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.
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.
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.
I climbed above the witch’s brew covering the city below.
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.
There were some beautiful clouds on this day.
The first stone bench.
Here is the second stone bench and its view to the north.
I followed a footpath down further for a view of this boulder field running down the hill.
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.
From McMenemy bench I spotted the Santa Barbara Polo Club grounds to which I recently hiked.
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.
I passed through a eucalyptus grove.
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.
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.
The weather had cleared up a bit by this time.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Great day in Montecito.