The goal of National Trails Day, held on the first Saturday of June, is to get people out and exploring their own backyards.


With so much “backyard” to explore in the Valley, local organizers decided this year that one day wasn’t enough and created the first-ever Santa Ynez Valley Trails Week.


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The opening day of Trails Week began with an outdoor extravaganza at Zaca Lake, near Los Olivos. More than 45 people gathered at the lake despite a light drizzle and overcast skies. The attendees then broke off into smaller groups, each focused on a different outdoor activity including hiking, mountain biking, kayaking, swimming, horseback riding and scuba diving.

When groups gather for Trails Day across the country, they often cooperate on a project of some sort. Curt Cragg, the Santa Barbara County Outdoor Foundation’s executive director, said the group had already worked on a big project last month, and he wanted this event to be a celebration of their accomplishments. He said the foundation cleared brush, shored up paths and posted signs on trails near the Zaca Lake in late April to make the area more accessible for hikers. Even with all of the foundation’s hard work, Saturday’s event wasn’t devoid of work.

Scuba divers from Santa Barbara’s Paradise Dive Club scoured the lake bed for trash. Cragg said the divers found everything from a 55-gallon drum to a pair of 1980s-style sunglasses in almost perfect condition.

He said the event was a big success for the foundation. “Everybody was totally excited and wants to come back.” One of those enthusiastic people was Santa Ynez Valley Hotel Association executive director Mary Harris. Her association gave money toward advertising the week of events. She said the outdoor activities around the Valley were a great way to market the area to tourists.

June 4’s event may have been a full one, but it was only the first of several. Wine, beer, bike and food trail days have already come and gone. As of publication, four more trail days remained. Those included sweets, water sports, horse and history days, along with the Santa Ynez Outdoor Festival on Sunday.

The festival will be held at River View Park in Buellton from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. The event will feature information and demonstrations on adventures and eco-friendly living, a climbing wall and a guided botanical garden tour.

For more information about the rest of trails week, visit www.visitthesantaynezvalley.com. For information about hiking on Zaca Lake property, contact Curt Cragg at 260-8233 or email outdoorsfoundation@gmail.com.