Grass Mountain hike, March 25, 2017

After Jorge showed me some spectacular pictures of the hike they did the previous weekend, I asked if he would take me back to it this weekend. The trailhead for this hike starts on private property of Midland School, a small college preparatory boarding school near Los Olivos, CA. It is also close to Michael Jackson’s Neverland Valley Ranch.

The drive to the trailhead goes through some of the most beautiful hill country with its many farm ranches in Santa Barbara County. From the trailhead, you normally get a great view of Grass Mountain, but it was completely covered in clouds this morning. At first, the trail meanders through some pretty woods along a small stream that actually had water! After passing through some gates, the name of the mountain became clear: lots of grass! From here the trail became steeper and steeper. We quickly became surrounded by the clouds the higher we climbed. On the higher slopes, we kept passing by the blooming lupines and many other wildflowers. At around the 3,000 foot elevation, the views opened up, with the clouds now being below us. Here, we could finally see the poppies, which were still mostly closed up, not having had much sun yet. Continuing on, we reached the summit of Grass Mountain, for a well-deserved break. The views from here were amazing, especially with the clouds moving around the hill country.

After some snacks and resting the legs, we decided to hike a little further along the crest, where Jorge and Diana pointed out the route they had taken the previous weekend to Zaca Peak. Returning the same way, we took a little break at the poppy fields hoping they would open up completely. Unfortunately the clouds were too stubborn today to bring enough sunshine in. After a while we hiked down the steep hill, back to the trailhead.

After loading our gear in the car, we drove to the small town of Los Olivos, which was buzzing with tourists, who all came to enjoy the weather and do some serious wine tasting. After Jorge bought himself a Pepsi at the wine and liquor store, Diana and I tried some wines at one of the wine tasting rooms. Even though the owners of this tasting room were closing shop and enjoy retirement, the tasting portions were very small! I really did not like the taste of the Merlot they had us try. The Rockers red and the Riesling were much better.

After a while we got back in the car and took the 101 Freeway to drive home, finishing a beautiful day in the California hills.