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Santa Barbara Hikes

West Fork and Tangerine Falls

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.

West Fork and Tangerine Falls

[out of 5]
 *  *  * 1/2
For:Can be slippery, some climbing
Tangerine Falls
Tangerine Falls

The hike begins at the main Cold Spring Trail 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 to the West Fork of Cold Spring Trail. Cross the creek at the bench and continue up the hill for about 3 more miles, passing a historical, landmark water tunnel along the way to the summit at Gibraltar Rd.

For a variation, there is a small junction you come to well before the summit at Gibraltar Rd. Follow this primitive trail along the creek to a waterfall known as Tangerine Falls. It's quite an adventurous rock-hopping kind of a trail, and at some places, not a trail for the faint of heart.

Also, not far along after you turn off toward Tangerine falls there is another turnoff to the left as you follow the water pipe. This trail will take you steeply to a nice rock outcrop at the top of the falls. You can't see the falls from this outcrop, but you can enjoy the lofty perch just as well. Continuing along this trail, a little exploration on your part and you might discover something interesting at the end of this trail—a structure some of us call the homestead. Or you may find yourself sweating up a steep hill toward the top of the mountains, if that part of the trail still exists.

The total mileage for the basic West Fork to Gibraltar Rd. trail is 3.5 miles round trip. For Tangerine Falls it is closer to 3 miles round trip.

Boulder, CO Leave No Trace Frountcountry program

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... and back again this past weekend, 10/14/2012. Dry, very dry. Barely a trickle along the middle fork, but a few pools and great weather. Trail's in great shape. CTW
Posted by: Cross Tie Walker  on  2012-10-17
Another great trip up to Tangerine Falls this past weekend (Sunday 2/5/2012) with the scouts. The falls themselves are down to a trickle, but there's still plenty of water in the East and Middle Forks. Kids had a blast, and very little trash found. [img:0ef88de2e8][/img:0ef88de2e8] A few photos at [url][/url]. CTW
Posted by: Cross Tie Walker  on  2012-02-08
Went up to Split Hand Falls recently (next canyon over from Tangerine) and what has been a usually secluded and pristine area was littered with frickin' lunchable detritus. Here? Seriously? You couldn't bother to pick any of it up?! [img:a2500e7b5e][/img:a2500e7b5e] Can't wait for the graffiti to start showing up now :evil:
Posted by: Jeff  on  2011-10-28
Went hiking up to the fall on August 19th with my king charles spaniel Daisy. A tough hike for a little dog and had to carry her more then a few times climbing rocks and roots to get to the falls which required innovation with some luck to complete. Though I made the judgement of difficult Daisy didn't seem to notice, I hadn't seen her having more fun or so happy since she was a bright eyed puppy. Everything in sight was stunning and shining with some form of beauty&truth. The mountains were Sunny with cool air so there was a comfortable cool under the canopy of trees but you could warm up nicely in the sun. Saw many dragonflies and butterflies up at the falls but can't remember any other animal sightings except a found a adorable pit bull at the 2nd to last creek crossing who's caretaker I met coming down the trail who had lost her and hoped she found her way up the trail. I put Daisy on a leash and grab the pitbull's (who I soon found out was very strong) and ran up trail to ensure her people found her. When I let her go she bolted up and around a bend. I soon heard the happy calls of her companions. I sat in appreciative joy glad to have helped fellow hikers thinking "How beautifully things work out in simple ways" :) You can really feel and see that on this trail. Encountered many waterfalls along the way to the big one, all literally took my breathe away. The moss dressing them seemed near incredible. Love the rocks, the dirt, and the sense of presence on this trail provided by the life and the awesome force of water which brought it. You can really see how the water shapes the land. Meet a fellow barefoot hiker along the way. The dirt was moist for a better part of the trail and it felt like growing. This hike is currently and will be a very found memory, for the next day I broke my ankle and in the few weeks after Daisy went out for adventure on her own but different from other times she hasn't come back. I haven't been able to return and miss the cold springs trails very deeply. I am enterally grateful for having the possible last joyous memory of my adored first pet there. I would be truly devastated if I could not hold Daisy in my heart and as for the trail, I wish I could be watching it grow but just because I'm not watching doesn't mean it's not still shining with a blinding light,the beauty of persistent truth. Go see it, have fun.
Posted by: stardust  on  2011-09-23
Hiked to the falls Sunday (8/27/11) afternoon with my two kids and a gaggle of cub scouts and extended posse. Hot, muggy, and a lot of folks out on the trail. Still a fair bit of water in the crossings; the falls are down to a trickle but still enough water for everybody to take a dip and cool off. Overall the trail's in good shape; dusty at this time of year. The usual PO, but not encroaching the trail as it seems to in the spring. No lilies seen this trip. :? Note: Lots of broken windshield glass around the Cold Spring parking area these days; a truck had just been broken into when we arrived. You know the drill; don't leave valuables in the vehicles, etc., etc. ... [url=][img:5e0813330e][/img:5e0813330e][/url] [url=]Tolerant[/url] by [url=]umotamba[/url], on Flickr
Posted by: Cross Tie Walker  on  2011-08-29
Hiked the Tangerine Falls trail on Saturday (2-5-11). There were tons of hikers out and trailhead was crowded. The creek was flowing well and as was Tangerine Falls. The trail was mostly dry due to the lack of rain in the past several weeks. Some wildflowers are starting to bloom, and burned areas adjacent to the falls area are covered in lush growth.
Posted by: CentralCoastJoe  on  2011-02-10