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See the Retired Peak Guides in the Archives for Microsoft Word and other versions of this peak guide.


Hildreth Peak


Location: Santa Barbara County, about 13 miles north of Summerland, 120 miles from Los Angeles


Auto ClubSanta Barbara County
Forest ServiceLos Padres National Forest: Mt Pinos, Ojai and Santa Barbara Ranger Districts
USGS ToposHildreth Peak 7½, Old Man Mountain 7½
Official HPS Maps TPO file - Save to your computer then open with National Geographic TOPO!
 Viewable PDF file - Approximately 6.5 megs
 GPX file or Google Earth KML file to download to GPS units and other map software (How to use GPX and KML files)
 Routes as shown on CalTopo using the above files (How to use CalTopo)

Printable version of this route


(USFS Adventure Pass may be required)
Distance: 16 miles round trip on trail, cross-country, and road
Gain: 4700' total, 3900' out plus 800' on return
Time: 10-11 hours round trip
Rating: Class 1, strenuous
Navigation: Intermediate
Leader Rating: "I", normal conditions

Original: Howland Bailey, February 1968


  • Take US 101 to Santa Barbara. Exit at Salinas Street.
  • Go 0.75 mile to a traffic circle at Sycamore Canyon Road (SR 144). Turn right.
  • Go 1.1 miles to Stanwood Drive (SR 192). Turn left.
  • Go 1.1 miles to El Cielito Road. Turn right.
  • In 0.3 mile, 4-way stop. Drive straight on El Cielito.
  • Go 0.2 mile to Gibraltar Road. Turn right.
  • Go 6.3 miles to Camino Cielo (unsigned). Turn right.
  • Go 6.7 miles to Romero Saddle.
  • Continue on this road, staying on the main road at any forks, as it goes down along the north side of the ridge, 5.3 miles to Juncal Campground. Immediately after crossing a shallow stream, turn left (northwest) at a fork.
  • Go 3 miles to the Pendola Guard Station. Turn right.
  • Go 2.7 miles to Caliente Hot Spring (Agua Caliente Spring). Park here.


  • From the parking area (1950'), hike up the trail on the left side of the stream. It crosses the stream in about 0.25 mile and comes back along the other side and goes up past a concrete dam.
  • Follow the trail up Agua Caliente Canyon, crossing a stream a number of times. Do not go up Diablo Canyon by mistake! After crossing the main stream 10 times, there will be a small campsite on the left side with a picnic table.
  • After crossing the main stream 4 more times, and just before the 5th, leave the trail to the left. Go northwest up the ridge that starts there, following an old roadbed and then use trails, to the prominently visible bump 3511'.
  • Continue down the ridge on use trails, staying on the southwest side, over a brushy plateau at 3480'. Meet a jeep road in the shallow saddle at 3350' just west of bump 3511'.
  • Turn right on this undulating road and follow it to where it comes out on the ridge just past (east) of the peak (4950').
  • Turn left off the road here (there may be a duck) and go west along the north side of the ridge and up over some rocks to the summit.


The dirt road is seasonal. It is sometimes closed a short distance before the hot springs adding several miles to the hiking distance.

Visitors at the hot springs can be very noisy late into the night. There are several good campsites prior to the hot springs.

Caliente Hot Springs is about a 1.5 hour drive from US 101 in Santa Barbara.

The number of stream crossings counted in the hiking directions may be subject to change.

Printable version of this route


(Special Permit and
USFS Adventure Pass may be required)
Distance: 14 miles round trip on road and cross-country
Gain: 5000' total, 2500' out plus 2500' on return
Time: 7-8 hours round trip
Rating: Class 1, strenuous

Original: John Backus, September 1985


  • Take US 101 and SR 33 to the town of Ojai.
  • From the intersection of SR 150 and SR 33 in Ojai, go north on SR 33 for 32 miles to Reyes Summit. Turn left on a gated and locked dirt road. This is the Potrero Seco Road (see notes below). Go through the gate, note your odometer and go as follows:
  • Go 3.4 miles, keeping right at all forks to a cattle guard. Continue straight.
  • At 4.9 miles, Don Victor trail on the right. Continue straight.
  • At 7.3 miles, fork. Go right.
  • At 8.1 miles, a big gendarme. Park just before it. Ample parking.


  • From the parking area, a dirt road starts and goes west. Follow this road along a ridge with many ups and downs to a saddle just east of Hildreth.
  • Proceed as in Route 1. The summit of Hildreth is visible for most of this route.


The Potrero Seco Road is open under permit, depending on conditions. Permits and the combination to the lock may be obtained at the Ojai Ranger Station. At least one day advance notice is required. There is a permit pick-up box in front of the ranger station.

(805) 646-4348

As of August, 2015, this road (6N03) is "Closed Indefinitely: due to funding issues. Biking and hiking is allowed.

One permit is good for one vehicle with a maximum of four people. There is a limit of one permit per person. The vehicle license number is required on the permit. A permit will not be granted whenever the road might be wet.

Hikers have had trouble with obtaining the correct gate combination. Below are some suggestions made by Sandy Sperling, Byron Prinzmetal and the District Ranger:

  • First of all you need to call ahead of time or visit the Ojai Ranger Station ahead of your planned hike date to obtain your permit and the gate combination. You can not, as of this writing, obtain the permit and gate combination by visiting the ranger station the day you want the permit.
  • Call or visit the ranger station in Ojai Monday-Friday during business hours as close to your hiking date as possible to verify and re-verify the lock combinations.
  • Make sure the combination(s) you are given are for the gate you intend to go through and not some other gate.
  • Be aware that rain closes the gate entirely, and that the lock combinations will change more frequently in the case of rain.
  • Ask for the previous and next combinations as the combination changes regularly.
  • You may be fortunate if given the wrong combination to have someone let you in, but you will need to find someone with the correct combination who is willing to give it to you so you can get out.
  • When you pick up your permit, check all the other permits and permit copies in the pickup box for other combinations. Write these down in case yours doesn't work.

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