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Blue Canyon Trail

 4.0 (1)

Riparian canyon surrounded by chaparral and the rocks that give it its name.

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Point to Point

2,100' 640 m


1,498' 457 m


109' 33 m


675' 206 m



Avg Grade (2°)


Max Grade (6°)

Dogs Leashed

Features Commonly Backpacked · River/Creek

Romero Camuesa Road is closed whenever heavy rains are predicted until it dries. It may be closed for other reasons too. Check the forest web site or call the ranger station to be sure. The somewhat rough road may not be suitable for some passenger cars.


There is a widening in the road as it passes over Blue Canyon Pass that provides parking for the trail. Drop into the canyon past the information board along the well established trail. Watch for poison oak as it grows abundantly throughout the area.

The canyon is generally dry until passing Escondido Canyon, which fills Blue Creek from a spring. Upper Blue Canyon Camp comes just before the second crossing of the creek. This camp is little more than a widening in the trail, but has a fire ring and sometimes camp furniture to mark it. Just past the second creek crossing is a slide area that can provide a bit of worry on the crossing.

About three miles in, the trail intersects with Romero Canyon Trail, which provides the easiest access to the front country in about 6 miles. (Be aware that the last 1.5 miles down into Blue Canyon is considered one of the steepest trails in the forest.) After another half mile, there is a sign for Blue Canyon Camp just off to the north side of the trail. This is a larger camp that once supported three ice can stoves.

From there, the trail starts to climb a low ridge before dropping down to Cottam Meadow. It can be hard to see the trail in spring, but head for the Cottam Camp at the north end of the meadow under a large oak tree and you should find the sign for Forbush Canyon Trail. Cottam Camp gets the most use of the three campgrounds along this trail.

The trail gets less use below Cottam Camp and there have been rescues of lost hikers from this area. There are usually carsonite signs to mark the continuation to the north and it is easy to follow so long as one gets the right start. It climbs up into the hill, but many hikers have tried following the creek around the hill giving false trails.

It stays high a little bit before crossing to shortcut an elbow bend. It crosses again after the bend, then leaves Blue Creek, crossing a flat and the Santa Ynez River. After crossing the river, it proceeds upstream a little way before climbing the bank suddenly to run into Romero Camuesa Road once more. This trailhead, a short way west of P-Bar Campground, is marked only with a carsonite sign and has no parking.

Both Blue Creek and the Santa Ynez River dry up in the summer time. Since Blue Creek is spring fed, water can be more reliable in the upper camps. Check on Hike Los Padres for water reports at the camps and trail conditions.


Shared By:

Valerie Norton

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Mar 25, 2015
Valerie Norton
Feb 29, 2012
Valerie Norton