Cathedral Peak

Distance: 4.5 miles round-trip


Time:  3-4 hours


Highlights: This is a super-strenuous class three boulder climb to a peak just in front of Cathedral Peak.  The views are amazing, stretching from Oxnard on a very clear day all the way up the coast past Goleta and out into the Channel, past the Islands.  The route is fun and not difficult (i.e. no ropes or gymnastics needed.)  The only caveat is that you may get lost.  If you doubt your abilities to find your way, you may want to rethink taking this hike.




Turn left on this junction.  It is unmarked and unnamed.  At the beginning there are low-hanging branches to duck under.  The trail climbs steeply, increasing in steepness ever so relentlessly.  Stay alert as you climb because there are a few points where it is possible to miss the trail.


At about the 1.5 mile point, you will reach the ridgeline.  The rest of the hike follows this ridgeline to the summit, weaving through sandstone boulders the whole way.  At times the trail is hard to find.  Taking the path of least resistance usually does the trick of keeping you on the trail.  Stay alert, and always be looking for signs of the trail, such as other people's foot prints in the dirt.


Similarities/Differences: The elevation gain is greater than that of Rancho Alegre’s Nine-Hike Hike, but the distance covered is much shorter.  The trail itself is less obvious and more rugged.


Elevation Gain:  2400 feet


Difficulty:  Very strenuous


Trailhead:  From the Mission, at the corner of Laguna and Los Olivos Street in Santa Barbara, head up Los Olivos toward the mountains. The road makes a jag and becomes Mission Canyon Rd.  At the stop sign, turn right on Foothill Rd.  At the stop sign and fire station, turn left onto Mission Canyon Rd.  At the fork in the road, stay left on Tunnel Rd.  Drive to the end of Tunnel Rd. and park your car on the right shoulder.  Be careful to park with your tires completely within the line or you may be towed.  Hike up to the end of the road by the large water tank and metal gate across the road. This is the trailhead.


Directions: From the trailhead, pass through the iron, locked gate and follow the paved Edison Rd.  In approx. 3/4 mile, cross the creek on a wooden bridge. Around the bend the road becomes dirt.  There is a junction here.  To the right the Edison road continues up for a few miles and makes a nice walk or mountain bike ride of its own.  For Cathedral Peak, stay straight on the dirt road at this junction.


Go just a little ways, maybe a few hundred yards further, and off to the right is the sign and junction for Tunnel Trail.  Continue straight, not taking Tunnel Trail, for a few more yards to the junction on the left for Jesusita Trail.  At about the 1 mile mark you will reach the creek. The Jesusita Trail continues straight across the creek, going up to Inspiration Point.  But you are going to Cathedral Peak, which means you turn right up the creek.  (But cross the creek first because it's easier on the other side, and you'll be looking for a small trail off the left side.)  Go only a few feet up the creek, keeping a careful lookout for a trail which will take up to the left and up away from the creek.  Follow this unnamed, unmarked trail.


At first there are a number of side trails back to the creek.  The trail you want climbs steeply for about a mile and a half up the hill and away from the creek.  Eventually the trail will sort of level off.  Look for a side trail to the right going to a look-out rock.  Take a look; you can see Seven Falls below you.  Just past that is a junction to your left.  The junction goes up to Cathedral Peak.  Staying straight will take you up to Three Pools.

The summit, at about 3333ft., isn't really Cathedral Peak, but a lesser peak actually named Arlington Peak.  There is a nook in the summit rock with a book for logging your joyous summit.  The 360 degree views are incredible.  If you would like to visit the true Cathedral Peak, it is the large, jutting rock formation that you see a bit further up the ridgeline.  There is a trail to it which you can follow.


To return to the car, reverse your route and climb back down.  The total mileage is about 4.5 strenuous miles.

- click on map to enlarge -

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