Students explore beautiful Santa Barbara trails with hiking course

Students start the day’s hike off with smiles Friday morning, March 4, at San Ysidro trailhead in Montecito, Calif. The beginning of the hike wanders through a lush residential area before turning into a single track trail with hundreds of feet in elevation change.

TANNER WALKER, Channels Staff

Sitting by the edge of a stream in the hills above Montecito, students take a moment to catch their breath and have a drink after a steep hike up to a waterfall.

“Should we do our quiet time?” asks instructor Randy Moharram. “I think we should. Everyone get comfortable, we’re going for a minute and a half of silence.”

The only sounds remaining while the class goes silent are the gentle babbling of the San Ysidro Creek and a chirpy conversation between two birds.

For City College students in search of an adventure, a fun way to exercise or a source of motivation to wake up before noon on a Friday, Physical Education Class 227 is the ideal class. Every Friday morning the class meets briefly on campus to clarify directions and arrange car pools, and after that, it’s off to the trailhead and on to the dirt.

Physical education instructor Randy Moharram leads students up the San Ysidro trail in Montecito, Calif. on Friday morning, March 6. The trail narrows and winds its way up the canyon following San Ysidro creek for the first couple of miles.
J.C. Corliss
Physical education instructor Randy Moharram leads students up the San Ysidro trail in Montecito, Calif. on Friday morning, March 6. The trail narrows and winds its way up the canyon following San Ysidro creek for the first couple of miles.

“You never regret getting out of bed to go hiking,” said student Lauren Hugenroth. “It’s hard to find time to get outdoors between school and work, but if you can do it as part of a class it becomes a lot easier.”

Each week, Moharram, the instructor and Santa Barbara local, picks a new destination for the class.

“If it’s going to be hot, I try to pick a trail in the shade, if it rained recently I’ll try to find one that gets a little more sun,” he explained.

Growing up with a love for the outdoors in Santa Barbara has given Moharram an understanding of the surrounding environment only a local could posses.

“He’s a really cool teacher and he knows a lot about the area,” said student Erich Berkefeld. “He will warn us about poison oak, a steep or slippery part coming up, or to point out something interesting on the side of the trail.”

In addition to their hike to the waterfall about two miles up the San Ysidro Creek Trail, the class has gone to a number of memorable destinations.

Inspiration Point is my favorite hike so far,” said Berkefeld. “The view from the top is amazing and we had just enough time to make it up there.”

Known for its steep ascents and jagged rocks, the trail to leading up to Inspiration Point is not an easy walk. However, students in the class share a love for hiking and exploring the outdoors that motivates them to work beyond the physical difficulties and reach their destination.

“Sometimes when I get up in the morning I wonder if I really want to go,” said Berkefeld. “I always feel better after I hike, though. It’s a great way to start off the day.”

Santa Barbara undoubtedly has one of the most beautiful coastlines on the West Coast. With a good vantage point on campus, City College students have a view of the coast from Leadbetter Point on the north end, all the way to Ventura County on the south end.

The unique class takes students to places out of the ordinary; places high up in the foothills that offer the kind of view one would see on a postcard from Santa Barbara.