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Devils Canyon Trail - Los Padres National Forest
Trail Distance 3.39 Miles

The Devil’s Canyon loop allows you to experience the enchanting canyon to be found beyond Red Rock while at the same time escaping the crowds that sometimes end up there. This is possible because the swimmers and sunbathers don’t usually begin to show up until the early afternoon. Starting at 9am (or so) allows you to avoid most people. 

Begin the hike by following the gravel road past Red Rock. As you leave the popular swimming hole behind you’ll find yourself walking on what seems like a country road—this one dates back to the days when this area was being developed for its mineral riches—mainly quicksilver. Contorted layers of rock on the north side of the river show the extreme pressures which the shale must have undergone. Underfoot, if you look carefully, you can still find pieces of the red brick quicksilver kilns. Beyond this you’ll find more pools as the road meanders back and forth across the river and through sycamore, cottonwood, and willow groves, meadows, and groves of live oak for several miles to Gibraltar Dam.

When you reach the base of the dam, rather than hiking up the last steep hill to the top of it, head up the road just as if you were returning back to Red Rock on the high road. Fifty yards up the road look for the beginning of the Devil’s Canyon Trail. The canyon is deep and narrow, and for the first half mile has a rugged and wild character to it as it passes through a thick layer of sandstone. Above this the canyon opens, and the trail turns to the right (west) and begins to climb a series of grass slopes as it rises up into the Santa Ynez Fault. Another half mile brings you to the end of Devil’s Canyon and the beginning of Matias Potrero. Continue west of this for 2.5 miles to a trail intersection (marked by a sign). A right turn will drop you down to Paradise Road just a few hundred yards below Live Oak picnic area.

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

Trail Details

  • Trail #: 27W14
  • Wilderness Area: Non Wilderness Area
  • County: Santa Barbara County
  • Ranger District: Santa Barbara Ranger District
  • Trail-head Latitude: 34.52109
  • Trail-head Longitude: -119.68833
  • Trail Condition: Good - Trail is easy to follow and is in good shape
  • Topo Maps:
  • Activities & Features:
    • Day Hiking
    • Mountain Biking
    • Panoramic Views
    • Wildlife Viewing

Trail Stats

  • Total Elevation Gain: + 400 feet.
  • Total Elevation Loss: - 2423 feet.
  • Overall Average Slope Gain: + 16 %.
  • Overall Average Slope Loss: - 16 %.
  • Kilometers: (km)
  • Meters: (m)
  • Miles: (mi)
  • Feet: (ft)
  • Average Slope: (%)
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Submitted Trail Reports

Devils Canyon Trail Survey - 05-18-2015 - by Gerry Ching
Link: Devils Canyon Trail
Date: 05-18-2015
Surveyor Name:Gerry Ching
Trail description:

Hiked the Matias Potrero - Devil's Cyn loop today. The eastern segment of the Matias trail is in relatively good shape. Overgrown in spots, but the tread is always visible. The junction of the Matias and Devil's Cyn trails is marked with a large metal sign which doesn't mention the Devil's Cyn trail. Go left and downhill from this junction.

The Devil's Cyn trail descends fairly steeply. The section 0.3 miles from the junction is overgrown with tall grasses, but can be followed easily with care. Several downed trees (0.8 mile from end of trail) across the path requires going around or over. The last 0.4 mile involves 4 stream crossing with lots of poison oak. Long pants and long-sleeved shirts highly recommended. The track is a little hard to see, but followable. There is a trail sign where the trail meets Paradise Rd, but the sign doesn't identify the trail.

Did this loop without a car shuttle, parking the car at the Matias Potrero trailhead. Utilizing the shortcut trail down to the Red Rock parking lot, total mileage with 8.6 miles.

The day was near perfect for this hike. Cool, in the low 70s with a fresh breeze. Oh, a fair number of ticks encountered. Note: the Matias/Devil's Cyn route as marked on the 1995 topo quad is quite accurate.

Mode of transport:Hike
Trail condition:Needs some work
Condition details:Devil's Cyn trail needs work

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Last Updated: Tuesday, March 1, 2016

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    Phone: (805) 968-6640
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