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Santa Barbara Hikes

Cathedral Peak

Cathedral Peak

[out of 5]
 *  *  *  *  *
For:Class 3 rock climbing, steep, primitive trail
Rocks near the summit
Rocks near the summit

This is a super strenuous boulder hop. It's been suggested I recommend you not bring a dog. I'll leave it up to you. You should bring 2 liters of water. The trail is exposed to the hot sun. Gloves for the return trip are also a good idea as your hands may become burned and raw from the hot rocks.

You start the trail on a paved access road that the Edison Company uses. After a mile of gentle uphill, the road turns to dirt and you follow it just a little more toward the turnoff to Jesusita Trail. Take Jesusita Trail to the first creek crossing on Mission Creek, then turn right up mission creek and look for a steep trail on the left that continues up to Cathedral Peak.

This is a steep trail that takes you on a class three rock climb to the top of “Cathedral Peak.” The actual Cathedral Peak, at 3333 ft., is a jutting rock formation a bit further, but this trail goes to a peak just in front of it, properly named Arlington Peak, where there is a nook in a rock with a sign-in book to register your joyous summit.

The views are amazing, stretching from Oxnard on a very clear day all the way up the coast past Goleta and out into the Channel, past the Islands.

The hike is about 4 miles round trip with an elevation gain of about 3000 ft.

Boulder, CO Leave No Trace Frountcountry program

Cathedral Peak Updates

Update trail conditions

Posted: May 2, 2014, 2:09 am
by: KidGuy

Well, I hiked Jesusita to La Cumbre Peak on April 30th. It was like 95 degrees and beautiful but just scorching. I'd recommend a good weather check before heading out. I brought 1.5 Liters of water, and really should've brought maybe 3(4.5?) liters. And some protein and/or electrolyte something.

I'd say that the trail is pretty well maintained the whole way though. That's to say, it's not great, but there weren't any manzanitas I had to bushwhack through.
(At least, I shouldn't have had to.. Rolling Eyes)
Heading up Arlington is always a little tricky, but totally fine and in good shape.

Down from Arlington is generally good. Up Cathedral is, OK, but the soil is eroding a little, so watch your step.

I'd say that when the trail color changes from light and sandy to darker brown and more like dirt(coming down from that smaller ridge west of Cathedral Peak into the saddle valley), you're going to have to be careful about sliding down on your bum. Frankly, I adopted that strategy, and it worked out OK.
But hold onto trees, watch out for roots in the trail, and when you get down to the bottom --By God-- it is so beautiful. It's all grown in with clovers and shooting stars. It's really truly fantastic. Vines and some lovely oaks too. There were a couple of fallen trees. just two I think. Didn't pose any trouble.

Anyway. Heading up to La Cumbre isn't bad. The trail is marked from the valley on up. I'd watch out not to sit on ants.
I sat on ants and it was kinda stingy.

Coming back down, is just, kind of like a big gravel boulder slide. and up the valley again, is like almost impossible because the soil is so loose. Down from Cathedral was kinda dangerous because of soil erosion, again. Dragon's back on the return is fine. I'd recommend looping through tunnel maybe. I think that might be better.

But yeah. No sign of a register or anything. I was dying to sign Christopher Walken's name in it.

Well, I wish you all good hikes and safeness and stuff.

Posted: July 28, 2013, 1:17 pm
by: Sean_G

kirkt wrote:
That's why I was especially disappointed, again, to find that someone had removed the register at the top of Cathedral Peak. The last time I was able to find the box off the peak a ways down the north slope, but not this time.

I summited Cathedral on 7/20 and 7/27, and both times there were two ammo cases full of register materials dating back a few years. Not sure if they were removed at the time of your comment, or simply very well concealed.

To find the registers as of 7/27: The traverse trail from Arlington to Cathedral will take you to the rocks on the east side of the summit of Cathedral. You have two options: either climb directly over the summit rocks to the west side of the summit, or drop down to the north side of the peak, where a ledge will lead you to a very short class 3 scramble up to the west side. Either way, once you reach the west side the summit, you will see the register boxes in the shade between two large rocks. steep

Posted: May 28, 2012, 8:18 pm
by: kirkt

I got an early start today and went up the Cathedral Peak trail, all the way to Camino Cielo and then looped back down the Tunnel trail. It was a stunning, beautiful Memorial Day. At Arlington I read a touching note from someone to a dear friend who had perhaps passed on, tucked into a small hole, and that reminded me of the purpose of the holiday. The writer's words were poignant and well chosen. Nature can inspire these attempts to put difficult thoughts into words, and the contemplation of them and whatever associations they may bring.
That's why I was especially disappointed, again, to find that someone had removed the register at the top of Cathedral Peak. The last time I was able to find the box off the peak a ways down the north slope, but not this time.
I don't understand why someone would take the box without leaving a replacement, and I can't say I have anything charitable to say about the person who did it, without knowing why. But it should be replaced. It's a small thing to be able to say "I was here" in some way after reaching the top.

Posted: May 1, 2012, 8:18 pm
by: nick stone

Thanks for sharing your story.I am the guy you ran into on the ridge when you were heading down that morning! That's a good tale, and a cautionary one. I have been wondering about your experience that night. Seems like you did a great job avoiding becoming a statistic, did everything right. And 2 dead flashlights is a good example of how even doing everything right isn't a sure bet!

Anyway, congratulations on a good self rescue!

Posted: April 27, 2012, 10:05 am
by: CamelHat

I started the hike around 6pm and made it to the top before sunset. The after-rain conditions made for a beautiful sunset with scattered clouds blown towards the ocean. The color of the rocks was outstanding.

On the way down I wanted to turn on my flashlight. Batteries dead. Ok spare light then. Batteries dead. The moon was quarter full but had already moved over to the West while I was on the East slope still near the top by the last tunnel.

I tried making it down but the trails have changed and I found myself backtracking a few times until I decided to give up. You don't want to take your chances at Cathedral. I wore jeans, a T shirt, a sweater with hood and a scarf (thanks goodness). I had 2 breakfast bars, water and 2 oranges. Pretty good.

But it got cold and windy. I found a spot in between boulders. Sleeping on the rock is cold. I found a bush of "brem" (in Dutch) that I pushed down and laid down on. It insulated perfectly like a sleeping pad. Still, I never shook that much in my life just to stay warm. Sitting up leaning forward, arms to body, legs together helped. Laying down knees up, arms to body worked too though my legs got numb with the cold. But my core temperature was ok.

It seemed like the longest night in my life. Eventually the sun came up and I could see again. All systems go, amazing how quickly I recovered once I got moving. On the way down I accidentally went down to 7 Falls, took the high road from there back to the main trail. I was back in the care a bit after 7 and felt pretty happy. A lot of suffering but I think it was the right thing to do, better safe than sorry.

Posted: February 7, 2012, 1:04 pm
by: Gerardo95

I did Arlington Peak for the first time today, I don't recommend doing it in the rain or the high winds. but overall it was a good hike.Sadly there is still graffiti in one main area.
I think it is worth a class three climb with the rain but when it is dry i don't see it being that tough and as said before by another hiker more worth a class two rating.
there wasn't much trash but then with the high winds the trash could have just been blown away.
Overall great hike and I cant wait to do it again. steep

Posted: January 5, 2012, 11:37 pm
by: gonzo6869

First off, I just want to say hi to all fellow hikers. I have lived in Santa Barbara for 15yrs, but only recently started to hike the front country. I have done Cathedral Peak twice already, well once to Arlington the second to Cathedral. This is by far the best trail in the "Front" in my opinion. I am in no means in great shape, but found this trail to be somewhat easy. The item I would like to mention is the graffiti. I don't know if it would work, but I want to try to remove it. I am thinking of using a steel brush, I am almost positive this would remove the top layer of the sandstone. If there's a reason why this shouldn't be done please let me know. I hope to make it up there next weekend, if I don't hear any objections I will let you'll know how it goes.[url][/url]

Posted: December 29, 2011, 9:51 am
by: kirkt

I went up with my son for the first time a few days ago. Nothing out of the ordinary for most of the hike. The graffiti nick mentions is impossible to miss, unfortunately. Sigh...
Someone moved the register box on Cathedral Peak. We looked all over the peak and couldn't find it, but then on the way back we were scrambling around the backside of the peak and I looked down the slope a ways and there it was. It was sitting upright on a small level spot. I retrieved it and put it back where it's always been on the peak.
I'm going to put a new book in there on New Year's Day, and get rid of some of the dried out pens.

Posted: July 1, 2011, 11:03 am
by: nick stone

Just a quick note; it is what it is. Life is about letting go of the shit, eh? speaking of which, read below.

For the record, last weekend: BIG pile of dog shit in the middle of the trail (some unlucky hiker had already stepped in it) some arrows (cleaned them off) some cairns (knocked them down) and here is the topper folks (for me, anyway): a CIGARETTE BUTT. (oh yeah, and 2 hikers who thought they were going to 3 pools Smile )

Posted: June 30, 2011, 12:54 pm
by: jbaysurfer

Nick, I echo many of the same sentiments. I don't think the publicizing of the trail is the culprit though..I think it's the clearing of the brush from the fires that have made this trail MUCH much easier to find. Prior to the fire, I would rarely see anyone up there. Since the fire, one day I saw a group of probably TWENTY westmont students up there (they were well behaved ftr, in addition to three other parties, sizes 1 to 4. On monday we saw used TP right on the trail a few hundred feet up, then of course we were greeted with the graffiti up higher. What burns me up more then anything is the idea that the culprits had to carry their spray paint that high up a challenging hike in order to commit their crimes. It's a level of premeditation that goes beyond tagging the wall in a local allyway. Ugh. backpack