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Hike this trail to experience some of the best views above Santa Barbara.

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Point to Point

3,413' 1,040 m


799' 243 m


2,846' 867 m


2,201' 671 m



Avg Grade (6°)


Max Grade (18°)

Dogs Off-leash

Features River/Creek · Swimming · Views

Need to Know

Re-opened after the December 2017 the Thomas Fire Closure. Use caution around loose soils, rolling rocks, and unstable portions of the trails. USFS staff continue to work with local groups and partner organizations to repair damaged sections of trails. Check USFS website for the most up-to-date information.


Starting from the Cold Spring Trailhead off of Mountain Dr., hike for 1/4 of a mile along the trail through forested land to reach the first trail junction. To your left is the West Fork Cold Spring Trail, but you'll want to follow the Cold Spring Trail (a.k.a. East Fork Cold Spring Trail) as it climbs the canyon wall before reconnecting with the creek 1/2 of a mile later. At this point, there is a good swimming hole to your right. The Cold Spring Trail then climbs out of the canyon by switchbacking up to the Montecito Overlook point. From here, you'll have stunning views of the Santa Barbara coast and the nearby islands.

To continue on the Cold Springs Trail, climb for another 1/4 of a mile, and you'll reach a juncture with the Cold Springs - Hot Springs Cutoff. Bear left to stay on the Cold Spring Trail, and it will switchback up the canyon while offering great coastal views along the way. 1.75 miles after passing the last trail junction you'll reach a turn-off for the Montecito Peak Connector. Follow this short path if you want to summit Montecito Peak; otherwise, continue on the Cold Spring Trail for another mile before you come across Camino Cielo, which marks the end of the trail. You can follow the same route back to the Cold Spring Trailhead or link up with other trail in the area to mix up your hike.

Thanks to John McKinney, The Trailmaster, for sharing this trail description. To learn more about trails in California, check out his guides at The Trailmaster Store.

The northern portion of Cold Spring Trail extends past Cold Spring Saddle to Mono Camp near Little Caliente Hot Spring.

Starting from Cold Spring Saddle, the trail drops past a small slide area which gets worked frequently and is usually not a problem. It winds downward into the canyon. There is a bench about 1 mile down. This is near a spring, but it is usually dry. In season (usually May sometime), there are many Humboldt lilies in bloom in this area. Continuing downward, the trail gets up on the ridge above Forbush and Blue Canyons for some views. At 1.8 miles, it comes to Forbush Camp on the west side of the trail. The camp has two main areas, generally reliable spring, and is a very popular location for local backpackers to test out their new gear or just introduce their fellows to backpacking and ultralight backpacking. This was a former homestead and a few of the apple (or are they supposed to be pear?) still grow. When in season, the fruit is... an experience.

From Forbush Camp, the trail passes the signed junction for Forbush Canyon Trail, then climbs upward over a ridge. It drops to find another small creek, eventually coming to travertine pools. These are


Shared By:

John McKinney

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  3.0 from 2 votes
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in California


18 Views Last Month
3,468 Since Jul 27, 2017



View from the trail to the ocean and Santa Barbara
Apr 18, 2022 near Montecito, CA
Travertine pools from above.
Sep 1, 2020 near Montecito, CA
The lowest travertine pool.
Sep 1, 2020 near Montecito, CA
Cold Spring Pool
Apr 18, 2022 near Montecito, CA



Current Trail Conditions

Add Your Check-In


Mar 9, 2020
Shane Bandy
Aug 19, 2019
Shane Bandy
Sep 4, 2018
Valerie Norton
To Montecito Peak: https://valhikes.blogspot.com/2018/09/montecito-peak.html
Oct 16, 2014
Troy Kutch

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