[out of 5]
|For:||Long, uphill all the way, but trail is smooth and shady.|
This is a beautiful trail. You will get gorgeous views of Cachuma Lake while climbing, and great views of the coast when you reach the summit. Another bonus is that there are two geocaches at the top for you to look for.
This is a challenging hike, with 2000ft elevation gain in 4 miles, one way. Total mileage is approximately 8 miles.
From the Mission, corner of Laguna and Los Olivos Street in Santa Barbara...
Get on US 101 going northbound by taking Laguna St. to Mission St. (toward the ocean).
Turn right on Mission St.
Follow Mission St. to the freeway and take US 101 north.
Take the Lake Cachuma/Highway 154 exit. Follow signs to Highway 154 and turn right on to 154.
Head up the mountains and down the other side.
As you see Cachuma Lake on your right, stay on the lookout for your turnoff, which will be on your left. You are looking for signs that say Camp Whittier, St. Vincent de Pauls Circle V camp and Camp Allegre. There is a very prominent sign for Camp Allegre, which is a Boy Scout camp, that you will see, but don't turn there. You want the next turn off, which also has a Camp Allegre sign, but much smaller. You should probably see the Camp Whittier sign there with it.
Just as you turn left here from 154 you see two ways you can go. Take the left. It should be marked with a Circle V sign (like a branding iron symbol.) You are going to be parking at the Circle V camp, which is the St. Vincent de Paul's camp.
Don't take any of the turns on this horribly pot-holed, dusty road. Just stay on it all the way to the end, where there is a little parking area on the right where you should park, and a gate on the left, where the camp is and also where the trailhead is.
Park in the parking lot. You don't need an Adventure Pass to park your car. The hike begins at the gate. You will be walking through the camp.
Begin the hike to Tequepis at the gate at the St. Vincent de Paul's Circle V Camp.
Walk through the camp, passing the pool along the way. Oh how inviting! Stop and use the restrooms here if you need to.
As long as you walk straight through the camp, you shouldn't go wrong. The road switches from paved to dirt, but basically you just go straight. Not very far along through the camp, you will reach a creek crossing. Cross the creek.
The road goes uphill a ways, becomming quite rutted in some places. In about 1/2 mile you will reach a sign that points to Tequepis trail off to your left. You should follow this sign.
Tequepis trail is a very well-maintained trail, which is sort of surprising since not that many people I've ever met have heard of it. Mountain bikers use this trail a lot because it makes a nice all day ride from the bottom, up to the summit of Tequepis trail, then along West Camino Cielo toward Refugio for a rewarding downhill ride to Refugio State Beach. It's a car shuttle, unless you are the kind of maniac who would ride into Solvang and complete the loop back along 154! But I digress...
There is not much to say about the trail because it is so easy to follow. It is steep and relentless, but do make sure to take the time to turn around and check out the view. Especially when you reach the very, very steep hill made of crumbly shale and water bars. That's when you first notice how pretty the view is, and probably just when you are looking for an excuse to stop and catch your breath.
When you reach the summit there isn't much there except for 360 degree views of the mountains, wilderness back country, Cachuma Lake, North Goleta, the Pacific Ocean, Sands Beach, the Channel Islands, Broadcast Peak (with all the towers) and West Camino Cielo Road. You can find rocks somewhere to sit on for your lunch break.
To return, hike back down the way you came up, a total of around 8 miles round trip.