Cachuma Mountain is located in the San Rafael Mountains in Santa Barbara County. It is on the Lower Peaks List and it has a prominence value of P536. Hikers usually overlook Cachuma for higher more distant peaks in the range, like nearby Santa Cruz Peak, San Rafael Mountain, and McKinley Mountain. Those hikes are usually multi excursions, whereas Cachuma is a bit more attainable. It is especially nice to combine it with a trip to nearby Figueroa Mountain and it spring flower displays. From Cachuma's summit grand views of the Santa Ynez Mountains, Santa Ynez Valley, San Rafael Mountains, Sierra Madre Mountains, and the rugged remote Hurricane Deck formation are to be seen. At the end of the page I have included basic information for the other peaks making up the 'Little Four', Ranger, Zaca and Figueroa. Those three peaks are all off of Figueroa Mountain Road which starts in Los Olivios. Any map of the area will detail Figueroa Road and it's side roads.
From Santa Barbara take Highway 154 over San Marcos Pass and pass Lake Cachuma. Turn right onto Armour Ranch Road. After about 1.4 miles turn right onto Happy Canyon Road. Happy Canyon Road is a highly scenic route through ranchlands with large oaks. The road is mostly paved except for a few sections higher up. Drive 15 miles to the Ranger Station at Cachuma Saddle. Park in the large lot on your left.
From the parking lot cross the road and hike up the gated fireroad due east. Hike up this fireroad for 2.25 miles where you round Cachuma Mountain on it's east slope. Take the firebreak from the saddle for .25 miles and 500 feet of gain. The firebreak use to be quite brushy but there was a fire in 2004.
Roundtrip 5 miles, and 1600 feet of gain.
The road to the peak is within Los Padres National Forest so a Adventure Pass would be required for parking. A Adventure Pass can usually be bought at most gas stations and markets near forest roads. The area is patrolled quite often and tickets are issued.
For current conditions and camping in Los Padres National Forest go their homepage.
For more information on the Lower Peaks
List of the Sierra Club.
For flower forecasts check Wildflower Hotline
For information on the Big Three
1. McKinley Mountain 6200'+
2. Santa Cruz Peak 5570'
3. San Rafael Mountain 6593'
1.Ranger Peak 4640ft. P1560 200ft. gain, .5mi. rt
From the high saddle (Figueroa Mountain Road) due north from Ranger hike up a open firebreak to it's Lupine Bush covered summit. The views are outstanding of the Santa Ynez Valley. Ranger Peak is the second most prominent significant peak in the San Rafael Mountains.
2. Figueroa Mountain 4528ft. P728 drive up
Take Figueroa Mountain Road out of Los Olivios all the way to the summit road. Drive to the rest area on the summit near a abandoned lookout tower. The summit has great views of Hurricane Deck and of Zaca Peak.
If you are into astronomy SBAU
from Santa Barbara holds monthly gatherings at Figueroa.
3. Zaca Peak 4341ft. P501 420ft. gain, .4mi. rt
Take Figueroa Mountain Road all the way up to it's junction with Catway Road. Turn left on Catway Fireroad and drive for about 2 miles to another junction with a odd placed pine in the middle of the road. Turn left here and drive all the way to the roads end at the south slope of Zaca Peak, about a mile. Park at this open area and hike up the manzanita and scrub oak covered slope to Zaca's pine topped summit. Walk around the summit for views due to is wooded nature.