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Santa Barbara Hikes

Tunnel Trail Description

Tunnel Trail

From the Trailhead...

Pass through the iron, locked gate and follow the paved Edison Rd.

Approximately 3/4 mile cross creek on wooden bridge. Around the bend the road becomes dirt. There is a junction here. To the right the Edison road continues up for a few miles and makes a nice walk or mountain bike ride of its own. Stay straight on the dirt road at this junction.

Go just a little ways, maybe a few hundred yards further, and off to the right is the sign and junction for Tunnel Trail. Take this trail. You may miss this trail or not see the sign. If you end up seeing a trail that heads off the dirt road to the left, you have gone too far (you found the Jesusita Trail). If you end up climbing steeply on the dirt road, you have gone even further still.

At a little more than than the 1 mile mark you reach a junction with a dirt road and some power lines, called the Edison Catwalk. You can return back to the paved Edison Road at this junction by turning right. To continue Tunnel Trail, cross straight ahead to where the trail continues.

At about the 2 mile mark the trail will take a noticeable turn to the right into the shade on the north side of a hill. The side of the trail will be covered in moist ferns and other cool-loving plants. Just at the turn if you look to the right you will see a small, unnamed trail going steeply up the ridge into the brush. This steep trail is an example of one of the many hidden side-trails off of Tunnel Trail.

Continue along Tunnel Trail into the shady part and in about 1/4 mile you will come to another junction with an old, worn sign. This junction is with the Rattlesnake Connector Trail, which connects the Rattlesnake Canyon Trail with Tunnel Trail.

Continue on Tunnel, not taking the Connector. At just under the 3 mile mark there is a large rock formation at a turn in the trail that after a strong rain will have an impressive waterfall but most of the time will not have any water at all. This formation makes a nice view point and destination. To sit on top of the falls, just go straight through the bushes. Be careful at the falls because the rocks are slick near the edge and you could fall to your death.

Tunnel Trail continues past this formation and crosses a creek that is dry most months. The trail becomes increasingly rocky and the vegetation becomes noticeably more scrubby. The trail becomes more exposed to the sun as well.

At the 4 mile mark, after reaching shale and walking through sparse chaparral and yucca, you reach the junction of East Camino Cielo Rd. At this junction is a spot where motorcycle riders like to ride in the dirt. The Forest Service has put large boulders to prevent them from riding here, but sometimes they still do. Be very careful because they ride in the same spot as the trail, which is a little indistinct as you approach the junction with East Camino Cielo Rd.

At the road you can catch a glimpse of the remote back country. The dirt road that continues downhill is Angostura Pass Rd. and can be hiked if you like, but is long and tiresome. It goes down to Gibraltar Reservoir.

If you would like to summit La Cumbre Peak at 3995ft., Turn left onto East Camino Cielo Rd. and follow the road to the turnoff.

The turnoff will be on your left in about a mile and blocked by a gate. Pass through the gate and follow the asphalt to the summit (either fork in the road will take you there) which is marked by an old fire tower, a picnic table, and the fanciest outhouse IÕve ever seen.

To get back to your car, return the way you came.