Hot Springs Canyon Trail

Difficulty
This reflects the 10Adventures difficulty rating for each route. We aim to keep ratings consistent across regions.
Moderate
Duration
This reflects the estimated time the majority of users will take on this trail. If you are slower, add time to the top-end figure. If you are fast, then you may complete this route faster than this time range.
2-3h
Distance
This reflects the return distance of this route as measured by the GPS file.
6.0 km
Elevation
This reflects the total elevation gained throughout this route as measured by the GPS file. This includes all ascents and descents, and is higher than what is quoted in most route guides, which simply measure the distance between the starting-point and high-point of the route.
359 m
User Ratings
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Directions to Trailhead

The Hot Springs Canyon Trail is a unique adventure in the Los Padres National Forest that offers a natural spa treatment along the way. Meander through the forested canyon beautiful with lush flora and a river that offers a series of blue-hued hot springs for soaking. Get lost? Simply follow the smell of sulfur.

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Route Description for Hot Springs Canyon Trail

The Hot Springs Canyon Trail is one of our all-time favorite hikes—can you guess why? The idyllic hot pools along the way may have something to do with it. Offering an unrivaled experience, this route attracts dozens of adventurers every day, so expect to share the trail and the hot springs. Parking at the trailhead is extremely limited and often fills before noon. There is an overflow lot on Riven Rock Lane if this is the case. Though well-revered, the route is poorly signposted; refer to the trail GPS for navigation. Lastly, the rocky terrain is known to cause the odd rolled ankle and becomes extremely slippery when wet, so wear a pair of footwear with good support and traction.

Explore the lush woodlands adorned with flora, historic ruins, unique outcrops, and the vivid colored hot springs. The Hot Springs Canyon Trail is an intermediate hike near Montecito that affords anyone a good time. Get a good workout in and treat yourself to a soak in the sulfur pools halfway through. Insider’s hint—the higher the hot springs, the hotter they are! Note this is not the best smelling hike, but if you get lost, simply follow the smell of the sulfur, easy. A trip to Hot Springs Canyon is well worth the detour when in the Santa Barbara area.

Embark on your adventure along Hot Springs Canyon Hike departs from the trailhead off E Mountain Drive. Setting out from here, you will be led northeast through the woodlands of mixed pines, oaks, and chaparral shrubs. Eventually, you will reach an intersection, turn right here, and you will be diverted onto the McMenemy Trail. This route will soon merge onto the Hot Springs Fire Road. This section of the hike boasts some exposure, so be sure to bring along some SPF. Follow this route across the stream and to the Ruins of the Hot Springs Hotel. Explore the grounds, then continue north to the next intersection. At this point, you will want to turn left onto the Cold-Hot Springs Connector Trail.

This segment of the route is difficult to navigate; refer to the trail GPS for assistance. Soon after the junction, you will reach the hot springs hidden amongst the trees in the serrated canyon. Marvel in the beauty of the vibrant blue-hued pools and soak in the hot sulfur waters. After exploring and relishing in the hot springs, dry off and continue your hike. Much of this path is shaded by the lush trees that flank the path. Keep left onto the East Fork Cold Springs Trail at the next trail fork and take another left at the following intersection onto the Ediston Catway. This wide dirt route will ultimately deliver you to the Hot Springs Trail. Veer left following this route back to the Hot Springs Road, where you will retrace your footing back to the trailhead.

Trail Highlights

Montecito Hot Springs

The Montecito Hot Springs is a collection of idyllic pools in a craggy sandstone canyon. Boasting a spa-like treatment in the great outdoors, this area attracts tourists and locals alike. Relax in the sulfurous hot water, which has dozens of incredible healing benefits. Many question the blue hue of the waters, but it’s actually natural, caused by harmless bacteria—so there is no need to worry. Though there are several hot springs near the Santa Barbara area, the Montecito Hot Springs in Hot Spring Canyon is definitely your best option.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long is the Hot Springs Canyon Trail?

The Hot Springs Canyon Trail is a 6.0 km lollipop hike near Montecito, CA.

Where is the trailhead for the Hot Springs Canyon Trail?

Access the Hot Springs Canyon Hike via the trailhead of E Mountain Road.

Insider Hints for Hot Springs Canyon Trail

  • The small parking lot fills up fast, so there is an overflow lot on Riven Rock Lane
  • Be mindful of your footing on the potentially slippery, rocky terrain
  • Don’t forget to pack a towel to dry off!
  • Be mindful of poison oak if venturing off the marked path
  • Download the trail GPS before heading out as the trail lacks proper signposts
  • The earlier you arrive the better—these springs attract dozens of explorers every day

Getting to the Hot Springs Canyon Trail Trailhead

Access the Hot Springs Canyon Hike via the parking lot and trailhead off E Mountain Drive in Montecito.

Route Information

  • Backcountry Campground

    No

  • When to do

    Year-round

  • Pets allowed

    Yes

  • Family friendly

    Yes

  • Route Signage

    Good

  • Crowd Levels

    Extreme

  • Route Type

    Lollipop

Hot Springs Canyon Trail Elevation Graph

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