Dan and Hannah Hike the East Fork of the Cold Spring Trail in Montecito, California

Learning just last week (January 2020) that the Cold Spring Trail had officially reopened after the January 2018 debris flows through Montecito that took the lives of 25 people, Hannah and I take The 101 north from Carpinteria.  Winding through Montecito, we come upon the trailhead parking at East Mountain Drive in twenty minutes.

EF Carp to EF

At the trailhead, where once East Mountain Drive crossed the Cold Spring Creek, now a forbidding chain link fence blocks all but foot traffic.  Following the yellow lines dividing the former road to the creek’s edge, we look over to the road forty feet beyond.  There is no evidence of any bridge abutments, let alone the bridge that washed downstream from the amazingly powerful flow of water, mud, car-size boulders, and trees.

CSE 1AAA chain link fence

CSE 1AA road to nowhere

CSE 1 where once there was a bridge

Immediately, we have a choice of two trails thirty feet apart.  A hiker returning from her climb suggests the second trail which will take us along the creek bed to the east.  It turns out to be a fortunate choice as we head into the mountains on the shady side of the East Fork of the Cold Spring Creek.

 

CSE 1B D at trail sign

We choose the East Fork this morning

CSE 1A H at start of trail

As a narrow single track, the trail has overhanging trees providing protection from the penetrating sun.  As the trail’s soft, moistened dirt caresses our feet, the switchbacks take the hurt out of the climb on this 67F morning on the central coast of California.

CSE 2 Falls

We come across a small waterfall, which begs to be videotaped.  Enjoy.

Easily crossing the creek two or three times, we climb further into the mountains in light shirts and shorts.

CSE 1E more of trail

High above the valley, those more adventurous than us can go further up the mountain.  Opting for the trail to the right back down, we have a steeper descent (due its one mile length as opposed to the 1.5 miles we took to climb up) on a trail with full sun that has switchbacks with views to the Pacific.

CSE 3 trail turn down

CSE 3A valley below heading down

Santa Barbara County looking out to the Channel Islands

CSE 3B dusty trail

CSE 3E H above trailhead

Looking down to the trailhead

Though the Thomas Fire of 2018 denuded the landscape and made it ripe for the deadly debris flow, Mother Nature takes a W today with regenerative green carrying the day.

CSE 3F H at switchbacks

After we park in downtown Montecito to pick up the Thursday special, Mojado chicken burritos, at Los Arroyos, I wonder if you can guess which is the car we rented from Enterprise?

CSE 4 Montecito cars

Post script – Click here for Ray Ford’s history of the Thomas Fire and Montecito Debris Flow of January 9, 2018.  Ray Ford pictures from 2018

Cold Spring Ford 1 fire in Montecito

Cold Spring Ford 2 CS canyon

Cold Spring Ford 4 shed in tree

Cold Spring Ford 5 CS trailhead

Cold Spring Creek after the debris flow

 

Cold Spring Ford our trail coming back

East Fork of the Cold Spring Trail after the debris flow