Fire and floods have destroyed or made inaccessible many of the trails in our area. Read LPNF Alerts & Notices and SB County Road closure information.
Jump to main content

Santa Barbara Hikes

Devil's Canyon Trail

Devil's Canyon Trail

[out of 5]
 *  *  * 1/2
For:Hilly, somewhat long
Shooting Star flowers
Shooting Stars

This trail has been burned up by the Rey Fire. I don't know when it will be open again.

Devil's Canyon is a beautiful, hidden jewel near to the Gibraltar Dam and Red Rock area. The nicest way to take this hike is to start on Paradise Rd. on the Matias Potrero trail which goes by Matias Potrero Camp, then hike to Devil's Canyon, down to Gibraltar Dam and back along either the road or the river to Red Rock. This hike is a car shuttle when done this way. If you don't want a car shuttle, then when you reach the dam, hike back the way you came.

You will need an Adventure PassPass to park your car in the area.

Devil's Canyon done as a car shuttle (which means two cars - one at the start and one at the finish) is about 7.5 miles.

Algalita Research - Learn about the pelagic plastic problem

Add update

Please add a brief update about trail conditions. All comments are moderated and will not display until approved, which can take days if I'm away on the trail.

(not displayed)


As an addendum, the western section of Matias Trail (from the camp out to Arroyo Burro Road) is quite a bit more overgrown than the Eastern portion, with the tread disappearing in several areas (but it's not really difficult to pick it back up and stay on route). But yeah, lots of ticks at the moment---but then again, lots of wildflowers...
Posted by: Jeff  on  2015-05-24
Hiked the Matias Potrero - Devil's Cyn loop today. The eastern segment of the Matias trail is in relatively good shape. Overgrown in spots, but the tread is always visible. The junction of the Matias and Devil's Cyn trails is marked with a large metal sign which doesn't mention the Devil's Cyn trail. Go left and downhill from this junction. The Devil's Cyn trail descends fairly steeply. The first part is overgrown with tall grasses, but can be followed easily with care. Several downed trees across the path requires going around or over. The last half mile involves 4 stream crossing with lots of poison oak. Long pants and long-sleeved shirts highly recommended. The track is a little hard to see with tall grass, but followable. There is a trail sign where the trail meets Paradise Rd, but the sign doesn't identify the trail. Did this loop without a car shuttle, parking the car at the Matias Potrero trailhead. Utilizing the shortcut trail down to the Red Rock parking lot, total mileage with 8.6 miles. The day was near perfect for this hike. Cool, in the low 70s with a fresh breeze. Oh, a fair number of ticks encountered.
Posted by: GerryC  on  2015-05-20
Just did this loop today. Trail was easy to follow, except for a spot about 1 mile from Paradise Rd., where there are two plastic "trail" signs. There are several trails in different directions from that spot. If you are coming from Gibraltar Dam, take the fork farthest LEFT. A few minutes after you start in that direction, you will see the main metal trail sign saying Santa Ynez River (Paradise Road) is 1 mile away. If you are coming from Paradise Rd., take the trail farthest RIGHT (the one going uphill). The only other spot that might be confusing is about 2-3 miles from here where there is another metal sign at a fork on the trail pointing towards Camino Cielo or Matias Camp. But there is another trail there with no signs. This is the trail that goes to Gibraltar Dam via Devil's Canyon This section is particularly beautiful. Ticks were there, too! The loop took me about 4 hours. I hike at a steady pace and don't usually stop much, for your reference.
Posted by: fondatore  on  2014-01-02
Went out on the trail starting at the top of Camino Cielo (Angostura Pass). Found the trail to be impassable, but likely due to a failure of the topo maps to mark the usable trail. If you are following this trail coming from paradise road then I would not recommend taking the devils canyon trail junction pictured in the map, instead a more open trail junction can be seen from satellite at coordinates given below. The trail following the topo maps is a wreak. We pushed through for the half mile from the Angostura Pass road to the Devils Canyon Trail junction marked on this map and it was uncomfortable but not unbearable. At this point we reached the trail coming from the camp as described on this guide. It was evident that someone had tried a bit of trail maintenance up to this point. The next 0.3 miles was so awful, overgrown and finally so impassable that we turned around. We used a gps and nailed the trail exactly and so I am confident that this trail has been lost as marked. A more careful look at the satellite images shows that a much more cleared trail exists but remains unmarked on the topo maps (national geo and here). Coming from the road at cielo: it begins at a turnoff where the water tunnel crosses Angostura Pass on the map. A designated route sign is next to this turnoff. And instead of the devils canyon trail junction being located near the water line crossing, it appears that a longer, but more open trail junction to the dam can be found at 3430'46.3''N 11941'55.6''W. Neither of these two trails are marked on the topo maps. The topo marked trail meets this route at Devils Canyon creek. I didn't try these trails today, but anything would be more preferable to route marked on the topo maps. -Justin
Posted by: JustinW  on  2012-01-03
Yup, it's pretty. Yup, the creek is delightful. Yup, the place is entirely infested with ticks right now. Black ones, brown ones, rust-colored ones. I hiked the trail with a friend yesterday, and we picked and flicked no fewer than 80 ticks between us. That's a conservative estimate. We couldn't even enjoy the scenery because we were so busy playing defense. We were never so happy to see a fire road when we exited the Devil's Canyon Trail (appropriately named for its resemblance to hell). You may try it when it's not tick season, but I'm not sure I'll ever be comfortable going back. A few spots along the trail are washed out, too, but it's entirely manageable. As for the drive, the river is so low that almost all the crossings are dry.
Posted by: Liz  on  2007-05-15
Post your update here.
Posted by: Diane  on  2005-03-24