Hot Springs Canyon, Santa Barbara
One of the last undeveloped, private properties in the Santa Barbara foothills was protected in 2012, a culmination of four years of work on the most complex and expensive land acquisition the Land Trust has ever done. The 462-acre Hot Springs Canyon has always been privately owned, since the 1960’s by the McCaslin family, yet the public has hiked and ridden on this undeveloped land for decades. The McCaslins approached the Land Trust in 2008 when they decided to sell but the world economic collapse made for a difficult time to raise charitable contributions. In 2011, we revisited this opportunity and after much research and community outreach, decided to enter into a purchase option. In a fast-moving campaign lasting from March 2011 to March 2012, the Land Trust succeeded in raising $7.8 million dollars – all of it from generous local individuals, families and foundations with no government money going into this land purchase. From the beginning, the Land Trust made clear its plan to convey the land to Los Padres National Forest for long-term stewardship as we do not have the capacity to manage this property. The canyon is entirely within the National Forest boundary and is largely surrounded by public land.
On November 15, 2013, following negotiations with government agencies, utility companies and adjacent landowners, The Land Trust for Santa Barbara County handed over the deed to the United States Forest Service, the final step in the Trust’s conveyance of 422 acres of land in Hot Springs Canyon.
The most difficult hurdle was related to a non-producing ground water well that the Montecito Water District was given rights to use by the previous landowner. The Forest Service found major parts of that agreement unacceptable, and months of effort by the Land Trust to negotiate a new agreement acceptable to both agencies resulted in an impasse. As a result, the Trust will continue to own and manage a 40-acre parcel at the entrance to Hot Springs Canyon, with the water well site, while conveying 422 acres to the Forest Service.
Check out our brochure to learn more about contributing to the Hot Springs Canyon Stewardship Fund.
Visiting Hot Springs Canyon
Directions to the trailhead: From U.S. 101 in Montecito, exit Olive Mill Road, which, after intersecting Alston Drive, continues as Hot Springs Road. Three miles from U.S. 101, you’ll reach Mountain Drive. Turn left and proceed 1/4 of a mile to the trailhead, which is on the right side of the road and is marked by a Montecito Trails Foundation sign.
- Parking is limited— park safely and do not block roads or driveways.
- It’s about a mile hike each way to the springs.
- Not wheelchair accessible.
- The pools are not maintained and they are not on Land Trust property.
- Dogs are permitted but pick up after them.
- Leave no trace. Pack it in/pack it out.
- Trail is open dawn to dusk, no overnight parking or camping.
The following activities are prohibited:
- Use of motorized vehicles, including but not limited to all terrain vehicles, dirt bikes, etc.
- Use or disposal of glass.
- Setting of any fire and smoking.
- Use of firearms and hunting.
- Trail building and brush cutting without permission of the Land Trust.