Montecito Peak Hike Trail is a 5.8 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Santa Barbara, California that features a waterfall and is rated as moderate. The trail is primarily used for hiking and trail running and is accessible year-round. Dogs are also able to use this trail.
This trail is rocky with lots of loose dirt, but standing on top of Montecito Peak you feel like you accomplished something. It is a physically demanding hike, but this is a hike we would recommend. Its always nice when you can end your hike with leaving a note in a peak journal or taking your picture next to a peak sign. There are three trailheads at this location. The one you want has a wooden sign with Cold Springs Trail and the letters MTF (Montecito Trails Foundation) on it. It is just before the road crosses the creek. From the road, the trail starts climbing immediately. Stay to the right on the beginning of the trail. Continue straight when you come to the West Fork trail on the left. Just past this junction there is a bench on the left. The trail continues a steady climb with two creek crossings. After the second creek crossing stay to the right, there are two other trails to the left, don't go on those. There are numerous switchbacks, take those but be careful because the trail goes straight and there is a switchback to the left. Take the switchback to the left, again stay on the wider part of trail at any junction. At 1.6 miles you will see the Edison access dirt road. Go left and cross under the power lines till you see a single track trail heading up the hill on your left. Once you cross under the power lines, take that trail. This rocky and sometimes steep trail passes the tree with a makeshift bench with great views. From the tree, the trail heads toward Montecito Peak and then passes to the west. When you are almost past the peak at 3.6 miles, look on the right for an unmarked narrow trail. The trail is narrow, steep and in shale, but the climb up to the 3,214 foot summit is well worth it. The summit is at 4 miles. The return route is the way you came. The reason I was so detailed in the instructions is because you can easily take the wrong trail.
Beautiful wildflowers and the creek is rushing now - it was a great way to spend the Spring Equinox 2017! The trail is confusing and not well marked. I'm unclear about the trail description as well. The miles and elevation gains given above don't reflect the same numbers in the summary and the fuller trail description. Is the summit at 3 miles or 4?
Lots of unmarked trail intersections, but as long as you keep going up, they mostly lead to the same place.
Wow, last 200 yards are gnarley climb!!!
Great hike, views are totally with the uphill. The first 1/3rd is along the creek and in the shade which was appreciated in the heat. The signage for the peak is not great but we followed the signs for E Camino Cielo and then just took a right to head up the back to the peak. The last part was a bit loose and steeper but it's not for long, and again the views are worth it.
Hiked it 5-1-16. 3 and 1/2 hour round trip. Very good hike. Excellent views. Heavy traffic though. Trail is well marked.