Community Partners Help Keep Santa Barbara Santa Barbara ™ Partners

Santa Barbara: Rattlesnake Canyon

Column by Outdoor Editor John McKinney, aka The Trailmaster, follow on Facebook.

Rattlesnake Canyon Trail: From Skofield Park to Tin Can Meadow is 3.6 miles round trip with 1,000-foot elevation gain; to Gibraltar Road is 6 miles round trip with 1,500-foot gain

Rattlesnake Canyon Trail is serpentine, but otherwise far more inviting than its name.

The joys of hiking the canyon were first promoted by none other than the Santa Barbara Chamber of Commerce. In 1902 the chamber built “Chamber of Commerce Trail,” an immediate success with both tourists and locals, though both trail and canyon continued to be called Rattlesnake.

In the 1960s, the city of Santa Barbara purchased the canyon as parkland. A handsome wooden sign at the foot of the canyon proudly proclaims: Rattlesnake Canyon Wilderness.

The canyon was severely burned in the Tea Fire of November 2008, but the chaparral community in particular has recovered quite well from the devastation. Red-berried toyon, manzanita with its white urn-shaped flowers, and purple hummingbird sage cloak the slopes.

In Santa Barbara, follow State Street to Los Olivos Street. Head east and proceed a half mile, passing by the Santa Barbara Mission and joining Mission Canyon Road. Follow this road past its intersection with Foothill Road and make a right on Las Canoas Road, continuing to the trailhead, located near the handsome stone bridge that crosses Rattlesnake Creek. Park alongside Las Canoas Road.

From the Rattlesnake Canyon Wilderness sign, head north and soon rock-hop across the creek. A brief ascent leads to a trail that parallels the east side of the creek.

After a half mile, an unsigned trail veers off to the right. (One of The Trailmaster’s favorite byways, this narrow path leads along and above the east bank of Rattlesnake Creek and reunites with the main trail in about a mile.)

Soon after the junction, the main trail draws near the creek and crosses it. The path then ascends past remnants of a small stand of planted pines and into the open for good vistas of coast and ocean. Continue to a creek crossing and notice (you can’t miss it, really) a large flat rock in the middle of the creek known by locals as “Lunch Rock.”


The trail crosses the creek again, continuing along the west bank to open, grassy Tin Can Meadow, named for a homesteader’s cabin constructed of chaparral framing and kerosene can shingles and sidings. For the first quarter of the 20th century, Tin Can Shack was a canyon landmark, mentioned in guidebooks of that era. A 1925 brushfire destroyed the shack.

The apex of the triangular-shaped meadow is a junction. The trail bearing left leads 0.75 mile and climbs 500 feet to an intersection with Tunnel Trail. To the right, Rattlesnake Canyon Trail climbs 0.75 mile and 500 feet to meet Gibraltar Road. The hiker’s reward is an unobstructed view of the South Coast.

Interested in more hikes in Santa Barbara? Check out my guide: HIKE Santa Barbara

Local Views of Santa Barbara

By Dan Seibert

This weekend is the 29th anniversary of I Madonnari Chalk Festival at the Santa Barbara Mission. I participated sixteen years in a row, from 1994 to 2009. Now I’m a spectator, photographer and lover of the art and the chicken dinner, for sale on the lawn.

Walking around the parking lot some drawings have colors that appear brighter and more powerful, or softer and subtle. Those might be hand made chalks using pure pigments. These are a few photos I took at a chalk making workshop.

PS: Happy Memorial Day Weekend

I Madonnari Italian Street Painting Festival at the Santa Barbara Mission

A full calendar of events, complemented by the temperate climate, attracts visitors all year long. In Santa Barbara, the challenge isn’t finding something to do; it’s choosing from a dazzling array of activities. Memorial Day brings I Madonnari, an inspired chalk-painting festival held on the grounds of the Old Mission.

More than 200 artists get down on their hands and knees to create colorful chalk masterpieces on the asphalt in front of the Santa Barbara Mission. Spectators stroll the courtyard at their leisure, then walk down the lawn where an Italian marketplace features food, booths and entertainment. An Italian tradition since the 16th Century, the I Madonnari Street Painting Festival has been a part of Santa Barbara culture for nearly 30 years.

For the Santa Barbara photo of the week, we dig into the View Vault for this 3D/ Virtual Reality look from 2012 by Bill Heller.

“Just check back and look for highlighted links overlaid on the image to move around to other locations.” -Bill Heller

Controls from left to right:
+ Zoom in;
– Zoom out;
change the way the view moves when you drag;
toggle full screen

History: Santa Barbara Gets a Newspaper

On this date in local history – May 24, 1855 – Santa Barbara got its first newspaper, the Santa Barbara Gazette. Printed half in Spanish and half in English, the paper offered Santa Barbara residents welcomed information ranging from legal notices and news to local happenings and bargain specials.

A Day of Remembrance

Let us remember those who lost their lives in this tragedy:
George Chen (19)
Cheng Yuan “James” Hong (20)
Weihan “David” Wang (20)
Katherine Breann Cooper (22)
Christopher Ross Michaels-Martinez (20)
Veronika Elizabeth Weiss (19)

A Better Apology Needed

The Texas pipeline company said they “regret the release”. Is this the same thing as “we are deeply sorry for the oil spill that is killing and harming thousands of fish, birds, sea mammals and their habitat, as well as Santa Barbara’s pristine coastline”? How about an apology to all the businesses that depend on tourism and the impact to their bottom line?
– Shelley Cobb
The Trailmaster photo

84 Years of the Arlington Theatre in Santa Barbara

Today, the Arlington Theatre celebrates its 84th birthday! The Arlington Theatre opened in 1931; but before the theatre, Arlington meant the finest in hotel accommodations (photo below) and the name has been embedded in the history of Santa Barbara.
Michael Redmon, Director of Research at the SB Historical Museum, provides history:

Photo Credit: J W Collinge. The First Arlington Hotel: Solely for use on Santa Barbara View.

Santa Barbara Sports

by Steven Libowitz, provided by the Santa Barbara Sentinel

Tate Delivers the Right Stuff

Santa Barbara isn’t exactly known as a baseball town. Sure, there was a minor league team or two based here for nearly three decades – including a long tenancy by a Single A affiliate in the California League – but the Santa Barbara Dodgers folded up the tent nearly half a century ago in 1967, and the Laguna Ball Park stadium was torn down not long after. Even then, attendance averaged only 225 spectators per game, according to a Wikipedia entry.

On SportsSo it’s understandable that only a few more souls turn out on game days for UCSB baseball at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium, even on the day Dillon Tate pitches. But they should.

Because Tate might just be the best athlete ever to set foot on the soil out at UCSB. He’s definitely the school’s first player ever to be in serious consideration as the top selection in Major League Baseball’s amateur draft, which takes place next month.

The Claremont, California, native – now 21 – is a fearless competitor in possession of a lethal arm. The right-hander has already taken a no-hitter into the seventh inning or beyond twice this year, and while his 6-3 record as of this writing belies his talent level as the Gauchos often don’t hit well when he’s on the mound, his 1.47 ERA (earned-run average) is one of the nation’s best. He has a fastball that often exceeds 95 mph, and a slider and change-up that keeps the hitters off-balance, resulting in a strikeout ratio of more than one batter per inning.

Add to that a 6-foot-2 inch, 200-pound physique, and the make-up of a much older ballplayer and it’s easy to see why dozens of professional scouts show up every time he takes the mound, aiming their radar guns his way, and shaking their heads when another 97-mph heater smacks the catcher’s mitt or a sneaky fast slider makes a hitter’s knees buckle.

Tate was UCSB’s star closer last spring but was stretched out over the fall and winter, and made the rotation due to a teammate’s injury just before the season started in March. Now he’s set to capitalize on that conversion to a much more valuable role as the draft approaches.

Keith Law, ESPN’s baseball scouting guru and a fan, is still touting Tate as a potential pick at the number-one slot, and a sure first-rounder pending an injury or blow-up, having cited the pitcher’s “premium stuff and impressive physicality.” Closer to home, Tom Myers, the area’s scouting supervisor for the Chicago Cubs and a former assistant and associate coach at UCSB, said during a recent Tate outing that the pitcher is everything as advertised.

“He’s got a very special arm, plus a four-pitch repertoire, and he’s a very athletic right-hander – and there’s not a lot of them in this year’s draft,” said Myers, who lives on the Mesa. “He’s been showing a lot of control and command – the ability to throw strikes with all his pitches against quality competition, coming up with big pitches in big counts. He has a lot of tools. It’s major-league stuff.”

Andrew Checketts, the UCSB baseball coach who recruited Tate to the seaside campus three years ago, has also been mightily impressed.

“He’s definitely got a big league arm,” said Checketts, who coached current Red Sox pitcher Joe Kelly at UC Riverside several years ago. “We thought from Day One when he came in here that he would throw very hard. The stuff that’s developed for him is the ability to throw off-speed pitches for strikes and do all the things that have turned him into a complete pitcher.”

Indeed, the only one who isn’t singing Tate’s praises is the pitcher himself, who keeps his head down and speaks with the soft voice and quiet demeanor of a man going about his work, not a teenager about to potentially earn a multi-million dollar paycheck who is being heaped with praise all over baseball and sports websites.

“I don’t read anything about me on the Internet. That helps a whole lot,” Tate said as he ambled out back onto the field after a game in early April, where before being interrupted by a reporter he was about to help rebuild the landing spot next to the pitching rubber where his cleats has dug out a hole – the kind of duty you can be sure he’ll be relieved of a few months from now after signing a pro contract. “I don’t seek out anything. The only thing I look at is footage of me throwing to learn what I can. What keeps me focused is knowing that I still have a job to do. I just want to go out and win the game with my buddies.”

It’s his intense focus and ability to bear down that has added to Tate’s cachet as a pitcher well beyond most of his peers in maturity, and what the professionals call “makeup.” Even when errors have put his team in a whole and a loss is imminent, Tate just fires another fastball or slings a slider past another batter.

“I just need to keep a clear head and not quit when I’m out there,” he said. “When stuff goes sideways offensively or defensively, it’s my job to stay focused and keep attacking the hitters. I stay away from thinking ‘I have to do this or that.’ You want to think as little as possible when you’re on the mound. Just focus up and fire the ball. ”

Tate does ‘fess up to a pre-game routine that would seem out of character elsewhere: he listens to high-energy rap or hip-hop to amp up the intensity.

“I’m a different person off the mound, so I need that extra little boost before I come out here,” he explained. “So it’s got to be something very aggressive to get in the right mindset.”

Still, Tate is aware that his life will almost certainly change drastically by the end of June, when the team that drafts him offers seven figures to ink him to his first pro contract. Has it sunk in?

“Not to that extent,” he said. “I’m just having a good time coming out here and playing baseball, because that won’t last forever. I just try to hold on to the days I do have and try to make the most of them.”

Photo captions: Gaunchos’ righthander Dillon Tate, 21, stands and delivers (Photo by Tony Mastres/UCSB).