Tangerine Falls Trail

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California, United States, North America
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Tangerine Falls Trail
Created On: Mar 23, 2010
Last Edited On: Sep 28, 2010

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Mini Waterfall along the trail

Not to be mistaken with Tangerine Falls Summit Trail, Tangerine Falls Trail is a different trail leading to the base of Tangerine Falls. Although both of these trails begin from the same trailhead, after about half a mile they separate, never to meet again.

Rock Art along the trailRock Art along the trail?
Tangerine Falls trail is rather steep and difficult, but it has gained a great deal of popularity with the local nature lovers. This trail follows a deep gorge with many rock formations along the way. The trail is washed out in a number of places and you need to grab onto roots or branches of trees to continue. The hike takes you past several waterfalls and swimming holes and you are in the shade of tall trees for most of the hike. At the end of your hike you are treated to a great view of Tangerine Falls. This waterfall, as is the case with all waterfalls, is at its majesty after a hard rain. There is one more treat at the end of your hike. You are looking straight up the Steep rock formations of Tangerine Falls with a number of climbing route, the subject of a future submission.

Route description:

Swimming Hole along the trailOne of many swimming holes along the trail.

Start your hike at the same trailhead as West Fork Of Cold Springs Canyon Trail and Tangerine Falls Summit Trail. After a quarter of a mile you will see a wooden bench and a rusty old sign marking the point where you need to cross the creek. From here on you won’t be crossing any more major creeks until you arrive at the main gorge where Tangerine Falls is located. About half a mile up the trail you will come to a fork in the trail. Take the right fork that passes by a boulder and a broken pipe. After a short distance you will come to another fork in the trail. The left fork takes you to the summit of Tangerine Falls and follows along a hillside to the west of the main gorge. The right fork passes by an exposed water pipe and takes you into a steep and narrow gorge. The right fork is the one you need to be on. Soon after climbing over the pipe you will cross the creek and the start of the trail into the gorge. This trail is not very long, but it requires being in good shape. There are a number of places where you will be kickstepping into a steep hillside where the trail has been washed out by flood waters. There are also short sections of rocks and boulders to scramble. Due to heavy vegetation, the waterfall is not visible until the last minute, but when you get there, the view is impressive, especially after a hard rain

How to get there

Wild Flower along the trailWild Flower along the trail
How to get to the trailhead:
From the intersection of 101 and Hot Springs Road in Santa Barbara, California, 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.

Note: There are two trailheads. The one on the right bypasses the creek crossings and ends up at the Montecito Overlook. The left trailhead follows the bottom of the canyon along the creek. The left trail is the one you should take for Tangerine Falls.

Tangerine Falls Summit Trail coordinates
elevationDistance from trailhead
Trailhead signTrailhead
N 34.45522--------W 119.65331741 ft0
Trail signRusty old sign
N 34.45900-------- W 119.65414940 ft .25 mile
Take the right fork to the fallsTake the right fork here
N 34.46492--------W119.658521250 ft.5 miles
Unusual Trail directionUnusual trail direction
will give coordinates at a later date1250 ft.65
Mini Waterfall along the trailwatterfall
N 34.4690--------W119.658791650 ftjust over 1.5 miles

Camping and Red Tape

There are no permit requirements to hike the Tangerine Falls Trail.

Looking west from Earth WatchLooking west from Earth Watch


Unfortunately, there are no campgrounds close and convenient to Earth Watch.

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.

El Capitan Beach Camping

Refugio State Beach Camping

Cachuma Lake


Tangerine Falls Trail

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