Mission Ridge Sierra Club Hike
By Robert Bernstein
[DISCLAIMER: These photos do not represent appropriate distancing under current conditions. This hike was on February 2 before these orders went into effect. If you go out in nature now, please keep at least six feet from other hikers.]
On February 2 I led the Mission Ridge loop Sierra Club hike. Here are all of my photos from this outing.
I only lead this hike once a year, usually close to New Year's Day. For me it is too hot most of the year. It is the most strenuous hike that I lead, though some might consider it fairly tame.
The hardest part of this hike in recent years is finding parking at the trailhead! I lead the hike starting at the top of Tunnel Road. One of the former regulars on my hikes is Barry, though he has not been doing many hikes lately. But he very generously shuttled us to the trailhead so that we could park further down the road. I am hoping that things ease up now that the Cold Spring trail has reopened.
The weather forecast was for fog, but we were lucky it stayed down near the ocean:
In fact, the weather was perfect for hiking, with clear blue skies above. I took this photo early in the hike to show the full span of Mission Ridge. That peak left of center was to be our lunch spot.
We started up the Edison Road fire road, then continued left as if we were going to Inspiration Point. Almost immediately we branched off to the right onto the Tunnel Trail. It is easy to miss that little trail. Soon after we were ascending on the Tunnel Trail we paused for a group photo:
At this point we were about level with Inspiration Point. Here was the view across the Mission Creek canyon of Inspiration Point and the trail leading up to it. Few people realize this trail is actually the Jesusita Trail. The same trail that continues back down to the Lauro Reservoir trailhead at the end of San Roque Road.
Directly above us we could see the redundantly named La Cumbre Peak with its radio towers:
Between Inspiration Point and La Cumbre Peak is Arlington Peak and Cathedral Peak. Here we had a nice view of both. Arlington Peak is the massive rock formation that is visible from all of Santa Barbara. Cathedral Peak is the little thumb sticking out along the right side of the ridge in this photo:
The rocky climb to the top of Arlington Peak is called the Dragon's Back. I used to lead a hike about ½ way up the Dragon's Back, but with the Tunnel Road parking hassles I stopped doing so.
In February there were not many flowers, but here were some:
This nearby lizard watched our ascent:
This peace sign below Mission Ridge is faded, but people have restored it in the past.
Merlie and I enjoyed our lunch on the summit of Mission Ridge while some others picked shadier and more sheltered spots:
After lunch Merlie led the way behind me as we made our way across Mission Ridge. There is no official trail and it is a bit precarious in places. But mostly it is easy to follow and not too difficult. And the views are spectacular!
This was one of several paragliders that floated by us as we crossed the ridge:
At the other end of Mission Ridge is the top of the Edison service road. The way down is to the right. But if you turn left and go all the way to the end of that service road you will find a hidden labyrinth! Here is a short video of a few of the hikers walking the labyrinth:
All Sierra Club hikes are on indefinite hold for now. But I plan to post more photos from a backlog of recent hikes. By all means get out in nature. Just be careful to keep a safe distance from other humans!