** 2020 Update: There is visible construction at the site and the gate was closed when we tried to visit in 2020. Friends say it was open on the recent Sunday when they went, but we couldn't get close. Comments on a recent Edhat article indicate the owner is friendly to visitors as long as they don't interfere with construction. **
Knapp's Castle is a short hike and easy for kids. The remains of a large house built in 1916 by George Knapp (founder of Union Carbide) are surrounded by the Los Padres National Forest. It burned down during a forest fire in 1940, so only the chimneys, ovens and a few walls remain. It is privately owned, but currently open to the public. Construction started and was halted in 2011. There was some kind of construction going on when we went 6/2018 as well.
The views are great in any direction. Lake Cachuma, the Santa Ynez Valley and the Los Padres National Forest are all beautiful. Warnings: There is a rope swing there, which may cause you anxiety. This hike feels rather remote. The hardest part of the hike is on the way back, the last section. A car was broken into when we were up there in broad daylight. Keep anything valuable or even that looks like it could be valuable, hidden. You may need a National Forest Adventure Pass to park here.
Directions: Take the 154N from Foothill Rd. Continue 10 miles, then turn right at East Camino Cielo. Drive 3 windy miles to a wider shoulder on the right (one mile past Painted Cave Road). The entrance is to the left at a gate with a dirt road. The gate may be open during the day with construction going on.
Trail Rating: Easy
Distance: 0.8 miles round trip, downhill or fairly level until the very end each way
Time: 20 minutes walking, more for exploring
Nearby attractions: Lake Cachuma is visible from here
More information: Trail and History
|The entrance to the dirt road hike.|
|Knapp's Castle from a Distance|
|Some walls remain.|
|Chimneys remain too.|
|Entrance gate when closed|
|It can be misty up here!|
Most of the hike is fairly level or downhill (until the way back).