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Santa Barbara Hikes

Potrero Trail Description

Portrero Trail to Hurricane Deck

Mile measurements for this hike are approximate.

Begin the hike at the sign marking the trail just across the river. It is best to cross the river just below the road, because the road gets slick with moss.

The trail parallels the river, moving up the side of the hill.

At about 1 and 1/4 miles you reach a small, primitive camp called Potrero camp, or Coldwater Camp. Cross the creek.

There is a trail junction here just after crossing the creek with Portrero Trail and Hurricane Deck to the right. It is marked by a rusty metal sign. Take this trial.

The trail winds uphill through sparse vegetation and chaparral that closes in on the trail here and there to tear at your skin and clothes. You may want to bring some cutters to help keep the trail clear. Do note that if you are following a topo map, the trail marked on the map follows the creekbed, but the actual trail you will be following is the faintly marked higher trail that traverses the hillside. Don't worry about missing turns. If you took the turnoff at the sign you are on the correct trail.

At about the 3 mile mark you come to an interesting rock at 2899 ft. The trail begins to descend a bit from here into a pretty meadow filled with oak trees.

At about 3 and 1/2 miles you reach the unmarked turn off to Neges Cave to the right.

To go to Hurricane Deck, continue following the main trail.

The trail begins to head up again, winding through bunchy grass and overgrown sage and is relatively level.

At about the 4 mile mark is a last chance for some shade if you need to rest.

At 4.25 miles you traverse a slumping meadow with soft dirt your feet sink into. The meadow is often filled with stickered plants called “star thistle” which is a nonnative weed.

At approximately 4.5 miles, reach the junction with Hurricane Deck Trail. The junction is a little confusing and somewhere there is a sign. You need not find the sign to go the correct way. Hurricane Deck trail traverses the prominent ridge here between the San Rafael Mountain Range from whence you came and the Sierra Madre Range north of you. The trail is goes east-west. We will be turning east, or right at this point.

Turn right on Hurricane Deck Trail. The views here are wonderful.

Head steeply uphill on shards of rock that clink like china dishes from baking in the relentless sun. The brush is often overgrown and the trail often is confused with animal trails. Just keep yourself alert and if you hit a dead end, turn back and get back on the main trail.

At about the 5 mile mark or so there are so low bushes that offer a little shade for the weary, and a sheer cliff that is inviting to sit on that makes a nice lunch spot. To the east you can see the highest two peaks on Hurricane Deck at 4190 and 4237 ft. Since this spot offers a tiny bit of shade, we usually end the hike here and have lunch. To the north, the smooth hills are Bald Mountain.

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

Total distance: About 10 or 11 miles.