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Hot Springs Canyon Trail -


Overview
Access
On the Trail
Gallery

Overview

Difficulty: Moderate • Mileage: 2
Elevation Gain: 750 ft. • Location: Front Country, Montecito
Features: Canyons, Creeks, Loop Trip, Historical Point
User Type: Hiking, Equestrian Trail, Mountain Biking, Dog Walking, Trail Running


Highlights

The main trail leads up a small creek and the edges of a number of private mansions, among them one owned by well-known actor Jeff Bridges, into the upper canyon. The adventures begin once you pass these and head up the narrow jeep road into the upper canyon. At the point where it appears the road ends the main trail turns right, crosses Hot Spring Creek and heads up towards the McMenemy and Saddle Rock Trails. Thanks to the transfer of ownership, now one can also head directly up the creek and follow it all the way up to the hot springs.

The Basics

  • Length : .6 to the West Side Trail; .75 to the McMenemy Trail; 1.5 miles to Edison Catway; 1.6 to the Hot Springs
  • Gain : 200’ to the West Side Trail; 750’ to the powerlines
  • Difficulty : Moderate
  • Path : Partly paved and dirt roads and single track trail. Lots of loop possibilities.
  • Season : All year.
  • Restrictions : Multi-use; expect to encounter bikes. The Saddle Rock Trail not appropriate for mtn bikes or equestrians.
  • Canine : Dogs OK on or off leash.
  • Admin : Los Padres National Forest, Santa Barbara District

Things to Look For

  • Points of Interest : Canyons,Creeks,Loop Trip,Historical Point


Find Other Similar Trails

Difficulty: Moderate
Points of Interests: CanyonsCreeksLoop TripHistorical Point
User Types: HikersEquestriansMountain BikersDog WalkerTrail Runners
Locations: Front CountryMontecito
Sub Regions: Hot Springs Canyon

Links & Resources

Gallery

Hike Details



  • Length : .6 to the West Side Trail; .75 to the McMenemy Trail; 1.5 miles to Edison Catway; 1.6 to the Hot Springs
  • Gain : 200’ to the West Side Trail; 750’ to the powerlines
  • Difficulty : Moderate
  • Path : Partly paved and dirt roads and single track trail. Lots of loop possibilities.
  • Season : All year.
  • Restrictions : Multi-use; expect to encounter bikes. The Saddle Rock Trail not appropriate for mtn bikes or equestrians.
  • Canine : Dogs OK on or off leash.
  • Admin : Los Padres National Forest, Santa Barbara District

Access / Getting There

  1. From Santa Barbara take the Hot Springs exit off Highway 101. You need to be in the fast lane to exit onto Hot Springs.
  2. Follow Hot Springs until you reach Old Mill Road/Hot Springs intersection then bear left towards the mountains.
  3. Follow Hot Springs Road uphill past East Valley Road (where you'll see the beautiful Lady of Mt. Carmel Church) to Mountain Drive.
  4. Turn left on Mountain Drive and go .2 miles to the Hot Springs parking area.
  5. There is just enough parking there for 10 cars. You can also park along Riven Rock Road which is nearby.

 

Things to Know

Background

Trip Log

On The Trail

In the three decades since my first day hikes book was published there have been quite a few changes in the Hot Springs area. The trailhead has been shifted, new homes have been built and the hot springs, which are on private property, have been posted with “No Trespassing” signs. Nevertheless, the hike up into Hot Springs Canyon is still as enjoyable as ever, especially so since the upper property that includes the Hot Springs is now part of Los Padres Forest.

The Hot Springs Trail follows the right side of a small creek for several hundred yards until you reach a private lane. Turn left on the lane and follow this for several hundred more yards. There are no signs along this section and at first glance it will appear as if you are walking up someone’s driveway but this is the right direction to go. The lane crosses a small creek before reaching a large gate. A narrow path leads around the right side of the gate and then opens up as it turns back into a dirt roadway.

Follow the dirt road for several hundred yards to the point where the main trail drops down and across Hot Springs Creek. Prior to 2013 you would need to cross and then continue on a dirt jeep road on the east side of the creek up to the turnoff to the McMenemy and Saddle Rock trails. But thanks to the Land Trust for Santa Barbara County's efforts to secure the private holding in the upper canyon and transfer ownership to Los Padres Forest, there are now plenty more options, including access to the historic hot springs.

West Side Trail
Just before crossing the creek on the way to the McMenemy Trail look for a new trail sign and route heading straight up the west side of Hot Springs Creek. You’ll find a well-shaded trail leading under an umbrella of oak and sycamore trees, fairly mellow at the bottom end and a number of steeper sections towards the top. There are a number of spots the water is flowing even now, which is great if you bring your dog and the shade is definitely welcome. Plus it is a great way to reach the springs without following the jeep road up and you can continue east on the powerline road to the top of Saddle Rock for the short loop back down or continue east to the Girard Trail to make a much longer loop.

A half mile of canyon hiking will bring you up to a trail intersection. The left fork leads up to the jeepway east of the hot springs and is best for those who are planning on heading up the jeepway to the Cold Spring Canyon area. The right fork crosses the creek and follows a rough trail up to the jeepway almost directly below the hot springs. To reach them follow the jeepway uphill for several hundred yards to the point where you'll spot the sandstone remnanats of the old Hot Springs Hotel. An off-trail route leads up to the hot springs and from there it is also possible to follow a connector trail that leads uphill to the upper Cold Spring crest route.

East Side Jeepway
If you cross the creek you'll find yourself connecting back into another dirt road, this one leading directly up the east side of Hot Springs Canyon to the upper jeepway. This is the most direct way to get to the Hot Springs if that's your destination. A short distance up the dirt road you'll spot the turnoff to the McMenemy and Saddle Rock trails. After a half mile or so of climbing the dirt road levels out and meanders a bit beofre coming to the upper jeepway. Take the right fork where the road splits by the Land Trust sign to reach the hot springs.

For the return route you can take the main canyon jeep road back down to your car or continue east on the upper jeepway for .4 miles to the top of the Saddle Rock Trail and loop back on it or for an even longer and more extended hike, continue another .5 miles to the top of the Girard Trail and follow it back down to the McMenemy and then west back to your car.

On The Bike

On The Run

On The Walk


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Last Updated: Thursday, March 26, 2015