Blue Canyon gets its name from the blue-green serpentine formations found along its 5 mile length. The canyon runs directly along the Santa Ynez Fault. This is a relatively narrow canyon with several overnight camps along it and a stream that flows year round. Beyond Cottam Camp a number of options are available. You can walk to the car camps at P-Bar Flats and Mid-Santa Ynez, continue down the Santa Ynez River to the Mono Trail and Mono Debris Dam, or make your way up to Forbush Flat.
Difficulty: Easy to Moderate
Points of Interests: Out & Back, Backcountry Camp, Loop Trip
User Types: Backpackers, Hikers, Equestrians, Mountain Bikers, Dog Walker, Trail Runners
Locations: Upper Santa Ynez River
Download Directions: Download PDF Map Directions
Camps may not have water in low rain years or the summertime.
If only for a short hike to the first creek crossing, a mile downstream, Blue Canyon is as colorful as its name. The trail wanders along the right side of the canyon, with colorful rock outcroppings along the way. It then drops down into an equally colorful creekbed and meanders along the creek for a half mile to Upper Blue Canyon Camp, providing a place to stay for the night that isn’t too far from your car.
Though it is overgrown in places, the next 2.7 miles to Blue Canyon Camp are equally pretty. The canyon is narrow, the creek small but year round, and overhead alders, oaks and sycamore trees provide ample shading. Cottam Camp is a little more than a mile below Blue Canyon Camp. From there it is another mile further to the Santa Ynez River.
Probably the nicest thing about the Blue Canyon Trail is that it leads out into most of the upper river canyon. Below Cottam Camp you can cross the river and walk either to P-Bar Flats or Mid-Santa Ynez camp. A mile downstream you can reach the bottom of the Cold Springs Trail or cross the river and connect with the Mono Trail, which leads to Mono Camp. It’s also possible to take a connector trail up to Forbush Flats and hike from there up to the crest.