03 April 2014

Mission Ridge

Santa Barbara front country

Locate the trailhead.


Robert Bernstein invited me on a hike up Mission Ridge, which is a crest of rock along a strike canyon between Mission Canyon and Rattlesnake. I have done this hike in the dark with the Wednesday conditioning hike the local Sierra Club hosts (but open to all), and thought it would be nice to see it in the day. The Wednesday group hikes it from Rattlesnake using the use trail up to the Edison catway, then loops around the back of the ridge to the junction and back down. Robert prefers to take Tunnel Trail to get more views out toward the ocean. It is probably a little shorter hike this way and there is less travel on use trails although the main event of the hike is still crazy use trail. First, we have to find a parking spot at the Tunnel Trailhead. This is particularly difficult a little after 11AM, even on a weekday. The day is beautiful and there is one paraglider off over Gibraltar Road as we start. We see many people on the trail until we make the last turn to go up Tunnel where Jesusita starts. After that, there is just a pair going to the top.

looking out of Mission Canyon from Tunnel Trail
The view out of Mission Canyon from Tunnel Trail. The Edison catway winds through the canyon lower down.

Mission Canyon to La Cumbre Peak
Arlington Peak, or at least the ridge line to it, dominate the other side of Mission Canyon. One can just make out the fire lookout at the top of La Cumbre behind it.


There are a lot of switchbacks up tunnel as it climbs to get around the hard rock ridge. As the trail turns to duck behind the ridge, there is a thin line of dirt up over small rocks along the ridge. We turn up this and although hands are not essential, it is steep and rocky enough to encourage grabbing at handholds. From this side, the rocky outcrop of the high point is a quick climb. I somehow remember it being much further in the dark, but then trails always seem to shrink with familiarity.

tucked between rocks in the trail
A few of these succulents were tucked away between the rocks in the trail.

The rock outcrop that is generally the destination along this trail is just a little south of the ridge. We settle into it for a bit of lunch and to take in the view. There is a little haze far out and clouds are gathering, but the overall effect is quite beautiful.

trails below the ridge
The trails of Mission Canyon are laid out below the ridge.

Gibraltar Road
Gibraltar Road snakes up the ridge on the far side of Rattlesnake Canyon.

The skies over Gibraltar Road seem to contain a hang glider now instead of a paraglider. A few minutes later, one can be seen down by the beach, which seems fast for a hang glider, but the one over the ridge is lost. Then we spot that one again and the other is still over the hills. They come together and there seems to be a third one where they are collecting. The three circle on the same thermals for a while. We take our eyes off them for a while, then there is a sudden whoosh of air overhead as one buzzes us. It is not as loud as being buzzed by a glider, but it is a smaller vehicle.

hang glider in the coulds
The buzzer.

hang glider over the ridge
Another hang glider over Rocky Pine Ridge behind us.

After watching the antics of the hang gliders a little longer, we start down the ridge. This side is a somewhat longer hike and has one exposed spot. It does not look as scary in the daylight as I feared after crossing it in the dark. This brings us down to the top of the Edison catway, which we follow down for a while.

yellow and white blooms
Small irises at the side of the trail.

rocky bit of ground sticking up
Looking back over the ridge we are traveling along.

Along the way down, there is an opportunity to take a side trail instead of the catway for a little way, so we do that. The local tumbleweed equivalent is trying to obscure the trail, be we find our way, then continue the rest of the way on the catway.

Santa Barbara Harbor
The Santa Barbara Harbor below, Santa Cruz Island behind it. On the hill to the left is St. Mary's Seminary.




©2014 Valerie Norton
Posted 3 April 2014

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