Blue Canyon Trail is a 11.5 mile moderately trafficked loop trail located near New Cuyama, California that features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as difficult. The trail is primarily used for hiking, walking, nature trips, and birding and is accessible from March until October. Dogs are also able to use this trail.
Blue Canyon runs the length of Blue Canyon. There are two trailheads accessible by road. The upper trailhead is just before Blue Canyon Pass and just after the only bridge along the road. The dirt road bulges quite a lot to allow plenty of parking here. The second is along the Santa Ynez River just before the road starts climbing away from it. This can be hard to find and has no nearby parking.
If starting at the top, the trail descends gently along the canyon. You will often hear water once Escondido Canyon joins up. Upper Blue Camp, the first camp, is little more than a bulge along the trail, but has a table and fire ring. Blue Camp, the second, is set off the trail and has a bit more space along with the table and fire ring. There is usually a second stream running just up the trail from it. Cottam Camp, the third, is a small area with table and campfire ring next to a large meadow. Water is more reliable the further up the canyon you go, but is seasonal. From Cottam Camp, the trail gets even easier as it drops just a little further all the way to the Santa Ynez River. The total length is about 7 miles.
The route down Cold Spring Trail and Forbush Trail is a popular way into the canyon as it does not involve any dirt road driving. (But dear previous reviewer: That is not the trail.) Romero Canyon is another popular route into the canyon as it is shorter and minimizes dirt road driving. It is particularly popular for those reaching the canyon from the city below.
Summary: Descent into a chaparral covered canyon
This was a last minute choice as our first option was still closed due to fire recovery. Travel north through SB up to East Camino Cielo. The trailhead is at the water tank at Cold Spring Saddle. The views on the drive up the ridge are fantastic especially once you get above the cloud line. The trail descends gradually at first then more precipitously until you reach the junction at Forbush Flats. Bear straight ahead and continue down canyon. The best campground on this trail is easily the Cottom camp. The two others up-canyon from the meadow are not worth the trip in August - both are secluded, but stifling hot and riddled with flies. Cottom on the other hand sits at the edge of a small meadow that would be picturesque, but for the power lines running the length of the canyon. It was August, so everything was bone dry. There are a picnic table and a fire ring, but we couldn't even think about a fire. Kindling all around. Still, the night sky was great, morning was lovely and we got a decent start. But then it was 85 degrees in about 15 mins flat, once the sun crested the ridge. The hike out was long and hot, and we barely had enough water. There was NONE, not a trickle in the whole canyon. The trail has its charms and I think they're better enjoyed some other time than August. All that said, it's a decent hike on a whim.