Manzana Creek to Manzana Schoolhouse WEST (Lower)

Area Status: Open
Manzana Creek Trail West

Manzana Schoolhouse is an old schoolhouse last used around 1901 when there was a small community living in the area. They once farmed along the Sisquoc River but several years of drought caused them to sell their land to the US Forest Service. The schoolhouse has been abandoned since then and ruins of their old homesteads can be found along the Sisquoc River. Dabney Cabin is an old hunting lodge from near the turn of the century and is a county historical landmark. The Manzana Schoolhouse makes a nice backpacking destination. There is a primitive campground there with picnic tables and a privy.

The Lower Manzana Trailhead is located on Sunset Valley Road, approximately 1.5 miles past Davy Brown Campground. This trailhead is very popular for a number of reasons, primarily because it is a portal to the San Rafael Wilderness. The Lower Manzana Trailhead leads to a historical schoolhouse, last used in 1901. In close proximity to the schoolhouse, one will also find a historical hunting lodge known as the Dabney Cabin. This trail is also very popular for backpackers and horseback riders, as there are many primitive campsites throughout the connecting trails. The parking area is in a wide turnout within 50 feet of the trailhead and accommodates between 12 to 15 vehicles. During heavy rainfalls, the trailhead may be inaccessible.

The Lower Manzana Trail intersects with the Sisquoc Trail and reaches the Sisquoc River near the Schoolhouse.

The trail is strenuous only because it is long and involves many river crossings druing the winter and spring that will get your feet wet. But the trail itself is quite level.

The terrain is remote and wild and the vegetation is sparse, but in the creekbed it is riparian and relatively lush and cool. In spring there are many wildflowers.

It is 14 miles round trip to Dabney Cabin.

It is 17 miles round trip to the schoolhouse.

Check for trail and water conditions

At a Glance

Reservations: Trail use and trail camps are on a first-come, first-served basis. No reservations.
Area Amenities: Toilets, Parking
Permit Info: Wilderness backcountry permits are not issued, To obtain a CA Campfire Permit, go to
Usage: Heavy
Best Season: winter, spring, fall
Busiest Season: spring
Restrictions: For current fire restrictions, please call the Santa Lucia Ranger District at (805) 925-9538, ext. 0 or (805) 623-0328 or check the fire restrictions on the Los Padres website. No fishing allowed in the Davy Brown Creek or tributarities of the Sisquoc River.
Closest Towns: Santa Ynez, Los Olivos, Solvang
Restroom: Vault toilets at Nira Campground
Operated By: Forest Service
Information Center: Contact the Santa Lucia Ranger District at  (805) 925-9538

General Information


Take Hwy 101 to Hwy 154 (San Marcos Pass)  and drive Hwy 154 approximately twenty two miles to Armour Ranch Road (Armour Ranch Rd is 4.6 miles past the entrance to lake Cachuma). Turn right right and continue 1.3 miles to Happy Canyon Road. Turn right there, and drive approximately 14 miles to the Cachuma Saddle road junction. Continue straight through the junction to wind down 5 miles to the trailhead on the left (about 1.5 miles past Davy Brown Campground).  Cross the creek and park at the trailhead on your left.

Recreation Map

Map showing recreational areas. Map Information


Day Hiking



Parking: No pass or fee is needed to park at the Lower Manzana Creek Trailhead
Toilets: Vault toilets are at the Nira Campground

Related Information

Recreation Areas

Recreation Activities


  Latitude : 

  Longitude :