Santa Barbara hikers, watch your step at Romero Canyon: The trail is lined with poison oak and hemlock. I noticed the green shiny triple leafed plant, up and down the trail during a recent Mother’s Day hike. In many cases, the poisonous plant, sometimes scorched red in spots by heat and drought, was growing alongside small patches of hemlock.
And, Romero Canyon isn’t the only area hiking spot where you will run into poison oak or hemlock. You’ll find plenty of this toxic shrubbery along most of the hiking trails in Santa Barbara county, so it’s important to know what it looks like so you can avoid it.
Carpinteria photographer Ken Pfeiffer, an avid hiker, explains how to identify this deadly duo:
“Poison oak is a dense shrub in sunny areas, or a climbing vine in the shade. It has three leaflets with scalloped edges, and can range from shiny green to red when it is heat or drought
stressed as in the fall. The plant contains an oily sap called urushiol which can create a severe allergic reaction, including an itchy rash. This allergic reaction can get worse with repeated exposure. Inhaling the smoke from burning the plant can create a very dangerous or fatal reaction.”
Pfeiffer continues, “Poison hemlock is a highly poisonous plant with lacy green leaves resembling carrot or a fern. Eating the plant, or even touching it
can lead to poisoning. The symptoms include dizziness, trembling, paralysis and death by respiratory failure.”
Make sure you don’t brush up against these poisonous plants while hiking. Getting the plant’s oily resin on your hand and then later touching your body, especially face or eyes, can be very dangerous. You might also want to wash hiking clothes when you get home from the trails to wash away any lingering toxic essence.
Traffic411 Insider’s Tip: There are a lot of mountain cyclists on this narrow trail, keep an eye out for them as you trek up the hill.
Distance from LAX: 92 Miles