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Santa Barbara Hikes

Cold Spring Trail

This trail is no longer accessible due to recent fires and floods. The trail may be completely gone or it may only be inaccessible due to road closures.

Cold Spring Trail and Montecito Peak

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For:Long, steady uphill, if you do the whole thing
Small Waterfall on Cold Spring Trail
Small Waterfall on Cold Spring Trail

Cold Spring Trail (I've been admonished that there is no "s" in the name) begins gently in shade by a creek that almost always has plenty of water. After a gentle uphill for 1/4 of a mile you reach a bench by the creek where you can sit and clear your mind with the gentle sounds of small waterfalls. This bench is at the junction of the West Fork of Cold Spring Trail. To stay on the main Cold Spring Trail, continue from the bench without crossing the creek. The trail climbs up and out of the shade to an Edison road with power lines. If you are tall enough to see over the bushes you'll get a good view of Montecito. On the way up to this spot, be careful on one of those switchbacks that you don't head straight and get off the trail. You will end up on a loop trail that brings you back to the trailhead. Another place to find this loop trail is from the power lines by turning right (west) and following the Edison road. Either one of these detours will provide you with a nice short work-out hike perfect for after work or early morning, or just when you feel like a shorter hike.

After reaching the power lines the trail continues eastward in chaparral up a very steep, rocky climb all the way to East Camino Cielo Rd. Before reaching the top is a turnoff to Montecito Peak, a very steep, but short climb to a pointy peak in the mountain range. There is a box hidden somewhere at the summit for logging your triumphant summit. At the top of Cold Spring Trail at East Camino Cielo Rd. by the water tower the trail actually continues down the other side of the mountain and deep into the back country. That part of the hike is described under Camino Cielo Hikes as Forbush Flat and Blue Canyon.

9 mile round trip.

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I had an interesting hike today from the Cold Spring trailhead to Camino Cielo. I had not been that far up the trail since the Gibraltar fire in October of 2015. The large knoll due north of Montecito Peak was burned and denuded in that fire. In fact there is a posted trail closure at Camino Cielo and an unmarked rope across the trail just below the burn area. The shrubbery is still dusted red from the fire retardant dropped during fire fight operations. The vegetation has been completely destroyed and one side of the knoll, and the slope is as bare as the moon. The trail is sketchy, loose and narrow here so maintain your focus on footing. Be prepared for landslides to completely remove sections of the trail here, at least until some kind of vegetation takes hold. My path today was a loop hike. I continued west on Camino Cielo to the descending trail back to the middle fork of Cold Spring canyon. That particular trail section is in dire need of erosion control! It is a steep hack down the ridgeline with no attempts to control gullying. No switchbacks, no water bars, nothing. It's going to be ruined before too long if nothing is done.
Posted by: kirkt  on  2016-01-31
wife and i hiked the cold spring trail up to about a mile before montecito peak. we turned around at the weird eucalyptus tree. temps were HOT! maybe 95. we encountered no water. trail was in great condition with a little bit of grass attempting to reach onto the trail. 2 ticks found on my arm during the hike, probably from this grass, but no snakes or other wildlife witnessed. lots of deer and bobcat poop. fun hike outside of the heat. all pics are up here, as well as a gps log and what-not. [url][/url]
Posted by: mattcav  on  2013-08-22
Hiked the East Fork today 12/30 was very fun glad to see so many people out enjoying the beautiful day. Lots of water all the way up to East Camino Cielo, there was even a little Ice/Snow once you got up almost to the top. However I was greatly disturbed at the amount of DogiPot Waste Bags I saw just pitched on the sides of the trails!!! :evil: Especially right at the entrance to the East/West Fork! This is NOT OKAY... The average DogiPot waste bag takes between 6-24 months to degrade in the wilderness, and that is under perfect conditions (getting constant rain, and sun exposure). If your going to use a waste bag especially if you are near the entrance just walk the 4 minutes back down to the trailhead and dispose of it properly!! Otherwise unless your dog does his/her business in the middle of the trail, just LEAVE IT!!! Dog waste will dispose 10X faster than DogiPot Bags!!!! Please people let's respect what little wilderness we have left!
Posted by: ltp14k  on  2012-12-31
The giant eucalyptus tree 2/3 of the way up to Montecito Peak on the East Fork has been covered with yarn for International Yarn Bombing Day (June 9, 2012) and it comes down Sunday, June 17th. It's something you just have to see for yourself.
Posted by: Bijapoo  on  2012-06-14
Hiked to montecito peak with a friend Thur. Rode my DH bike down cold springs today. Trail looks great, lots of friedly hikers. Still plenty of water, and temp was perfect. However there was one male jogger with black dog who couldn't have been a bigger a**. Just a reminder to those who feel bikes don't belong on the trails, we have just as much right to be on the trail as you do. (yes there are some downhill/cross country mt bikers that are rude/unsafe, but I am not one of them.) I have a bell on my bike. I control my speed. I made a complete stop and allowed this hiker to pass me while adding that I was solo. There was no reason for this jerk to tell me (a 31 year old female backerpacker/hiker/mt biker) that I didn't belong on the trail. Please share the trails
Posted by: l1gomes  on  2011-11-20
Attempted to hike to the peak today. The trail conditions are excellent and there's plenty of water flowing out there. However, pay very careful attention after the second creek crossing. Like others have noted, we also made the mistake of going left up a steep trail after the 2nd creek crossing. HUGE MISTAKE. This trail essentially leads to nothing. There's a bit of scrambling over some large boulders and if you keep hiking up and up the terrain gets super slippery and the trail just eventually ends. We were on all fours ducking under branches and climbing. If you want to explore this area, you need a machete for sure. Going back down is quite an adventure. It was impossible to get any traction so we literally resorted to sliding down the hill at times. Lesson learned...go RIGHT after the second creek crossing. At first it looks like the trail heads down hill and loops back to the start, but it doesn't!! After a few steps it starts heading up to the left toward Montecito Peak.
Posted by: LisaZ  on  2011-06-16