Pets allowed
Allowed with Restrictions
Elevation Gain
6,811.00 ft (2,075.99 m)
Trail type
Loop
Distance
27.00 mi (43.45 km)
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

The Romero/Caliente Loop is a 27-mile loop in the Santa Ynez Mountains, outside the city of Santa Barbara. With nearly 7,000 feet of elevation gain, as well as a short section of route finding and ridge scrambling, this is a relatively challenging route. It does feature numerous backcountry campsites and a built-out hot spring at Big Caliente. While much of this area is fit for mountain bikers, the difficult off-trail section of this route makes for an unattractive bike adventure, and is recommended primarily as an overnight backpacking trip or long trail run. There are many ways to shorten or extend this adventure. 

Park at Romero Saddle on East Camino Cielo Road. This is a paved, but narrow and winding mountain road that can be difficult to navigate in inclement weather. Take the Divide Peak OHV Road past the seasonal gate for about half a mile. The Romero Trail descends sharply to the left. Connect with the Blue Canyon Trail, which takes you past the first backcountry campsite at Blue Canyon Camp. This is a primitive camp with a picnic bench, fire pit, and flat ground for a few close tents. Continue on another mile or so to Cottam Camp and the Blue Canyon Connector Trail. This section briefly follows the Santa Ynez River, one of the longest rivers (92 miles) on the California Central Coast. Around mile 4.6, you’ll meet the Romero Camuesa Road (dirt) and the peaceful campground at P-Bar Flats, beginning a section of tranquil, relatively flat road. Continue on past another peaceful and oak-shaded campground (Middle Santa Ynez), and turn left at the road juncture, following signs to Lower Caliente (FR 5N16). Near mile 9, meet the campground at Rock Camp, and half a mile afterwards, the hot spring at Big Caliente. The hot spring is a small, concrete pool, with water flowing from a metal pipe. There is a changing area, a picnic table, dilapidated bathrooms, and access downhill to a cold creek. Upper Caliente primitive camp is a lovely spot near mile 11 with picnic bench, fire pit and flat ground. Around mile 12 is when things begin to get a bit hairy. You’ll need to pay attention to the map, because our route leaves the trail and heads up a steep ridge. Elevation climbs quickly during this scramble, and you’ll soon meet the remnants of an old road, which makes for easier navigation. Near mile 14, connect with FR 6N17 or Hildreth Peak Road, which will take you 8 miles through steep inclines and descents back to the campground at P-Bar Flats. Retrace your old footsteps from here and back to Romero Saddle.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)

Winter
Spring
Fall

Congestion

Low

Parking Pass

None

Open Year-round

Yes

Days

2

Pros

Scenic views. Wildlife. Hot springs. Backcountry isolation.

Cons

Exposed in places.

Trailhead Elevation

3,007.00 ft (916.53 m)

Highest point

3,501.00 ft (1,067.10 m)

Features

Vault toilet
Near lake or river
Backcountry camping
Wildlife
Fishing
Big vistas
Wildflowers
Bird watching

Typically multi-day

Yes

Permit required

No

Location

Nearby Adventures

Nearby Lodging + Camping

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