Cold Springs Trail to Montecito Peak

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May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. May your mountains rise into and above the clouds.  — Edward Abbey

The Trailhead is located on E Mountain Drive in Santa Barbara. There is a wood sign at the trail.

With canopies of trees and a gradual incline, the trail started out nice and easy. We ran into a couple of solo hikers with their dogs. I could tell they were doing a shorter hike.

Hike to Montecito Peak would be too hot for the dogs at this time of the year. That’s why I made Xena sit out on this one. After a mile or so, we started to gain elevation. After a while, the dirt terrain changed to rocky and the slope got noticeably steeper. Eventually, we caught up with clouds.


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The shade of the rocks changed from light yellow to gold then to orange-ish yellow as we ascend. In this rocky area, this interesting vibrant plant was growing everywhere. Its stem and branches were covered with this burgundy rubbery looking layer and the outgrown branches were ripping the protective layer open. Nature is amazing, isn’t it?

After a while, the rocky terrain changed back to dirt and we hiked above the clouds.

And then, there was the tree. Just one tree.



We continued on. The last quarter mile or so to the peak was one of the hardest trail conditions I had to hike through.  I don’t think I could’ve done it without my trekking poles. The slope was very steep and the loose dirt caused constant sliding. You need to scramble to the top. We had to work hard to not lose our footing and fall. There was a moment I thought I was crazy for wanting to do this on my birthday as I tried not to fall. Then, we reached the top. And the thought disappeared quickly as it came. The view was worth it.

The biggest heart-shaped rock yet!

After a short break, as we were getting ready to go back down, I found a shed snakeskin on a bush!! It’s a long one too. I was sitting close to it all along and didn’t even see it! It was scary and so cool at the same time. Hazel wanted to leave as soon as I spotted it. 🙂

Downhill is more challenging when you keep sliding.

We ran into a small snake on the way down. Nonetheless, all of us including the snake were nervous and alert. After a few minutes of stillness, the little guy began to move across the path. In the end, we all went on with our business and everyone was happy.

Details on this Hike:

  • Hike Date: July 2015
  • Distance: 6.8 miles RT
  • Elevation Gain: 2,243 ft.

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Happy Hiking!

1 comments on “Cold Springs Trail to Montecito Peak”

  1. Lots of interesting things to see on this walk. Was that an Australian eucalyptus tree all by itself there? Are my eyes deceiving me? It looks very similar! Loved all the pics – the heart shaped rocks, misty views etc. Looks like a great walk! 🙂

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