Hiking, backpacking, and camping throughout Southern California and beyond

Montecito Peak - Peak #1 - This Time with the Family

A chilly morning with Montecito Peak in the distance Recently, my daughter indicated that she wanted to climb Montecito Peak. I let her know that a good way would be to start from the top of the ridge and climb down to it, since the climb from the bottom is ~7 miles and can be pretty steep. Disappointed, she insisted that we try it from the bottom. However, after a few days of debate, I convinced her to start from Camino Cielo, but she made me promise that we'd try it from the bottom when she got a little older.

It was a wonderful Sunday morning for a family hike, cool enough to still wear a layer at the beginning of a hike. We drove all the way up to Camino Cielo. If you can stomach the twists and turns, it's a great place to drive up before dawn to watch the sun rise.

We set out on the trailhead, and started descending immediately, as noted in my first ascent of Montecito Peak from the ridge, it is one of the few hikes I've been on where the peak is lower than the trailhead. Before long, it was time to remove our outer layers and enjoy the warming day. The ceanothus was in full bloom, permeating the trail with it's lovely scent.

The way got a little hairy when we had to leave the Cold Spring Trail and start ascending the peak via the use trail. Sophia wasn't use to what we called scrambling. Her feet were a little unsteady on the loose soil as she climbed the steep mountainside. She wasn't adept at using the extra trekking pole I had brought. So, we held hands on the way up and made pretty good time.

The Santa Barbara Snow, or ceanothus, is in full bloom

Taking a break on the rock bench

Getting closer to Montecito Peak

We scrambled the last bit to the top and enjoyed the view of the Pacific. It was a gorgeous day. Sophia signed her first summit register, including her hiking friend, "Buddy," who is a Magic Fuzzy Worm, without the invisible string. We enjoyed the peak for quite some time, having lunch and exploring the eastern edge, which has the memorial plaque.

Sophia's first summit log

Sophia and mom at the top (and Buddy)

The way back up to Camino Cielo

We headed back down, and, as expected, the scramble back down to the trail was twice as difficult as it was on the way up. We took our time and got through it and Sophia gained a little confidence in her hiking skills. We made it back to our car without incident and headed to The Habit for some nice burgers as a reward.

Sophia was pretty proud of herself for hiking 2.4 miles. And so was I.

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