Devil's Canyon Trail
The description for the Devil's Canyon Trail will be as a car shuttle. A car shuttle is a hike that starts and ends in different places, requiring a car parked at each end of the hike. Feel free to alter the description if you don't have two cars and drivers available.
Devil's Canyon trail isn't near a regular road. So you have to begin by hiking on Matias Potrero trail first. One car will be parked 9 miles after turning from highway 154 on to Paradise Rd. The parking area has an oak tree in the middle of the road, a place to park on the left, a concrete bridge and a rusty metal gate on the right. Live Oak picnic area is just past, so if you get that far, come back to the tree. This spot is the Matial Potrero trailhead, so let off all the passengers.
The other car will need to park at the end of Paradise Rd. at Red Rock in the parking area. Red Rock is 10.7 mi from 154. You'll need an Adventure Pass to park anywhere on Paradise Rd. Last time I looked, Adventure Passes were being sold at about 4 or 5 different kiosks on Paradise Rd.
The trailhead is at the rusty metal gate where the first car is parked, going uphill on what appears to be a rocky dirt road. Don't worry because the hike gets prettier and prettier. It won't stay like this.
At 1 mile, there is a junction with the actual Matias Potrero Trail. To the right, the trail heads to White Horse Camp, 0.9 miles away. At this junction, shaped like a T, go left.
At 1.15 miles there is a junction with Matias Potrero Camp, a small primitive camp. The camp is straight down the hill, and not really worth the trip to go look. But you might as well take a look. Beware of poison oak. To reach the Devil's Canyon trail, turn right at this junction.
Go uphill, then wind along pretty hills.
At about 3 miles there is a junction with Devil's Canyon trail. There is a wooden sign here, broken and fallen down. Arrows point in all directions. Looking at this sign I'll suggest you don't follow any of it. You'll get lost. If you look ahead at this junction, uphill you can see that the Matias Potrero trail joins Angostura Pass Rd. in the distance 2.22 miles away. Below Angostura Pass Rd the trail connects with Tunnel Trail, which leads back to Santa Barbara. Possibilities exist to plan more hikes, more crazy loops, or backpack trips...
At this broken sign, turn left and go downhill. Now you are on the Devil's Canyon trail.
At 4 miles, cross the stream. There are nice Alder trees here.
You will now criss-cross the stream 5 more times. The first of these crossings asks you to go downstream a bit before joining the trail on the other side. The creek crossings fortunately are easy even in spring.
At 4.25 miles, Devil's Canyon trail ends and you meet up with the dirt road that goes to Gibraltar Reservoir. You can take a short walk to see the Dam by turning right and traveling almost 1/4 mile.
To get back to Red Rock where your second car has been parked, follow the road heading to your left. Or, if it's a hot day and you don't mind getting feet wet, take the trail that goes back to Red Rock along the river bed. The trail can be found by turning right and heading toward the dam, but instead of going uphill to the dam, go down to the river and you'll find the trail immediately crossing the river.
Once you reach the parking area at Red Rock, all you have to do is get your other car and that's that.
This hike is about 7.5 miles.