Cold Springs Trail to Montecito Peak

Cold Springs Trail to Montecito Peak

Page Type Page Type: Route
Location Lat/Lon: 34.47129°N / 119.63494°W
Additional Information Route Type: Hiking
Seasons Season: Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter
Additional Information Time Required: Half a day
Additional Information Difficulty: class one
Sign the Climber's Log


Montecito Peak seen from Camino Cielo Rd
Montecito Peak seen from Camino Cielo Ridge

summit register
Summit Register
This is another extremely popular trail located in the Santa Ynez Mountains to the northeast of the city of Santa Barbara, California. On any weekend and holidays dozens of hikers are seen making their way to the top. The pyramidal shape of Montecito Peak is unmistakeable from many miles away. There are two options for the first one and a half miles of the hike. The first, the original, follows, more or less, the east fork of Cold Springs Creek with two creek crossings. Following a heavy rain these creek crossings become difficult, if not dangerous. For these occasions there is a second option that avoids creek crossings all together. Both of these options will be explained in this page.

Getting There

Topo of the route
From the intersection of 101 and Hot Springs Road drive 2.2 miles to it's intersection with East Mountain Drive.
Turn left onto East Mountain Drive and drive 1.1 miles to where it crosses Cold Springs Creek. About two hundred yards before the creek you will see a wide turnout on the right side of the road. Park here and walk up the road to the trailhead.

Route Description

Montecito Overlook
Montecito Overlook
Trail Fork to the summit
Fork on the trail to Montecito Peak
Option one: Start your hike some fifty feet to the east of where the creek crosses the road. There is a trailhead sign, a trashcan and a small plaque giving the distances of the different points of interest from the trailhead. The trail follows the creek for about a mile passing by many swimming holes in the shade of the trees. It crosses the creek twice with second crossing near the largest pools and the steepest rocks. Be careful going down a very steep hillside to the water. The trail continues for about another one half of a mile to some power lines and dirt service road. This is Montecito Overlook and your first view of the ocean.

Option two: After a heavy rain the creek crossings of "option one" become difficult. The trailhead for "option two" is located some fifty yards to the east of the "option One" trailhead. There is no trailhead signs on this one. This trail has no creek crossings and leads to the same power lines, service road and Montecito Overlook.

From Montecito Overlook the trail rises steeply for another one and a quarter of a mile to two Eucalyptus trees visible from at least a mile below. This spot gives you the best view of the coastline of California in either direction. Looking in the opposite direction, Montecito Peak and its pyramidal shape is clearly visible. 

The last stretch of the hike is the shortest, but it includes the steepest part of the trail. From the two-trees spot continue up the trail until it becomes virtually level. Just before the end of the level section, you will see another trail forking steeply to the right. This fork will take you to the summit of Montecito Peak. The summit register is located between two rocks within a clump of boulders a few feet below the actual summit. From here, you will have an uninterrupted view of the coastline in one direction and Camino Cielo Ridge on the other.

Points of InterestCoordinates          elevationdistance from trailhead
Trailhead34.45556 N   119.65189 W662 ft0 miles
Montecito Overlook34.46084 N    119.64561 W1607 ft1.5 miles
Eucalyptus Trees34.46923 N    119.64577 W2410 ft2.75 miles
Trail fork to summit34.47343 N    119.63948 W2815 ft3.25 miles
Summit34.47129 N     119.63949 W3105 ft3.6 miles

Essential Gear

A comfortable pair of hiking shoes, extra clothing, lots of water for summer months, flashlight, first aid kit.

Second creek crossing with low water
Cold Springs Canyon Trail

View of the Pacific Ocean...
Wild Flowers along the trail
Wild Flowers along the trail
Eucalyptus tree before the summit
Eucalyptus Tree lookout
One of the swimming holes
Swimming Hole along the trail



Parents refers to a larger category under which an object falls. For example, theAconcagua mountain page has the 'Aconcagua Group' and the 'Seven Summits' asparents and is a parent itself to many routes, photos, and Trip Reports.