Dan and Hannah Hike on the Hot Springs Trail in Montecito, California

The Santa Barbara area is Zen-like in that it has an abundance of hiking trails.  Coming to the area for seven years, today Hannah and I find a new-to-us hike with a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.  Let me explain.

Hot map to HS

Different from most of hikes where Hannah and I are alone together, today Claudia, a regular on the trails in Santa Barbara, joins us.  She is an example of the serendipity that comes to our lives when we just put ourselves out there.

You see, at pickleball in Santa Barbara, Hannah and I met her hubby Bill.  One thing led to another and they came to our house for drinks, dinner, and Mormon Bridge, the Rothermel Family’s favorite card game.  Over dinner, we learned of Claudia’s trail adventures and invited her along on our hike into the mountains above Montecito.

Hot 1 start of trail

Following the lead of our daughter Molly and her hubby Tip who hiked this Hot Springs Trail just last week, we three come to the trailhead and find only one spot of the seven for parking.  Hakuna Matata (no worries).  If you, too, can’t find a parking spot, just around the corner on Riven Rock Road there is parking for 30+ vehicles.

Hot 1B C and H on trail

Claudia with Hannah along the dry creek bed

Hot 1C D and C

Dan with Claudia on the Hot Springs Trail

On an unusually warm late February day going to 80F, we three take to the opening chute of the trail past the mansions of Montecito.  At 830A, the trail is shaded with many places for two of us to walk side by side in conversation.

Hot 1D H and C on trail

Since it’s not a long hike at 2.6 miles round trip, the trails modest 800’ elevation gain makes this a hike one families can do.  In fact, we soon will see a dad with his one-year-old on the trail.  Yes, he is carrying her, but there is a reason why she is along; and that’s at the end of the rainbow.

Hot 1F H and C on trail

Like her husband Bill whom I teamed up with for pickleball just yesterday, Claudia is good company sharing her stories and wondering about our lives.  We have a kindred spirit.

Hot 2 H and C on the trail

Though the McMenemy and Saddlerock Trails veer off our path, our trail is easy to follow as we crisscross the nearly dry creek into the mountains; due to the mini-drought of the winter of 2020, there are small pools here and there.

Hot 2 stream crossing

Arriving at one final creek crossing with the smell of sulfur in the air, we figure the hot spring pools Molly mentioned were just the small pools in the very dry creek bed.  Not so fast my friends!

Turning back toward the trailhead, we soon see said father and his child.  Chatting him up, we learn that he is off for a soak in the hot springs with his daughter.  He lets us know it’s just a little further up the trail.

Hot 3 pool

Hot Springs of Montecito

We would have totally missed the hot springs if the universe hadn’t intervened for our greater good.  Zen Deux!  Finding four iridescent pools of warm water with fascinating white strings of algae(?), we deboot to soak in the healing warm waters of Montecito’s Hot Springs.

Hot 3AA white strings better

White algae strands from the hot springs

Hot 3C H and C in pool

It’s February in California!

Hot 3FF H and D better

Next time we’ll bring Bill, bathing suits, and towels to luxuriate for a good soak in Montecito’s healing waters.

4 thoughts on “Dan and Hannah Hike on the Hot Springs Trail in Montecito, California

  1. Thanks for sharing this beautiful hike. It brings back many happy memories of Gil’s
    and my exploration of the Santa Barbara area.

  2. Mmmmm, you found lots of zen. People zen, hike zen and S B zen. When we went to the “Family Camp” at UCSB, I thought – who could study at a school like this? I would major in surfboarding. Such charm. Oprah and Ronald Reagan picked a great spot. One time we stayed in a casita at the SB Biltmore, breakfast delivered by a guy on a bicycle with a bell. Memories of beach time with the kids while we lived in Long Beach are priceless. I’m so glad you fly from the opposite coast to enjoy the western charms.

    I know it’s a little sedentary for you all. . .but think about a whale watch boat trip when the kiddos come. . .

    Send me an update on Hannah Banana when you can. She sounded fresh and fearless in her text! Cheers from very sunny AZ . . .tonite my golf friend, and Sue Lange will join us in the yard for Nello’s pizza. No touching, bring own drinks, sit apart. And have laughs. AZ has officially opened yesterday. d


    • Glad you are getting to socialize, especially for us getting on in age folks. Thanks. We are off to Hannah’s post-op appointment this Monday morning, five days off her surgery. She’s doing great and looks like a million bucks, which, truth be told, she always does. Thanks for checking in. Tell us more. What does Arizona officially opened up mean? Restaurants? Gyms? Schools?

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