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Santa Barbara Hikes

Cold Spring Trail

Cold Spring Trail and Montecito Peak

[out of 5]
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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.

Boulder, CO Leave No Trace Frountcountry program

Cold Springs Trail and Montecito Peak Updates

Update trail conditions

Posted: January 30, 2016, 9:21 pm
by: kirkt

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: August 22, 2013, 8:39 am
by: mattcav

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.

Posted: December 31, 2012, 9:46 am
by: ltp14k

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 or Very Mad 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: June 13, 2012, 6:11 pm
by: Bijapoo

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: November 20, 2011, 3:09 am
by: l1gomes

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 backpack

Posted: June 15, 2011, 8:43 pm
by: LisaZ

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: May 21, 2011, 9:36 am
by: CamelHat

Planning to do the Cold Spring loop starting at the lower trail I continued on past the bench. After doing the two creek crossings, a bit further I found myself at a fork where the loop continued on to the right. Wanting to get higher up before going down on the loop I turned left. This trail was definitely less traveled and became steep quickly. The soil turned into rocks, sometimes I had to be on all fours to get through the shrubs. It remained quite steep all the way. Eventually this led to the upper East Fork trail towards Montecito Peak that I followed up a few switchbacks until I got to the tree. This must be the same trail that Tina described. It was a good workout, a rough but adventurous alternative for doing Montecito Peak the usual way via the East Fork trail. Not for the unfit. backpack

Posted: April 24, 2011, 2:00 pm
by: KelsieNyshell

This is one of my favorite spots in town right now. The hike isn't to strenuous. Right now the creeks and pools are flowing heavily and running deep. There is a spot to climb down to on a trail and you can stand on a large flat rock and the there is a pool there with a natural made water slide. My boyfriend went down it multiple times. Its not very large or intimidating but its awesome to say you did it. There are several pools that you can dip into most are about thigh to waist deep depending on your height. Beautiful trail with lots of shade and greenery i definitely recommend this one!!!

Posted: March 10, 2011, 2:45 pm
by: ChuckTheRunner

Only had 30 minute lunch break, ran about 1 mile up and 1 mile back from the Cold Spring Rd end. Trail conditions were excellent. Nice warm day with a lot of activity, human and canine. Parking was very challenging. Very Happy

Posted: October 24, 2010, 7:50 pm
by: kirkt

Looks like this hasnít been updated in awhile and I just went up today. I didnít climb the peak, though it looks like someone is taking better care of the spur trail to the peak. It's much clearer at the beginning and even has a small cairn. Instead, I did the east-to-west loop, going up the east fork trail and coming down an unnamed connector. We had some rain this week and the ground was wet but not too muddy anywhere. A nice carpet of fragrant bay leaves plastered the ground in many places. The trail is in excellent condition all the way up. At the top I saw a 3-foot garter snake catching some warmth.

The trail I took down makes the hike about a 10-plus mile loop and reaches Camino Cielo about a mile east of the point where you reach the road. To find it, walk east on Camino Cielo from the Cold Spring trailhead and watch for a ridgline trail coming up out of the canyon. The trail goes down the eastern flank of the ridge that basically separates Cold Spring canyon, staying on the ridgeline for a ways before diving down to the stream. Presently it is rather obscured by some tall grasses, so keep a sharp eye as you round a prominent corner towards the ocean. The upper mile or so has some wonderful spots, but a good portion of this trail is a steep, unengineered hack in need of water bars and switchbacks, or it will become a rain gully like several other front country trails. At one narrow stretch of steep downhill I came across a very large rattler. Two snakes in one day! We had a lengthy session of territorial compromise that ended amicably for both parties, but was rather tense at times.

Tangerine Falls had barely any water in it today, but more rain is on the way. Iím hoping the ground is still holding water from last yearís rains and will saturate sooner this season, letting the falls spill away. steep