to the crest of the Santa Ynez Mountains and interior parts of the forest.

The project is located immediately behind Carpinteria in Santa Barbara County, California, approximately 3 air miles north of Carpinteria High School. The trail will link the existing 5.2-mile portion of the Franklin Trail, managed by Santa Barbara County, with lands under the management of LPNF. The proposed restoration will enhance non-motorized public access to an area of LPNF that is currently inaccessible via any established route. Carpinteria residents and others will have access to an area of the Forest that has been closed to them since the 1970s. More about the trail project is posted here.

The agreement with the Forest Service included Trails Council constructing and maintaining this trail at little or no direct cost to the U.S. Forest Service. As part of an ongoing project funding campaign Trails Council has received grants and donations from community members to fund project construction and environmental review. The Trails Council will also enter into a formal agreement with the U.S. Forest Service to maintain the proposed trail and establish a fund dedicated solely to funding future trail maintenance.

The Project Consists of Four Phases

  1. Planning and evaluation of environmental impacts (NEPA);
  2. Design review and finalization of trail route;
  3. Construction of the trail; and
  4. Long term maintenance of the trail.

Phase III Franklin Trail Project Documents

franklin trail vista

Community Collaboration

The Trails Council is collaborating with the US Forest Service, the Friends of Franklin TrailMontecito Trails FoundationLos Padres Forest Association and the Santa Barbara Sierra Club Group to extend the modern day Franklin Trail across its historic route through the forest. Thousands of volunteer hours have been invested in the project already, with more volunteer opportunities pending for community members. For more information visit our Franklin Trail Project page or contact: Mark Wilkinson. 805.708.6173