Montecito Hot Springs – Santa Barbara, California

If you’re looking for a scenic, unique and beautiful getaway, then look no further than Montecito Hot Springs in Santa Barbara, California. Located in the Los Padres National Forest, Montecito Hot Springs is a naturally occurring thermal hot spring and a popular destination for soaking, hiking, and exploring. Here’s an overview of the area and my tips for visiting Montecito Hot Springs.

History

Montecito Hot Springs – Santa Barbara, California
Montecito Hot Springs (Hot Springs Canyon) –

Montecito Hot Springs a.k.a “Hot Springs Canyon,” is a natural hot spring located in the Los Padres National Forest, just outside of Santa Barbara, California. The hot springs are located in a remote area of the forest and are accessible via a two-mile hike from the trailhead. The hot spring features a series of hot pools that vary in temperature, from 104°F to a chilly 58°F. The hot springs are also surrounded by a lush canyon and are a popular destination for hikers, soakers, and nature lovers alike.

The Montecito Hot Springs have a long and interesting history. The hot springs were first discovered in the late 1800s by the Chumash Native Americans, who used the hot water for healing and spiritual rituals. In the early 1900s, the hot springs were developed into a resort, but the resort was eventually abandoned due to a lack of visitors. In the mid-1900s, the hot springs were revived as a popular destination for soakers and adventurers. In 2019, the Land Trust for Santa Barbara County acquired the land around the hot springs to protect the area from development.

The Hot Spring Pools

Montecito Hot Springs – Santa Barbara, California
Montecito Hot Springs – Santa Barbara, California

The hot spring pools at Montecito Hot Springs vary in temperature, from a hot 104°F to a chilly 58°F. The hottest pool is located at the top of the canyon and is surrounded by lush vegetation and a cascading waterfall. The cooler pools are located further down the canyon and offer a refreshing dip. All of the pools are open to the public, and visitors are welcome to explore the area and soak in the hot springs.

The springs contain a handful of pools connected by rock walls that cascade into one another. Additionally, it is the pool that can accommodate the most guests all at once. Clothing is not required, and many of the locals swim without wearing any kind of protective gear.

You might pick up on a faint whiff of sulfur in the air, and you’ll see that the water has a beautiful shade of blue to it. Because of the high volume of foot traffic in this location, visiting during the week is likely to provide the best chance of avoiding the presence of more people.

Accommodations

At neither the springs’ location nor anywhere along the path leading to them is camping permitted for more than one night. There are a few different places to stay in the town of Montecito, one of which is the San Ysidro Ranch, a five-star resort that spans across 500 acres and dates back to the late 19th century. This property is located close to the trailhead to Montecito Springs, and it also features a pool and spa to make for a relaxing and enjoyable getaway that focuses on the great outdoors.

Exploring Hot Springs Canyon

In addition to the hot spring pools, visitors can also explore the lush canyon that surrounds the hot springs. The canyon is filled with lush vegetation and a variety of wildlife, including birds, deer, and other animals. There are also several springs and waterfalls located in the canyon, which are a great spot to take a break and soak in the beauty of the canyon.

Hiking the Hot Springs Canyon Trail

Hiking the Hot Springs Canyon Trail
Hiking the Hot Springs Canyon Trail

The Hot Springs Canyon Trail is a popular hiking trail that leads to the hot springs. The trail is two miles long and is suitable for all skill levels. The trail winds through the canyon and offers stunning views of the surrounding landscape. Along the way, you will pass by several waterfalls and a variety of wildlife. The trail is also a great spot for birdwatching, as there are a variety of birds that can be spotted along the trail.

How to get to Montecito Hot Springs

The Montecito Hot Springs are accessible via a two-mile hike from the trailhead. The trailhead is located on Hot Springs Road, which is located off of the main highway. The hike is relatively easy, with a steady incline that is suitable for all skill levels. The hike takes approximately two hours, depending on your pace. Once you reach the hot springs, you will be greeted by a lush canyon and a series of hot pools.

To get to the springs, visitors have to complete a one-way hike that is approximately four miles long and ranges in difficulty from easy to moderate. The beginning of the trail can be found in a small parking lot to the north-northwest of Montecito at the address 1217 East Mountain Drive. Because there are only about seven or eight parking spots available, arriving earlier is strongly encouraged.

The starting point of the trail is located at 1217 E Mountain Dr, Montecito, California 93108.

We strongly suggest that you use this map from coolhotsprings.com as a compass to help you navigate.

Because they are not marked particularly clearly, locating the hot springs can be a bit of a challenge at times. At the trail’s first fork, keep to the left side of the split. At the second fork in the road, keep to the left. At the third fork in the road, keep to the right.

Take the left fork in the trail at the fourth fork after you’ve passed the ruins of the hotel (you’ll see a sign about water conservation when you’ll cross it and start to smell sulphur as you get closer). After passing over a shallow riverbed, you won’t have much further to go before you see the hot springs off to the left of the trail.

At the trailhead, there is on-street parking available; however, it is very limited.

When visitors hike up to the springs, they follow a rural path that winds through picturesque forest landscapes and affords them glimpses of the ocean. It is highly recommended to put on sturdy shoes that can get wet. On the trail that leads to the springs, there isn’t a lot of clear signage; however, hikers who came before you have all suggested taking a left turn whenever it’s possible to ensure you don’t get lost.

Tips for Visiting Montecito Hot Springs

When visiting Montecito Hot Springs, it’s important to be prepared. Here are a few tips to help you make the most of your visit:

  • Make sure to bring plenty of water and snacks, as the hike to the hot springs can be quite strenuous.
  • Dress appropriately for the weather and the terrain.
  • Wear sturdy shoes for the hike, as the trail can be quite rocky in spots.
  • Bring a flashlight or headlamp for the hike, as the canyon can be quite dark at night.
  • Be prepared for the hot springs, as the temperature can vary from pool to pool.
  • Respect the area by taking only photos and leaving only footprints.

Benefits of Hot Springs Soaking

In addition to being a great spot for hiking and exploring, hot springs soaking also provides a variety of health benefits. Soaking in a hot spring can help to reduce stress, improve circulation, and soothe sore muscles. It can also help to improve sleep and boost your immune system. Hot springs soaking can also be a great way to relax and unwind, as the hot water is a great way to de-stress and unwind.

Other Hot Springs in Santa Barbara

In addition to the hot springs and the canyon trail, there are a variety of other attractions located near Montecito Hot Springs. The nearby town of Gaviota is home to the Gaviota Hot Springs, which is another popular destination for soakers and adventurers. There is also the Padre ruin, which is a historic site located near the hot springs. There are also a variety of other trails in the area, including the Cascade Trail and the Hot Springs Road Trail.

If you’re looking for a truly unique and extraordinary experience, head to California and check out the hot springs! From the remote and rugged hot springs of Santa Barbara to the geothermal ponds of Calistoga, there’s something for everyone.

Santa Barbara is especially known for its hot springs, with one of the most popular being the San Miguel Hot Springs. This hot spring is tucked away in the hills of Santa Barbara and has been used for thousands of years by the Chumash people. Here you can relax and enjoy the warm waters and stunning views of the surrounding hills.

Meanwhile, Calistoga is home to a number of geothermal ponds, known as the Calistoga Hot Springs. These ponds are filled with hot mineral water, perfect for soaking and relaxing. There are even private cabins available so you can soak in your own private hot spring. Whether you’re looking for a relaxing escape or an adventurous exploration, California’s hot springs are sure to please. So don’t wait – head to California and experience the wonders of the hot springs!

Best Hot Springs in California

California is home to multiple hot springs that offer a unique and relaxing experience, and many of them are easily accessible. From the rustic charm of the Big Caliente Hot Springs to the modern amenities of the Hot Springs Resort, you’re sure to find the perfect spot for you. We dedicate a big part of coolhotspring.com to write about best hot springs in California but we will also give a short list here for your quick reference.

One of the most popular hot springs in California is the Little Caliente and Big Caliente Hot Springs. Located in the Angeles National Forest, it is a great spot for those who want to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city and enjoy some peace and quiet. It is easily accessible, with street parking leading directly to the springs. The hot springs are surrounded by lush vegetation and the nearby creek provides a soothing backdrop. It is the perfect place to relax and take in the beauty of the surrounding environment.

Another great spot for hot springs in California is the Hot Springs Resort. This resort is located in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains and features both indoor and outdoor hot tubs. The resort also offers a full-service spa, a restaurant, and a bar. It is the perfect destination for those looking for an upscale hot springs experience.

If you’re looking for something a bit more rustic, you can’t go wrong with the 4th Fork in the Trail Hot Springs. This hot springs is located in the Sequoia National Park and is a great spot for those who want to get away from it all. The springs are surrounded by trees and have a serene atmosphere. It is the perfect spot for a peaceful day of soaking.

Finally, if you’re looking for a hot spring experience with a bit more of a social atmosphere, then the Hot Springs Club is the place for you. This club is located in the San Bernardino National Forest and offers a variety of activities, from volleyball to hot tubbing. It is a great spot for groups of friends who want to spend the day soaking and socializing.

Overall, California is full of amazing hot springs that offer a unique and relaxing experience. From the rustic charm of the Big Caliente Hot Springs to the modern amenities of the Hot Springs Resort, you’re sure to find the perfect spot for you. And if you’re looking for something a bit more rustic, then the 4th Fork in the Trail Hot Springs and the Hot Springs Club are definitely worth a visit. No matter where you decide to go, you’ll be sure to have a wonderful time!

Conclusion

Montecito Hot Springs is a beautiful and unique destination located in the Los Padres National Forest, just outside of Santa Barbara. The area is a great spot for hiking, exploring, and soaking in the hot springs. The hot spring pools vary in temperature, from a hot 104°F to a chilly 58°F, and are a great spot for relaxing and unwinding. If you’re looking for a unique getaway, then look no further than Montecito Hot Springs. So, grab your hiking shoes and head out to explore the beauty of Montecito Hot Springs!

Details

Address: 1217 E Mountain Dr, Montecito, California 93108
Season: Year-round
Length: 4 miles (one-way)