The hike to Cathedral Peak is a very strenuous boulder climb, but it's fun and not difficult (i.e. no ropes or gymnastics needed.) The only caveat is that you may get lost. If you doubt your abilities to find your way, you may want to rethink taking this hike.
From the Trailhead...
Pass through the iron, locked gate and follow the paved Edison Rd.
Approx. 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. For Cathedral Peak, 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. Continue straight, not taking Tunnel Trail, for a few more yards to the junction on the left for Jesusita Trail.
At about the 1 mile mark you will reach the creek. The Jesusita Trail continues straight across the creek, going up to Inspiration Pt. But you are going to Cathedral Peak, which means you turn right up the creek. (But cross the creek first because it's easier on the other side, and you'll be looking for a small trail off the left side.)
Go only a few feet up the creek, keeping a careful lookout for a trail which will take up to the left and up away from the creek. Follow this unnamed, unmarked trail.
At first there are a number of side trails back to the creek. The trail you want climbs steeply for about a mile and a half up the hill and away from the creek. Eventually the trail will sort of level off under a canopy of the elfin forest. I love this canopy. Look for a side trail to the right going to a look-out rock. Take a look; you can see 7 Falls below you. Just past that is a junction to your left. The junction goes up to Cathedral Peak. Staying straight will take you up to 3 Pools.
Turn left on this junction. It is unmarked and unnamed. At the beginning are low-hanging branches to duck under.
The trail climbs steeply, increasing in steepness ever so relentlessly. Stay alert as you climb because there are a few points where it is possible to miss the trail.
At about the 1 mile and a half point, you will reach the ridgeline. You will know you are there because you have emerged from the dense underbrush into rocks and sunlight. The rest of the way for this hike follows the ridgeline to the top, bouldering all the way.
At times the trail is hard to find. Taking the path of least resistance usually does the trick of keeping you on the trail. Stay alert, and always be looking for signs of the trail, such as other people's foot prints in the dirt.
The summit, at about 3333ft. Isn't really Cathedral Peak, but a lesser peak actually named Arlington Peak. There is a nook in the summit rock with a book for logging your joyous summit. The views are incredible 360 degrees around. If you would like to visit the true Cathedral Peak, it is the large, jutting rock formation that you see. There is a trail to it which you can follow.
To return to the car, reverse your route and climb back down. The total mileage is about 4 strenuous miles.
Santa Barbara Hikes has introduced many people to our front country trails and wilderness areas. Unfortunately, this may have contributed to an increase in littering and vandalism. Please accept the promise not to trash our wilderness, and tell your friends to do the same.
Diane ~ Santa Barbara Hikes.