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 Santa Barbara > Activity Guide > Santa Barbara Hikes > Cold Spring Trail Loop

 

Cold Spring Trail Loop

Difficulty:
Hiking Distance: 1.8 miles round trip
Elevation Gain: 682 feet

This is the one of the most popular Cold Spring Trail hikes and has some of the best ocean views. There are about 10 forks in the trail. Turn right at every fork except for the short detour to Vista Point.

Trail Notes & Photos

Trail Head, sign and information board. There are two trail heads for Cold Spring Trail. Start at the east side of the creek where the wood sign is rather than the west side where the rusty metal sign is.
West Fork sign next to a bench. Stay right on East Fork. Do not cross creek to West Fork! To this point you have hiked 0.22 miles with an elevation gain 217 ft.
View of trail and canopy of trees
First creek crossing. Can have a lot of water at times, very little water most of the time.
Second creek crossing, view of water & fern. To this point you have hiked 0.70 miles with an elevation gain of 315 ft.
Fork in the trail: About 10 feet past the second creek crossing you hit a fork in the trail. The heavily traveled direction is right. Stay right.
Fork in the trail: About 50 feet past the second creek crossing you encounter another fork in the trail. The trail is heavily traveled in both directions. Go right. It is a common mistake to go left here because it seems like the logical way to go (along the creek, uphill). If you go left here you will hike uphill 0.17 miles until the trail dead ends into boulders. Go right at this fork, NOT left!
Canyon View
Fork in the trail, go right
Fork in the trail, go right
First ocean view
First city view
Oak tree trail detour to Vista Point. This 100 yard temporary detour from the trail takes you to one of the best views in town.
Vista Point: This spot is just off the trail but it is an essential detour that includes a sweeping 270 degree view of the South Coast. It is one of the best coastal viewing spots of all the Santa Barbara trails.
Once you return to the main trail and continue heading down the mountain you will encounter several forks in the trail. Always stay to the right. The heaviest traveled path at each fork will always be to the right so it will be obvious.

Trail end. The Cold Spring Trail Loop ends just a few yards to the right of where it starts.

 

Directions to Trail Head

Just south of Santa Barbara on the 101 freeway exit at Olive Mill Road (exit 94A). Turn north toward the mountains and drive up Olive Mill Road until it becomes Hot Springs Road. Continue up Hot Springs Rd until you reach Mountain Drive. The distance from the freeway to Mountain Drive is 1.9 miles. Turn left on Mountain Drive and drive 1.05 miles to where Cold Spring Creek crosses the road. There are parking areas on both sides of the creek. There are also trail heads on both sides of the creek. Don't start on the west side where the rusty Cold Spring Trail sign is. Start on the east side of the creek (the side you came from) where you will see a wood sign marking the trail head. The GPS coordinates of the trail head are 34.456203, -119.653474.

Regional Map