This is one of the more rewarding hikes in terms of vistas I've done. You get amazing sight of the backcountry (Castle Rock and Hurricane Deck), Lake Cachuma and the Santa Ynez Valley. I would suggest doing this hike in the spring and starting no later than just before sunrise.
I would also rate this hike with an intermediate difficulty, but I can appreciate how the distance can make it harder. If you have solid endurance you can handle this hike no problem as the inclines are never that steep and there are plenty of level stretches once you get up on the ridges.
I highly recommend this hike, it was an incredibly enjoyable day with some of the most beautiful views I've seen of the area.
Easy trail. It's really a fire road that climbs to the top of the mountain and meanders through the hills. Kudos for the elevation gain but there wasn't much to the actual hike so I got 3.5 miles in and didn't see much to look forward to so turned around at a lookout.
If you like steep ups and downs, follow the cat trail from Cachuma Saddle east-wards, instead of going on forest road 8N08. The cat trail stays right on top of the ridges, and has ups and downs of around 60% in places. The road meanders around the same area, so you can always get back onto the road if you like. I couldn't have done it without my trusty Trekking poles though, and there are a few spots where you have to push through brush. Great exercise, a lot more fun than walking on the road, and better views at the tops.