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Santa Barbara Hikes

Hell's Half Acre/McKinley Peak

Hell's Half Acre/McKinley Peak

[out of 5]
 *  *  *  * 1/2
For:Hilly, sun exposure, very long if you go to the peak.

Hell's Half Acre is an interesting rock formation on McKinley Road about 5.5 miles from the start at Cachuma Saddle on Happy Canyon Road. McKinley Peak is one of the highest peaks in Santa Barbara County, over 6000ft. high (1564 meters).

The trail is really a dirt road, but the road is closed to traffic, unless you have a forest service key to unlock the gate. The road can be steep at times as it winds its way along the crest of the San Rafael range and along the San Rafael Wilderness boundary. There are firs and pines, meadows and rocky outcrops along the way. It is an excellent bicycling route.

Along McKinley road is the junction with the Big Cone Spruce trail which has a nice, shady camp along a creek (after quite a steep drop from the road). The Big Cone Spruce trail eventually meets up with the Manzana trail just beyond the Narrows camp, making this a possible loop or car shuttle back pack trip. The Big Cone Spruce trail does get quite overgrown with poison oak along the bottom portions, however. At the end of McKinley Road is the trail head to Mission Pine Springs and beyond, wonderful backpacking destinations, and the trail head to Santa Cruz Mountain and beyond.

The total round-trip mileage to McKinley Peak is about 20 miles, making this a strenuous hike. However, on the rainiest and most miserable and cold day imagineable a couple of 60+ year old women were observed jogging to McKinley Peak, a weekly ritual, so how hard could it be? (Famous last words, eh? Believe me those ladies are TOUGH.)

The total round trip mileage to Hell's Half Acre is about 12, and it's pretty tough, too.

The GPS waypoint information was donated by Alex Chernikov.

You will need an Adventure Pass to park at the trailhead.

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