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Blue Canyon Trail - Los Padres National Forest
Trail Distance 5.36 Miles

Blue Canyon gets its name from the blue-green serpentine formations found along its 5 mile length. The canyon runs directly along the Santa Ynez Fault. This is a relatively narrow canyon with several overnight camps along it and a stream that flows year round. Beyond Cottam Camp a number of options are available. You can walk to the car camps at P-Bar Flats and Mid-Santa Ynez, continue down the Santa Ynez River to the Mono Trail and Mono Debris Dam, or make your way up to Forbush Flat.

If only for a short hike to the first creek crossing, a mile downstream, Blue Canyon is as colorful as its name. The trail wanders along the right side of the canyon, with colorful rock outcroppings along the way. It then drops down into an equally colorful creekbed and meanders along the creek for a half mile to Upper Blue Canyon Camp, providing a place to stay for the night that isn’t too far from your car. 

Though it is overgrown in places, the next 2.7 miles to Blue Canyon Camp are equally pretty. The canyon is narrow, the creek small but year round, and overhead alders, oaks and sycamore trees provide ample shading. Cottam Camp is a little more than a mile below Blue Canyon Camp. From there it is another mile further to the Santa Ynez River.

Probably the nicest thing about the Blue Canyon Trail is that it leads out into most of the upper river canyon. Below Cottam Camp you can cross the river and walk either to P-Bar Flats or Mid-Santa Ynez camp. A mile downstream you can reach the bottom of the Cold Springs Trail or cross the river and connect with the Mono Trail, which leads to Mono Camp. It’s also possible to take a connector trail up to Forbush Flats and hike from there up to the crest.

Ray Ford - http://www.sboutdoors.com/blue-canyon.html

Trail Details

  • Trail #: 26W12
  • Wilderness Area: Non Wilderness Area
  • County: Santa Barbara County
  • Ranger District: Santa Barbara Ranger District
  • Trail-head Latitude: 34.48652
  • Trail-head Longitude: -119.55995
  • Trail Condition: Good - Trail is easy to follow and is in good shape
  • Topo Maps:
  • Activities & Features:
    • Backpacking
    • Camping
    • Creek
    • Day Hiking
    • Mountain Biking
    • Panoramic Views
    • Wildlife Viewing



Trail Stats

  • Total Elevation Gain: + 1310 feet.
  • Total Elevation Loss: - 1569 feet.
  • Overall Average Slope Gain: + 8 %.
  • Overall Average Slope Loss: - 9 %.
  • Kilometers: (km)
  • Meters: (m)
  • Miles: (mi)
  • Feet: (ft)
  • Average Slope: (%)

Trail Camps

  1. Forbush Camp (2438 feet)
  2. Cottam Camp (1600 feet)
  3. Blue Canyon Camp (1700 feet)
  4. Upper Blue Canyon Camp (1878 feet)
Upload Images Aerial Overview Image Login to Download GPS File
Survey This Trail

Survey Photos:


  • Bryan Conant - 03-09-2014

  • Bryan Conant - 03-09-2014

  • Paul Cronshaw - 02-14-2015

  • Paul Cronshaw - 02-14-2015

  • Paul Cronshaw - 02-14-2015

  • Paul Cronshaw - 02-14-2015

  • Los Padres Forest Association - 02-26-2016

  • Los Padres Forest Association - 02-26-2016

  • Los Padres Forest Association - 02-26-2016

  • Los Padres Forest Association - 02-26-2016

  • Veronique Lisi - 02-25-2017

  • Veronique Lisi - 02-25-2017

  • Los Padres Forest Association - 03-08-2017

  • Los Padres Forest Association - 03-08-2017

  • Los Padres Forest Association - 03-08-2017

  • Los Padres Forest Association - 03-08-2017

  • Los Padres Forest Association - 03-08-2017

Submitted Trail Reports

Blue Canyon Trail Survey - 06-19-2017 - by Anonymous Surveyor
Link: Blue Canyon Trail
Date: 06-19-2017
Surveyor Name:Anonymous Surveyor
Trail description:The trail down from Forbush to Blue Canyon was eroding in some areas making it difficult to traverse down the switchbacks into the canyon.
Mode of transport:Hike
Trail condition:Needs some work
Condition details:Blue Canyon from Forbush
Blue Canyon Trail Survey - 06-10-2017 - by Seedubyuh
Link: Blue Canyon Trail
Date: 06-10-2017
Surveyor Name:Seedubyuh
Trail description:The section from Forbush Camp to Cottam Camp is in "lightly traveled" condition. The trail is largely overgrown, putting you in close proximity to Poison Oak and thistles. Some sections of the trail are eroded, particularly as you initially descend from Forbush Camp into the canyon.   
Mode of transport:Hike
Trail condition:Needs some work
Blue Canyon Trail Survey - 03-08-2017 - by Los Padres Forest Association
Link: Blue Canyon Trail
Date: 03-08-2017
Surveyor Name:Los Padres Forest Association
Trail description:George Williams ran all of Blue Canyon (from Romero-Juncal to Romero-Camuesa, or whatever those roads are called). Basically passable, but with a couple of low priority things that could be improved.
Mode of transport:Array
Trail condition:Needs some work
Images:

Upper Blue Canyon The old landslide got worse and is undercutting the trail bed a little. N34.4914927, W119.5846066

Upper Blue At a stream crossing, a tree has fallen across the trail, took me a while to figure out where the trail had been (but getting around it was easy once I did that) N34.4916616,W119.5907165


Blue between Romero and Cottam Large tree across trail, well defined path around tree N34.4938072,W119.6055800

Blue between Romero and Cottam debris on trail, not really an issue except it is immediately followed by a downed tree (next shot) N34.4948203,W119.6084772


Blue between Romero and Cottam immediately after previous shot N34.4948203, W119.6084772
Blue Canyon Trail Survey - 02-25-2017 - by Veronique Lisi
Link: Blue Canyon Trail
Date: 02-25-2017
Surveyor Name:Veronique Lisi
Trail description:The switchbacks right after forbush camp have slided and the trail is no longer passable at this place:
34.496963, -119.634166
Mode of transport:Hike
Trail condition:Needs some work
Images:

Slided trail, unsafe to cross if at all possible

View of the switchbacks from the top
Blue Canyon Trail Survey - 03-25-2016 - by Los Padres Forest Association
Link: Blue Canyon Trail
Date: 03-25-2016
Surveyor Name:Los Padres Forest Association
Trail description:Recent blog post from ValHikes, well worth the read for anyone heading into Blue Canyon.  Actually, well worth the read for anyone:

http://valhikes.blogspot.com/2016/03/blue-canyon.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+MomentsInDirtAndInk+%28Moments+in+Dirt+and+Ink%29
Mode of transport:Hike
Trail condition:Good shape and easy to follow
Blue Canyon Trail Survey - 02-26-2016 - by Los Padres Forest Association
Link: Blue Canyon Trail
Date: 02-26-2016
Surveyor Name:Los Padres Forest Association
Trail description:VWR sawyer crew removed all downed trees along the Blue Canyon Trail between Escondido Trailhead and Cottam Camp.  See photos for specifics.
Mode of transport:Array
Trail condition:Good shape and easy to follow
Images:

BEFORE

AFTER


BEFORE

AFTER
Blue Canyon Trail Survey - 01-23-2016 - by Los Padres Forest Association
Link: Blue Canyon Trail
Date: 01-23-2016
Surveyor Name:Los Padres Forest Association
Trail description:Recent Noozhawk article by Dan McCaslin about a hike down into Blue Canyon and beyond.  Worth a read if you are looking to explore the area:

http://www.noozhawk.com/homes_lifestyle/article/dan_mccaslin_upper_santa_ynez_river_via_blue_cottam_camps
Mode of transport:Hike
Trail condition:Needs some work
Blue Canyon Trail Survey - 02-14-2015 - by Paul Cronshaw
Link: Blue Canyon Trail
Date: 02-14-2015
Surveyor Name:Paul Cronshaw
Trail description:Except for the two downed trees, the trail corridor from the Blue Canyon Trailhead to Cottam Camp is in good condition.  I restored the tread on a few small slides.  There is flowing water at all the creek crossings.  Contrary to a previous survey there were no ticks. 
Mode of transport:Hike
Trail condition:Needs some work
Condition details:Two downed trees need to be removed
Images:

This is the largest downed tree located about 1/2 mile before Upper Blue Canyon Camp

Second downed tree located 1/2 mike before Blue Canyon Camp


Water in the Blue Canyon Creek

Section of trail before Cottam Camp
Blue Canyon Trail Survey - 01-07-2015 - by FP
Link: Blue Canyon Trail
Date: 01-07-2015
Surveyor Name:FP
Trail description:Trail is in good condition.  Beautiful old trees along the creek with water running right now.  But ticks are a BIG problem.  I pulled out 8 from various spots on my body (some of which I will let you guess...).  This trail might be a better option when the soil is not damp.
Mode of transport:Hike
Trail condition:Good shape and easy to follow
Blue Canyon Trail Survey - 03-09-2014 - by Bryan Conant
Link: Blue Canyon Trail
Date: 03-09-2014
Surveyor Name:Bryan Conant
Trail description:Large downed tree along Blue Canyon. 
Mode of transport:Hike
Trail condition:Needs some work
Number of trees down:1
Images:




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Last Updated: Tuesday, March 1, 2016



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