||Santa Barbara, CA|
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UPDATE: The ruins of Knapp's Castle are not accessible at this time, as the owner is living on the property.
Knapp's Castle is a magical spot. It's easy to get to and kids like it. First you enjoy a short drive along East Camino Cielo. Once at the trailhead, you can see the blue waters of Lake Cachuma. Then it's a ten-minute hike along hard-packed dirt to the ruins (a jogging stroller works). Here you can look around you in all directions and take in the views of layer upon layer of mountain ranges thick with woods and valleys of yellow and green. The sandstone archways of Knapp's mansion frame each scene. It's a photographer's paradise. See the stairs where drummers and dancers gather each full moon. Take a minute to listen to how quiet it is up there. There's a big tree that provides shade if you want to stay a while.
Walking around the ruins of Knapp's Castle makes you curious about its history. The land was bought in 1916 by Montecito resident George Owen Knapp, a wealthy industrialist. It took four years to build the sprawling 100-ft long mansion, which was complete with pipe organ, observatory, dining hall, a long hallway, five bedrooms, and additional buildings such as a studio, cottage, servants' quarters, and superintendent's house. Twenty Italian stonemasons were brought in to build the castle. Water was pumped from several waterfalls on the eastern end of the land.
In 1940 the property was sold to Frances Holden who asked her friend, the famous Opera-singer Lotte Lehmann, to come and live there with her. Only five weeks later it was destroyed by a forest fire.
Knapp's Castle is on private property but the public have been allowed to enter until recently. Now that it is closed to the public, many feel a sense of loss. As one reader of the Santa Barbara Independent so poetically put it: "Rights and legalities aside, something rare and wonderful is being lost. There's something about remote ruins that gives young people feelings of immortality, often followed by fornication, I seem to recall. The Castle (!) was also a great place for partakers of cannabis to wax philosophical, and for drinkers to fling empty containers into the face of The Official God, be it Ozymandius or some slightly less ancient name. Shooters could destroy any bottles that missed the walls... hostility had its temple of devastation. We The People should have bought it when we had the dough!" (www.independent.com).
Another peaceful spot out here in the mountains is the Santa Ynez River. If you're hungry you could have some fries by the fire at Cold Spring Tavern.
Photo GalleryClick on photo to see large version
Exit Highway 101 at Highway 154/State St and follow the signs to Highway 154. Head up the mountain for 7.7 miles. Enjoy the views over Santa Barbara and the ocean. Turn right on East Camino Cielo. Follow it for 3 miles.
Right after a large bend in the road, when you see a steep downward sloped path on your left with a small gate across it, park your car along the road.
It takes about twenty minutes to get from Highway 101 to the Knapps Castle trailhead.
This is an interactive map, you can zoom and move it.
Overall Visitor Rating:
|Alright arlghit alright that's exactly what I needed!|
|Hiked up today and property has been sold|
|What a beautiful day at Knapp's Castle! My first time there and I will return! It was spectacular! I just wish I could find more photos of the original house online.|
|Really dry today- dusty and sandy. Great, smooth sloping trail though. And clean- the hikers in Santa Barbara are very respectful. The castle is a blast- I could stay up there all day just looking at the views.|