Santa Barbara Hikes: Arlington Peak

The Arlington Peak Hike is one of my favorite Santa Barbara hikes in the front country. With about 3,000 feet in elevation gain, this hike is quite strenuous. And in the last portion of the hike you get to boulder through large sandstone formations. The combination of different grades of elevation gain make this hike very interesting.

To begin the hike, park near the water reservoir at the end of Tunnel Road and walk up Spyglass Ridge fire road. This area is a popular recreational area in Santa Barbara and it can be hard at times to find parking near the water reservoir. Make sure to not block the road and to park on the side well behind the line. Otherwise there is a good chance that you will get a parking ticket.

The first section of the trail is on a paved fire road. At the first junction, after the paved road, make sure to stay on the left of the trail. After about 0.75 miles you will see a creek crossing. Until this junction, the Inspiration Point Hike (or Jesusita Trail) and the Cathedral Peak Hike are identical. But in order to continue on the Cathedral Peak Hike, you have to go up the creek bed for about 100 yards and the trail continues on the left. This part of the trail is not very well maintained and the junction can be hard to find at times.

You will stay near the creek for a little while. After another mile or so you will hit the first sandstone rock formations. The trail is very primitive at this point and it can be very hard to find the right route up. But do not give up, the views from the top of the peak are breathtaking and make the bouldering through the sandstones totally worth it.

Chumash Wilderness Backpacking in the Los Padres National Forest

Over Memorial Day weekend, Dana and I did a 3-day backpacking trip in the Chumash Wilderness and hiked the Tumamait trail. We entered the Los Padres National Forest on highway 33 near Sespe Wilderness. From there, we drove through Los Padres National Forest for about 1.5 hours and started our backpacking trip near Mount Pinos peak at 8,300 feet elevation. I highly recommend taking the time and driving through Los Padres National Forest, rather than taking the 101 south and driving up the 5 freeway. The roads are empty and you will see some amazing scenery.

The first leg of our trip peaked at about 8,800 feet elevation (Mount Pinos). From there we descended for about 6 miles to about 6,000 feet elevation and set camp at Mesa Springs campground. The views at Mesa Springs were breath-taking.

The next morning, we started our journey from Mesa Springs in the west and hiked east to Sheep Camp where we set camp for the night. Unfortunately the only trail that goes back to Sheep Camp is the trail we came from. Therefore we bushwhacked east for about 3-4 miles to Boyscout Road (see trail map). It was fairly cold and we welcomed the hot chocolate from a boyscout group that we met at our campsite.

The last leg of the trip was a 4 mile hike from our campsite back to the car near Mount Pinos peak. It was a great adventure!

Backpacker Magazine has another great recommendation for a backpacking trip in the Chumash Wilderness (it inspired our trip).

Trip Highlights:

  • Length: About 18 miles
  • 5,000+ feet in elevation gain (get ready for a workout)
  • Don’t miss the amazing views from Mesa Springs
  • Due to the high elevation, you can expect snow as late as in June (bring warm clothes)
  • Overall Difficulty: 

Below some pictures from our trip:

Best Day Hiking Backpack – Osprey Manta 25

Osprey Manta 25
Osprey Manta 25

Are you looking for a day hiking backpack? In my opinion, the best backpack for day hikes is the Osprey Manta 25 – hands down! I took this backpack on multiple day hikes and I absolutely love it. It is very durable, light and really comfortable to wear.

The Osprey Manta 25 is slim & long and fits snug onto your back, so that your arms are not scrubbing against it while hiking. This also makes it a great backpack for trail running.

My back tends to start sweating quickly and the Osprey AirSpeed suspension offers a great amount of ventilation between the pack and your back.

Check out another great review of the Osprey Manta 25 at

Key Features:

  • Packing Volume: 25 Liters / 1,300 cu.
  • Weight: 11 oz. (empty)
  • Pack includes a 3 liter Nalgene Hydration Reservoir with a 180° on-off pivot bite valve
  • Integrated rain cover and pole stowing system
  • Magnetic sternum strap buckle
  • Elastic stretch woven front pocket
  • Light alloy frame suspension
  • Tensioned breathable mesh fabric provides superb airflow through back contact zone.
  • Side crescents for side ventilation


  • Our Rating:
  • Light-weight, comfortable and very durable
  • Price range: $120 – $139

Where to buy?

Hiking Mount Agung in Bali

In September 2010, Dana and I traveled to Bali and hiked the highest mountain on the island, Mount Agung (10,308 feet).

In order to see the sunrise on the peak of the mountain, we started our hike at 2am in the morning. We stayed in a Hotel near the base of the mountain. The Hotel was the only one in the town and it was absolutely awful. I recommend sleeping in your “nice” Hotel room the night prior, wake up 1-3 hours earlier (depending on where you stay on the island) and start the hike, rather than staying in a crappy Hotel room near the base of the mountain. You will get a much better good-night-sleep.

We started our hike near Agung’s temple, which is located near the base of the mountain. Agung is a very holy mountain to the locals and it is recommended not to hike it without a local guide in order to fully “respect” the mountain. Our guide picked us up at 2am and drove us to the base. It was nice having a guide, as the trail can be rather primitive at times and we had many questions about the mountain and the island. The guide also supplies you with additional gear such as head lamps, rain coats, etc.

Read a great guide about Mount Agung.

San Gorgonio Hike Review

On August 1, 2010 Dana and I hiked San Gorgonio Mountain in the San Gorgonio Wilderness. San Gorgonio Mountain is the highest peak in Southern California at 11,503 feet (3,506 m) and it is located in the San Bernardino National Forest. This is a great 17 mile day hike. Due to the 5,500 feet elevation gain, it is a rather strenuous hike.

We drove down to the San Bernardino National Forest from Santa Barbara the day before we started the hike and camped about 30 minutes away from the trail head.