Your natural outdoor spa awaits!
Montecito Hot Springs, also known as Hot Springs Canyon, is a deserted hot springs resort from the 1800s located in the coastal mountains of San Padres. Today, the property is managed by the Land Trust for Santa Barbara County with hikers making their way through the picturesque surroundings to the canyon. The only remnants of the original hot springs resort are the stone ruins and exotic fauna and flora, which are now landmarks along the trail. Although, the cascading, naturally heated pools are really the main attraction, especially as winter creeps in.
Santa Barbara is a paradise for thermal spring seekers. There are the Gaviota Hot Springs although these aren’t as warm and only really qualify as warm springs with temperatures of 80°F. While Little Caliente and Big Caliente Hot Springs, offer a toasty soaking, you’ll probably be pretty hot by the time you’ve completed the arduous 10-mile hike to get to them. So, if you’re looking for a friendlier wander up the beautiful mountainsides and the reward of a bath in rock-walled pools with water averaging about 112°F at the source, then Montecito Hot Springs is where you want to go.
You can access the trailhead (1217 E Mountain Dr, Montecito, CA 93108) by car which is about a 15-minute drove from Santa Barbara. Unfortunately, the trail to the springs isn’t clearly demarcated, but you can follow this All Trails map—or follow the smell of sulfur.
You’ll be rewarded with breathtaking, verdant scenery on your way up and at least a third of your journey is shaded, so prepare accordingly. It’s roughly a 4-mile loop and once you reach the series of vivid color pools you’ll be able to get that spa treatment you deserve. Sulfurous water has tons of healing benefits and is believed to be a great treatment for skin irritations, arthritis and other of internal issues. If you’re wondering about the bright blue, it’s caused by harmless bacteria.
Trailhead: 1217 E Mountain Dr, Montecito, CA 93108