Posted by: James Wapotich | March 18, 2011

Trail Quest: Tequepis Trail

If you’re looking for a quiet trail with not too many hikers then the Tequepis Trail may just be the answer. Located near Lake Cachuma this trail leads from the foothills to the top along West Camino Cielo and provides some exceptional views of the lake and the surrounding Santa Ynez Valley. To hike the length of the trail is about 8 miles round trip.

View of Lake Cachuma from West Camino Cielo

To get to the trailhead from Santa Barbara take State Route 154, and look for the turnoff for Circle V Ranch Camp on the left, which is three-quarters of a mile before the turn off for Lake Cachuma Recreation Area. There are actually several organizational camps associated with this turnoff, but the trailhead is near Circle V Ranch and so that’s the one to look for. Continue along the road, a portion of which is paved, and follow the signs to Circle V Ranch Camp and park just outside the camp.

The trail continues along the road, following the creek and passes through a portion of the camp. Please stay on the trail and respect private property. The trail then enters forest service land. Almost the entire length of the trail is shaded, mostly by oak trees and follows the creek up Tequepis Canyon for the first mile.

Coast LIve Oaks along the Tequepis Trail

The Tequepis trail takes its name from the Chumash village Teqeps that was once located in the canyon. Teqeps is the Chumash word for seed beater, which is a racket shaped basket used to gather seeds. The gather would us the seed beater to knock the seeds from flowering plants into a basket worn around the waist.

Tequepis Canyon Falls

At the one-mile mark there is a side trail that leads down to the creek and follows it to a small waterfall. The hike to the falls is about a half-mile roundtrip. From here the main trail moves away from the creek and continues its climb towards West Camino Cielo. Along the way the plants transitions from forested oak to chaparral and then as the trail nears the top transitions back to oak and madrone. Much of the trail is shaded not only because of the trees, but because it climbs the back or north side of the Santa Ynez Mountains

Madrone Tree, ring pattern is often found in regrowth following a forest fire

After 4 miles the trail reaches West Camino Cielo and one is rewarded with some great views of Figueroa Mountain, Lake Cachuma and the Santa Ynez Valley as well as some unique views of Goleta and the coast west of Goleta. Because the access to West Camino Cielo is limited, it is a rustic compliment to scenery found along East Camino Cielo. If one has time, a hike along the ridge provides additional views of both our local backcountry and the coast.

Hiked the Tequepis Trail near Lake Cachma, article appears in section A of the March 18th, 2011 edition of the Santa Barbara News-Press.


  1. […]  lake photo: Credit […]

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