Santa Barbara > Activity Guide > Santa Barbara Hikes > Camino Cielo to Montecito Peak


Camino Cielo to Montecito Peak

Hiking Distance: 2.18 miles round trip
Elevation Loss: 247 feet

Trail Notes & Photos

Trail Head: Here is a photo of the parking area next to E. Camino Cielo Road, water tower and trail marker.
View of Cold Spring Trail sign
View looking south from the top of the water tower
View looking north towards Santa Ynez Valley on the other side of the mountain
View of trail, downtown Santa Barbara and harbor
View of canyon and mountain range
View of Montecito Peak
Trail exit point. You need to exit the trail to the left here. If you don't exit, the trail takes you all the way to the Cold Spring Trail Head at the bottom of the mountain. There is no sign directing you to Montecito Peak so you need to keep a look out for the exit point. You go up a steep, slippery grade (about 50 feet) to get to the saddle behind Montecito Peak. To this point you have hiked 0.96 miles with an elevation loss of 441 ft.
You have reached the saddle ridge behind Montecito Peak. This is a view of the peak ahead and a view looking west from the saddle. From this point the trail gets very steep with lots of gravel. Here is a view of the trail looking up a 45 degree slope. This is the hardest part of the hike, but if you take your time and take careful steps you will make it to the top in a few short minutes. Just before you reach the top the trail wraps around the left side of the peak. You make the final steps to the top from the opposite (ocean) side.
View of trail and Camino Cielo. This photo shows the entire trail you have just hiked.
You've reached the top of Montecito Peak. Enjoy the 360 degree view! To this point you have hiked 1.09 miles with an elevation loss of 247 ft.
View of Santa Barbara Harbor
View of Carpinteria
View of Channel Islands and oil derricks
View of the flat top of Montecito Peak, looking north west and south east
View of the the 1927 geologic survey reference pole and marker
View of metal message box and contents where people leave pens, notepads and write about their hike
View looking north, south, east and west
View looking north at the trail head on Camino Cielo

Directions to Trail Head

Near downtown Santa Barbara exit the 101 freeway at Mission Street and turn towards the city (which is also towards the mountains). Stay in the right hand lane as you drive on Mission Street to avoid being blocked by cars making a left turn. Drive 0.97 miles across town until Mission Street ends at Laguna Street and turn left on Laguna Street. Drive 0.11 miles up Laguna Street until you see Mission Santa Barbara and turn right on Los Olivos Street. Drive 0.66 miles up Los Olivos Street (you will quickly encounter a Y intersection - stay left) until you reach Foothill Road. Turn right at Foothill Road. Drive 0.80 miles until you reach an intersection where you see a large white building with no windows at which point Foothill Road becomes Mission Ridge Road. You need to turn left here on to Mountain Drive. Drive 0.25 miles until you reach Gibraltar Road. Gibralter Road is a long winding road that takes you to the top of the mountain. You will drive 6.26 miles up Gibralter Road (about 20 minutes) until you reach E. Camino Cielo Road where you turn right. There is no actual sign that says "E. Camino Cielo Road" but it is the only road intersection once your first reach the top of the mountain. E. Camino Cielo Road is instead marked by a large battered brown sign that lists the miles to various destinations in both directions. After turning right on E. Camino Cielo Road drive 3.51 miles (about 12 minutes) until you see a large cement water tower on the right side of the road that has a dirt parking area in front of it. Park your car here. Look for the trail head sign downhill and to the right of the cement water tower. The driving distance from the 101 freeway to the trail head is 12.5 miles and takes about 45 minutes. The GPS coordinates of the trail head are 34.484179, -119.639071.

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