Cold Spring Trail Exploratory Hike
By Robert Bernstein
Most of the Montecito trails are now open. But the Cold Spring Trail is still officially closed. Four of us Sierra Club hike leaders arranged to scout the trails to see how close they are to being hike ready.
Here are my photos arranged in several galleries.
The first challenge is that Mountain Drive is completely washed out at the stream crossing near the trailhead:
This is not really a problem, as the area is easily accessible from either side of Mountain Drive. And the official parking area is in perfectly good condition.
Instead of heading up the "regular" main Cold Spring Trail we headed up what we call the "Hippie House Trail" because it passes the ruins of an old hippie hangout. Montecito Trails Foundation seems to call it the "Ridge Trail". The trail head is just to the right of the original main trail. But it immediately heads uphill, away from the creek.
We soon got this view down to the washed out area near Mountain Drive:
The Hippie House Trail seemed to be spared from the mud flow damage.
But the fire damage was evident in all directions. This fairly stark view was typical. A bare landscape with a few burned trees. But vegetation is starting to return:
We also got a good view across the canyon of the Tea Garden
These bits are about all that is left of the original Hippie House
Any idea what this strange cotton candy stuff was on the trail?
It turns out this is all that is left of a fiberglass trail sign!
Here are the rest of my Hippie House Trail photos.
As we got to the crest in the fog, we made our way to the top of the main Cold Spring Trail and we immediately began our descent.
As with the Hippie House Trail, the trail was in surprisingly good condition. The landscape was rather barren from the fire. But there was little effect from the mud flow. Here was a view into the canyon in the fog:
Here are the rest of my Cold Spring main trail photos.
There was one stream crossing that was a bit sketchy. You have to wander in the creek bed for a bit to find the trail again.
The main effect of the disaster was seen as we made the final descent on the main Cold Spring Trail. As we came almost in sight of Mountain Drive, the trail totally disappeared. We made our way down the creek bed. Not a problem as there was almost no water in the creek at all.
Just a LOT of boulders!
And an occasional trickle of water
As far as I could see, this Cold Spring Trail loop is pretty much ready for hiking as long as people are willing to deal with some boulder hopping in the creek near the bottom.
Here are the rest of my photos of that lower area where the trail is washed out.
It remains to be seen when the official authorities will allow it to reopen. The Forest Service reopened all of their part of the trails months ago. It is up to the County and the City now. Montecito Trails Foundation is hard at work restoring trails. I recommend donating money to them as I do each year to help with their work.
And at http://www.santabarbarahikes.com/hikes/sierraclub/listing you can see all of the Sierra Club hike listings.