Montecito Hot Springs

Armed with my new map from the Montecito Trails Foundation, I was able to find the hot springs for which the trail is named, as well as the ruins of an old resort.  I also looped around on a few nearby trails.

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The trail begins next to private property.  Things got a bit confusing early on.  I had planned to visit the hot springs and the ruins of the old hotel first, but followed the wrong trail sign and went up the stone stairway to a dirt road by a house (photo 2).  I should have gone straight ahead.  No matter, I did the loop first instead and ended with the hot springs.  Adding to the confusion were dueling signs like the ones shown in photo 3 – one marked “Trail” straight ahead standing in front of a second sign marked “Private Property, Keep Out”.  This particular set of signs marks the beginning of the wooded trail up to the hot springs.  I came down on this trail at the end of my hike.  Again, after climbing the stone stairs I came to a road.  This road also goes up to the hot springs but there are no signs anywhere with the words “hot springs”.  I went to the right instead and began climbing up a steep hill.

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I came to the junction for Saddle Rock Trail.  This is the start of the loop.  As I climbed I passed and/or explored several sandstone formations next to the trail.

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I climbed above the witch’s brew covering the city below.

9     10   The trail got a little steep and rocky before it plateaued a flat area.  I went to the left of the big rock and continued on, soon reaching a fire road.

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Going left at the fire road is another way of getting to the hot springs.  Instead I went right and then took a right on Girard Trail.  While this trail is very close to Saddle Rock Trail it goes down on the other side of the mountain, giving a different perspective.

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17   Sandy Girard Trail

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There were some beautiful clouds on this day.

19   I noticed a short trail with dirt/wood steps breaking to the left.  I followed it down to a couple of stone benches.

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The first stone bench.

22         23         24   I explored around the boulders a bit.

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Here is the second stone bench and its view to the north.

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I followed a footpath down further for a view of this boulder field running down the hill.

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I returned to the main trail and continued down to a junction with McMenemy Trail, which was actually the trail I was on when I first turned off onto Saddle Rock Trail.  There is another stone bench and a kind of stone compass with metal prongs sticking out of the sides to show the different directions.

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From McMenemy bench I spotted the Santa Barbara Polo Club grounds to which I recently hiked.

32     33     35   Instead of completing the loop by heading back in the direction of Saddle Rock Trail, I went in the opposite direction on McMenemy Trail toward San Ysidro Creek.  One of my maps showed a prominent sandstone formation could be found in this direction.  After maneuvering down some steep swtichbacks I was taken into an area with lots of cool shade.

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I passed through a eucalyptus grove.

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Just before I reached San Ysidro Creek I found what I assume to be the sandstone boulders from my map.  The creek is just a few yards away.

38     39     40   Photo 1 – Now climbing back up to McMenemy bench, this view is of the boulder field which sits next to the two upper benches.  Photo 2 – Close-up of a guy sitting in a rock near the first two benches.  Photo 3 – Back at McMenemy bench, I rested, ate lunch and took in the views.

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The weather had cleared up a bit by this time.

42     43     44   Now heading toward the Saddle Rock – McMenemy Trails junction, I passed a large water tank and a boulder that looked like a VW Bus flatbed.

45   I passed the junction with Saddle Rock Trail and descended to the road. I wasn’t positive but correctly guessed it would take me to the hot springs.  The trail to the right in this photo connects to the road after a short distance, I believe.

46     47     48   The road was mostly in the Sun but did have some shady areas as well.

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The road split, I went to the left and met the upper portion of the shady trail I missed in the morning.  As I got closer to the hot springs and the ruins of the resort, the vegetation became more dense and filled with non-native plants.

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54   Water pipes run next to and sometimes over the trail.  I passed a small man-made waterfall and a small bunker-type structure before reaching the resort ruins.

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The ruins, from what I could see, consist of a huge stone wall and a few steps.  I followed the steps up to a flat, barren area where, I assume, the hotel once stood.  There’s really nothing left of it today.

59     60   I then went back down the stairs and hiked the length of the wall in search of the hot springs.

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63   I found one but it was almost dry.  It had the same milky color and stinky smell as the hot springs I visited in Gaviota.

64   I headed down the road and then cut over to the covered trail that leads up to the hot springs.  The shade brought much relief from the heat.  I would recommend taking this trail up and back as it’s far superior to the road.

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Great day in Montecito.

70   Bonus photo – Rainbow Over Malibu. Taken from my backyard after a recent storm.

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