For many years this beautiful peak did not have a name of its own. Everyone I knew referred to it as Cathedral Peak, and the rock formation to its northwest as Cathedral Rock. It appears that in 2004 the U.S. Board on Geographic Names changed the name of Cathedral Rock to Cathedral Peak and our peak was given a new name, Arlington Peak. In any event, the name of Arlington Peak does not appear in any printed maps, yet.
Even though Arlington Peak is by no means the highest point in the santa Ynez Mountains, it is visible and distinguishable from miles away. Its pyramidal shape, its rocky south face and its steep east ridge make this mountain stand out amongst the background hillsides. After the forest fires of May of 2009, the true majesty of Arlington Peak became obvious. The rocky formations that were covered by sage brush displayed their true size. Someone has commented "This mountain looks like a woman who has taken off her cloths."
Climbing Arlington Peak is not just another hike up a dirt trail. You are following a ridgeline that is open and scenic. You find yourself scrambling on, over and around rocks and boulders. The views from the top are truly breathtaking. Since this mountain sits in front of the main Santa Ynez ridgeline, the summit views are much greater in perspective. You get an uninterrupted views of the California coastline in both direction, southeast and west. The views of Santa Barbara Channel Islands against the blue Pacific Ocean are something to behold. Closer up, you get the best view of Mission Ridge and Tunnel Trail and how exactly it snakes its way all the way up to Camino Cielo Road and La Cumbre Peak.
Looking down from the summit
Arlington Peak from start of the trail
A few hundred feet from the top
How to get to the trailhead
From US Highway 101 in Santa Barbara take the Mission Street off ramp and turn right at the light. Continue on Mission street passing in front of the mission building to a stop sign at the intersection with Foothill Road. Turn right onto Foothill Road and left onto Tunnel Road. You will come to a fork. Take the left fork and drive all the way to the end. You can park on the right hand side of the road within the white lines. Additional parking may be found before the end of the road. Please do not park in the side streets. They are all private roads.
The hike begins the same as the trail for Inspiration Point. After crossing Mission Creek on rocks, you will see another trail to the right of Inspiration Point trail. This trail is steep and parallels Mission Creek for about quarter of a mile then climbs steeply to the west, left. Follow this trail to the foot of the east ridge. Follow the east ridge that climbs over and around countless boulders and rock formations to the rocky summit of Arlington Peak. The true summit is just past a large peace sign painted on a rock with white paint and visible from the top of the false summit.
Looking west from the top of La Cumbre
Unfortunately, there are no campgrounds close and convenient to the city of Santa Barbara.
There is, however, one very large and well developed campground at Cachuma Lake, and a few less developed ones along Paradise Road off Highway 154. There are also a few campgrounds along Highway 101 at El Capitan State Park and Refugio State Park.