Also known as “Hot Springs Canyon,” the Montecito Hot Springs in Santa Barbara is a natural area with several soaking pools filled with hot mineral water. It used to be privately owned but now belongs to and is managed by The Land Trust For Santa Barbara County.
Rumor has it that it is ruins of what was once a resort in the 1800s and is still a frequently visited spot by hikers and outdoor enthusiasts.
Hot Springs Pools
A few pools with rock walls at the springs cascade into one another, and they have varying depths and temperatures. The source water is 112℉, and the pool at the very top is the hottest. It’s also the pool that fits the most people at once. Clothing is optional, and locals frequently get in the water without suits.
You will notice a slight sulfur smell in the air and that the color of the water is a pretty blue hue. Since this area gets a lot of traffic, coming during a weekday is probably the best bet to avoid larger crowds.
To reach the springs, visitors have to do an easy to moderate scenic four-mile one-way hike. The trailhead is in a small parking lot to the northwest of Montecito, located at 1217 East Mountain Dr. There are only about seven or eight spots for cars, so going earlier is always better.
Trekking up the springs takes visitors on a rural path through beautiful forested landscapes with some ocean views. It’s best to wear sturdy footwear that can get wet. There isn’t great signage on the path to the springs, but previous hikers all recommended veering left when possible to stay on track.
No overnight camping is allowed at the springs’ site or on the trail to them. The town of Montecito has a few lodging options, including the San Ysidro Ranch, a luxury resort set on 500 acres dating back to the late 19th century. This property is near the trailhead to Montecito Springs, but it also has a pool and spa to make for a fun outdoor-centric vacation.
Discover some other hot springs near Santa Barbara.
Address: 1217 E Mountain Dr, Montecito, California 93108
Length: 4 miles (one-way)