Outdoor adventurers will want to head to Ventura County this summer and hike the new Ropersmith Trail to enjoy panoramic views, diverse wildlife, and the rare coastal sage scrub.

The Ropersmith Trail, which opened to hikers in May, is the area’s newest trail and offers 2 miles of smooth singletrack hiking and mountain biking in the Harmon Canyon Preserve — a 2123-acre preserve just east of Santa Barbara

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Ropersmith Trail built by Sage Trail Alliance & Ventura Land Trust
The work going into creating Ropersmith Trail built in collaboration by Sage Trail Alliance & Ventura Land Trust © Ventura Land Trust

Park at the main Harmon Canyon Preserve Trailhead before embarking on a double-track trail called the Harmon Canyon Road. As you hike past sage and oak trees, keep your eyes open for red-tailed hawks, deer and even California quail. The canyon road winds its way up through the hills of the preserve to our favorite part: Goldenberg Overlook. Make sure to bring a snack and spend some time here enjoying the views of the Santa Monica Mountains and the Channel Islands.

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Where to start the Ropersmith Trail

The Ropersmith Trail starts at the junction with Goldenberg Overlook. While it’s not marked on any of the preserve’s online maps yet, they’ve made it easy to find with trail markers. Follow the signs as the trail winds through the preserve’s undulating hills and passing the green and browns of the coastal sage scrub before reconnecting with the Harmon Canyon Road. If you can make it before summer, you’ll also enjoy the vibrant yellow wildflowers that cover the landscape each spring.This won’t be the end to the introduction of new trails at Harmon. Ventura Land Trust – a local non-profit – purchased the preserve in 2020 and has already built 12 miles of new singletrack trails since then. 

“We’re focused on ensuring the Preserve is both open to the public and that we continue to protect it from an ecosystem perspective. It does take a little bit longer to develop new trails and while we don’t have a timeline for the new trails yet, it’s on the horizon” shares Heather Burton, Development Coordinator at the Ventura Land Trust.

Even though the trail has only been open for a few weeks, the reviews so far are overwhelmingly positive. 

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Ropersmith Trail by Sage Trail Alliance & Ventura Land Trust
The lush views you'll find on the newly-minted Ropersmith Trail © Ventura Land Trust

“We’re getting wonderful feedback from our trail users about how much they’re enjoying it” notes Burton “we’re excited for even more people to come out and try it.” 

An easy hour drive from Los Angeles

The preserve is completely free to use and an easy one-hour drive from Los Angeles. After you’ve completed your seven-mile hike, head to town for locally-sourced dishes and craft cocktails at Lark and then indulge in homemade ice cream at McConnell’s Fine Ice Cream where you’ll find creamy and delicious flavors like traditional vanillas and chocolates and regionally-inspired flavors like Eureka Lemon & Marionberries.

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Along with its proximity to Santa Barbara, Harmon Canyon Preserve is a unique local resource to connect with the outdoors. The Ventura Land Trust continues to expand the recreation options while taking the time to assess and plan trails that also enable long-term protection of the land. Enjoy the stunning views, observe the rare sage ecosystem and know that you’re hiking responsibly.

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This article was first published June 2022 and updated June 2022

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