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Santa Barbara Hikes

Blue Canyon Trail

This trail may not be accessible due to recent fires and floods. The trail itself may be okay, and its inaccessibility may be due to road closures.

Blue Canyon

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For:Long, uphill on the way back.
Meadow at Cottam Camp
Meadow at Cottam Camp

Blue Canyon is like a secret treasure hardly anyone knows about. That is hardly true, but it is amazing how often you can hike in Blue Canyon and feel completely isolated from civilization, never encountering another person. This of course is not true on holiday weekends because Blue Canyon is a short drive from Santa Barbara and a short hike from the trailhead if you are planning a backpack trip. It makes a great day hike, too.

Blue Canyon is located in the canyon just behind the Santa Ynez mountains. You access it by hiking down to Forbush on the Cold Spring Trail and turning right to descend further into Blue Canyon.

There are meadows that fill with gorgeous wildflowers in spring after the rains, creeks that run fresh and clean, and three places to camp—Cottam Camp, Lower and Upper Blue Canyon Camp beyond. It gets quite hot back there in the summer time, which can be a blessing during the Santa Barbara "June Gloom" when it is cold and foggy in town.

Boulder, CO Leave No Trace Frountcountry program

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Beautiful hike, but HOT (98 deg). Lots of poision oak encroaching on the trails and in camp. There was SOME water at the campsite but not much. We had to search to find a few puddles we could pump from. It wont be there much longer. Started at Cold Springs saddle, down through Four Bush, over to Blue Canyon for the night. Left the next day via Romero. Beautiful hike but very hot.
Posted by: got_root  on  2015-06-29
Wildflowers are about the best I've ever seen back there right now. About a million Mariposa Lilies through the entire canyon, along with just about everything else on this page: The trail is in good condition and there's plenty of water at Blue Canyon camp at the moment, but that, and the flowers, won't last long...
Posted by: Jeff  on  2015-05-25
We recently hiked the loop: started at the Cold Spring Trail trailhead, headed down to Forbush Flat, Cottam, Blue Canyon Camp, up to Camino Cielo, then walked back to the car. The creek was flowing well, especially at Cottam, which had a nice flow of clear water. Watch out for snakes, though! We saw three, two of which we rattlesnakes (a Western Diamondback and a Southern Pacific, if I'm not mistaken). The Western Diamondback was curled up in the middle of the trail and didn't react to us, so we just went around it (we didn't even realize it was a rattlesnake at the time...). The Southern Pacific smelled us and raised its head at us as it slithered away. It was quite an adventure!
Posted by: Sebastian  on  2014-03-16
Pleasant walk starting at Romero TH, down to Blue Cyn Camp, Cottam; up to Forbush; down to Santa Ynez River; up Santa Ynez River bed, Cottam, Blue Cyn to TH at Blue Cyn Pass; up road back to Romero TH. 7 AM to 3 PM. Aside from a few moist spots in the Santa Ynez River and upper Blue Canyon, the only water was in the travertine pools along the lower section of Cold Spring Trail a few minutes above the junction with Gibraltar Trail. Forbush and Cottam are the nicest camp sites on the route.
Posted by: brhacker  on  2013-10-07
(moderator can we have a misc. trail report thread here please?) I knocked over 36 cairns on my hike up Monte Arido trail yesterday. Enough is enough people. I did not have to leave the tread to kick over a single one. What that means is almost every solid rock on a steep and short trail had a smaller pile on top of it, those solid spots are my rest stops. Further, we all appreciate trail maintenance. But lop AND toss, please. Sorry for the rant, it made be directed at the same individual(s). They can bend down to build little booby traps but they can't bend down to pick up their clippings. Thank you all for listening and you may now continue enjoying our wonderful back yard.
Posted by: Surfer Joe  on  2013-04-07
Hiked Blue Canyon Trail from the Forbush Flat trail to the Romero Trail yesterday as part of a loop trip . The trail is in great shape and the trail crews have reciently done a great job of cutting back the vegitation along the trail. In fact, while hiking thru, I thought they cut back far more than was needed but, at least the trail will be clear for several years to come.
Posted by: Boats  on  2013-01-23