10.2.13 – Cold Spring Trail to Camino Cielo

Wife and I have wanted to make it up Cold Spring Trail to Camino Cielo for a couple months, now, but the weather in the front country of Santa Barbara has been exceptionally hot all Summer – and it’s made it mighty uncomfortable. However, today the weather was near ideal – 70 degrees and ladden with the marine layer. Heat would not be an issue today.

We began our way up the East Branch of Cold Spring (the right trail) and made Montecito Overlook in about 40 minutes. We continued from there up the normal trail to the next major marker, the eucalyptus tree, and reached that in about 1:20:00. Not bad time, but not setting a record either. Nonetheless, a fun hike. FWIW – I’ve taken several pictures of that part of the trail before. Feel free to check that out here.

So.., beyond the eucalyptus tree was new territory for us. It reminded me so much of my former training trail in Pasadena, Echo Mountain; it had some loose rock on it and definitely a fair amount of water erosion. At the same time, it was a really, REALLY fun trail.





We came upon the split for Montecito Peak a little bit before the 4 mile marker (as far as I can tell at least. My Garmin had reception issues on this trip.).  We flirted with the idea of summiting this easy peak but it was so cloudy that the summit would be unimpressive. So…another day. Instead, we went left and continued up towards Camino Cielo.


Past the two Montecito Peak turnoffs, the trail became a bit more overgrown and certainly less traveled. We also noticed a lot more evidence of bear, mountain lions, bobcats, and deer. In this photo, you can see a significant amount of bear scat featuring berries and other plants.

Just past that, there was another pile and what looked like a den. Do bears live in dens? Weird.

Finally we reached the top, Camino Cielo. This road runs atop the entire front country mountain range and connects all of the major Santa Barbara trails. IMG_0766 IMG_0767 IMG_0768 IMG_0769 IMG_0770

At the top, we enjoyed the super thick marine layer that seemed to break up just above us. Laura stretched her cramping leg and I took a brief breather before we began retracing our steps back to the bottom. On the way down, I had to take one pic of a bear print (telling you, so many up here!). I really want to have a pet black bear someday.


The Nitty Gritty

Time: 4 hours

Distance: 9-10 miles round trip (GPS crapped out for part of the hike)

Landmarks along the way: Montecito Overlook (1.5 miles), Eucalyptus Tree (3 miles), peak trail to Montecito Peak (3.9 miles-ish), Camino Cielo (~5 miles)

Ascent: ~3000′


Calories Burned: 1700 

Calories Consumed: 200 from Powerbar electrolyte chews

Water Consumed: 1L (every last drop of what I brought)

Weather: 70 degrees and cloudy

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.


1. There are a lot of loose portions of trail and it’s easy to turn an ankle. Be swift and careful.

2. Some parts of the trail will split but both sides of the fork will meet up. Choose the branch that seems the most used.

3. The trail past Montecito Peak is a bit overgrown. It’s not bad but it’s helpful to know what you’re getting into.

Posted on October 2, 2013, in hiking and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Nice! That’s a great hike in the soup … I have it recorded as 9.2 miles out-and-back. And nice speed-fix on the Gridley directions. 😉

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