I hike a lot. Like many other very active hikers, I find myself falling into the trap of being a creature of habit hiker. In other words… there are over 100 hikes on this website, but a couple of these are trails I hike a few times a month (e.g. Romero). Sometimes I don’t remember that there are actually other wonderful hiking trails in the area as well.
Cue Cold Spring Trail.
Cold Spring is a well-known trail in Santa Barbara. It may be able to take on Tunnel Trail as the most utilized trail in SB. For whatever reason, I’d never hiked it until today…but now I have and I will share my pics.
Wife and I got out to the trail at 2pm today: just in time for the daytime heat. We parked our car at the sub-1000′ elevation trailhead, geared up, and began the stroll up well-traveled switchbacks. There are two different trailheads here that basically make this trail function as a loop. We decided to go up the trailhead on the right, which is steeper.
We noticed that the trail has fork after fork after fork. However, there were a couple things we figured out quickly:
1. Many forks are temporary and the trails meet back up shortly afterward (this allows for overlooks and what-not.
2. In most cases, the most well-established looking trails are the right ones if you are not hoping to hit dead-ends or unexpected adventure. Duh.
3. Following the “trail” signs is a wise decision. Duh #2.
The trail is steepish in parts and gains 650′-700′ per mile over the first couple miles. Remember to pace yourself, stay in your cardio zone, and drink plenty of water (The temps today on the trail were in the upper 80’s with little shade).
After 1 mile, the trail tops out at a fire road. This is towards the end of the Edison Catway, a fire road that is used by the power company. This is the same road that meets up with San Ysidro, Romero, and other local trails. It’d probably be a fun hike to do this road beginning to end…but not today. From here, you follow the road up a short distance, to where the trail begins again. The fire road part was short and almost felt more like a saddle to me.
There were some parts of the trail that were a little covered with prariegrass and even dried poison oak. No big deal…but I did see a tick trying to stick to my hand. With a flick of my finger, he was gone…but keep your eyes peeled for this, whenever you’re on a trail with some brush coverage.
At about 2.3 miles in, Laura seemed to be struggling with her hip flexor. She tried to stretch it but the cramp wasn’t coming out. We agreed to try and make it to 2.5 miles up and then to use that as our turnaround point for the day. No big deal; the goal was just to get out today.
Right at 2.5 miles, we came upon a wonderful and unique spot, marked by two big eucalyptus trees. These trees towered over the chapparal and manzanita. They also sit upon an amazing overlook that presents views from Carpinteria up to Goleta. Way cool spot, me gusta mucho. This is also a nice marker that denotes another 1-1.5 miles to Montecito Peak.
The hike down was also enjoyable and Laura’s hip flexor actually started feeling better. Good thing – because we took a wrong unmarked switchback at one point and dropped 300′ down a splinter trail to the east fork of the creek. There was a little water in there…but not much else we cared about today. We backtracked and reascended the 300′ up to our wrong turn… and then took the real trail back home.
This was a great hike, albeit a hot one. I will probably get back out here again soon when I have more time and will check out the views on Montecito Peak and from the stretch of Camino Cielo that this crosses.
The Nitty Gritty
Time: 3 hours
Distance: (including our wrong turn) 5.77 miles
Calories Burned: 1225
Calories Consumed: 100 (PowerBar electrolyte chews)
Water Consumed: 1L
Albums Played: none (no ipod used)
How to Get There: Take Hot Springs Road away from the ocean to where it crosses East Mountain Road. Turn left on Mountain and take that to the second hiking trailhead you come upon.
Considerations: Be careful not to get lost up in this area. It is easy to have happen. A GPS watch with a breadcrumb feature is invaluable. Also make sure you have a phone in case something unpredicted happens. At the same time, prepare for this hike as best you can so that no SAR episode will have to occur 🙂 No adventure pass is needed to park at this trailhead.