03 March 2017

Tangerine Falls

Santa Barbara front country

Off to another waterfall and with an even later start. The light is just better for this one in the early afternoon. Parking is even harder at Cold Spring than it was at San Ysidro and finding a spot means sloshing through the ford a couple times. And it is proper sloshing! There is some childhood recollection of this trail every time I start from the west side trailhead. It just looks right with its stencil letters cut through the metal sign. I always get the sense that this is the proper side to start although it quickly crosses over to the other trail starting on the east side of the creek.

Cold Spring Trail starts here.

round pools along the creek
Perfect pools along Cold Spring Creek. Also a bit of destruction from when the water rose higher.

Today, the crossing is a big pool. It does not take very much walking downstream to find a good spot to rock hop across. The turn for the west fork is a little more obvious than usual. It seems like the area has been cleaned up of undergrowth even above where the high water flowed. The crossing here has had some stones set for hopping across and while a group coming the other way pauses to work up the courage to make a big hop on one set, I just detour a few feet downstream again to take an easier set of rocks.

water falling
At just three feet, does it qualify as a waterfall?

east fork
Such perfect water coming down the east fork!

pushed brush
Pull back and the power of the water shows a little. This area was chest high brush except for the thin trail through it.

The west fork does not have quite so much water as the east fork and it will split again before getting to the waterfall on the north fork. It was never quite dry down here or up above the waterfall, but in between has been dry for a long time. I just keep wandering how much water will be there now.

West Fork Cold Spring
A fair bit of water seems to be coming down West Fork Cold Spring.

dry high canyon rocks
Outcrops of canyon rocks show something like what the waterfall has been.

view out the canyon
The trail stays high above the creek bed, so there can be some views.

four petals and in clusters
Milk maids are putting in an appearance as part of the early flowers.

Around another corner and I can stop wondering how much water is coming over the cliff to make Tangerine falls. Most of the upper section is on display and it certainly does have a bit of water tumbling over the edge.

Tangerine Falls
A gush of water in the distance: Tangerine Falls.

Someone has taken a hacksaw to the new "unmaintained trail" sign that marks the north fork. That does not seem to be reducing the traffic. This trail is a lot bigger than when I first came here to see this waterfall. Now I know to avoid all the little trails that break off early to get into the creek. I follow along the main trail until it takes a hard turn to climb the hill beside some old pipe. This is where unmaintained trail turns into use trail. There is not much difference at first as I follow along the pipe up the creek.

About to cross the creek with the pipe.

peek of the waterfall
The waterfall peeks out above a wild splash in the creek.

I am surprised to see a lot of dogs on the trail. This becomes an absolute scramble near the waterfall and rather unsuitable to dogs. Most of them do seem to be small enough to be stuffed in a handbag, so easy to carry and hand up. Trails drop down early to the creek for a few new views of the waterfall, but the only way to really see it is to get up by it.

waterfall from below
An early view of the waterfall. Getting close, but still far below.

Not only is the last bit a scramble, it is wet up the middle of a side creek. In between the scramble sections, it is very steep up the hill. Most people are approaching the bottom of the falls from a low spot and scrambling up a rock. I go for a high spot where I can follow a crack down again. Both routes have their uncomfortable spots for the casual rock climber.

very steep down canyon view
Looking down the canyon. Below is the rock for the low route and a couple people thinking about doing it. There is only a hint as to how steep this canyon is just as it approaches the bottom of the falls.

lots of water
The high route gives me a side view of Tangerine Falls. There is a reason so many are coming this way.

I drop my pack for the scramble down. This is an impressive waterfall.

misty bottom of the falls
Rainbows in the mist.

another view of the whole
Tangerine Falls gets to looking a little foreshortened since one must stand so close. These full views are many shots stitched together.

flowing water over smooth stone
Water really knows how to be beautiful.

I climb back up the rock to spend a little more time time listening and watching. For a moment, I even have the waterfall to myself, but it does not last long.

people everywhere
One more for scale.

Eventually, I head out too, returning the way I came. There are plenty more coming up the other direction as a go. One group is even holding printouts of instructions to get here and seeking assurances they have made the right turn after two wrong turns. They seem tire and I wonder if they will really complete the trip once they see what it really entails. Zooming back down gets a little faster once back on the main trail.

west fork
One of those turns that might have been missed.

©2017 Valerie Norton
Posted 6 March 2017

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