Hike to Knapp's Castle
Los Angeles › Knapps Castle Trailhead
Added by Julie Cash
Length: 0.8 milesPanoramic views of Santa Ynez ValleyOld ruins to exploreClose to wine country
One of the many hidden gems near Santa Barbara, Knapp's Castle is an abandoned home built in 1916 by George Knapp. Finding the trailhead can be difficult because it's not clearly marked and the road it's starts from is long, winding and narrow. Coming from the 154, turn right on East Camino Cielo and drive three miles east to a small pullout on the right hand side of the road. Across from the pull out is a gated dirt road on the left where you'll find the start of the trail.
Once on the trail it is a very short walk to the ruin of Knapp's castle which includes stone walls and stairs, arches, and fireplaces. One portion is set up to look like an amphitheater and is the perfect spot to enjoy a picnic, a bottle of wine or just to sit and watch the sunset.
The upper portion of the ruins contain the best views, with the focal point being the arched windows where you can see the Santa Ynez River Canyon, Lake Cachuma, and the San Rafael Mountains. Don't miss out on the lower portion though, to the left there is a small stairway that will lead down to a beautiful tree which has a rope swing tied to it. It's hard to beat swinging on a rope in the mountains while you watch the sunset.
There is good food and live music to be had relatively close after you return to the 154 at Paradise Store & Grill. If you are into wine tasting, Los Olivos is not too far from here. My favorite vineyard is Koehler off of Foxen Canyon. Dan will set you up with a tasting and chances are you will want to buy a case. Stop buy and grab some wine to take to Knapp's and enjoy the view.
- Closed toe shoes
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Just recently ventured here with a group of friends and we were astounded by how incredible these ruins are and the amazing views of the Santa Ynez mountains. Easy parking and a short walk to an amazing destination. Knapp's Castle ruins are ideal for photographs and climbing and, even though the area is privately owned, it's open to the public. Definitely a hidden gem in Southern California!
I remember going to this little castle when I was younger and I would always stand on the top of the arches and watch the orange glow of the valley slowly calm down into a deep blue. Highly recommend this location for anyone who wants to watch a beautiful scene or to have a nice picnic on the arches.
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