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San Rafael Mountain


Location: Santa Barbara County, about 21 miles north of Goleta, 135 miles from Los Angeles


Auto Club: Santa Barbara County
Forest Service: Los Padres National Forest: Mt Pinos, Ojai and Santa Barbara Ranger Districts
USGS Topo: San Rafael Mtn 7½, Figueroa Mtn 7½
HPS: Route(s), waypoints and explanation of usage

Nearby Peaks: McKinley Mountain, Santa Cruz Peak

Printable version of this route


(USFS Adventure Pass required)
Distance: 20 miles round trip on road and trail
Gain: 3400'
Time: 11 hours round trip
Rating: Class 1, very strenuous

Original: Howland Bailey, February 1968


  • Take US 101 to just west of Santa Barbara. Turn north on SR 154.
  • Continue north and then west about 22 miles past Lake Cachuma, to Armour Ranch Road on the right. Turn right, note your odometer and go as follows:
  • At 1.3 miles, fork with Happy Canyon Road on the right. Turn right.
  • At 12.9 miles, Cachuma Campground.
  • At 15.3 miles, Cachuma Saddle and a ranger station on the left. Park in the large parking lot south of the ranger station.

Sometimes Happy Canyon Road is closed by a slide. In this case, continue farther west on SR 154 to the town of Los Olivos and then go north on Figueroa Mountain Road, which joins Happy Canyon Road at Cachuma Saddle.


  • From the parking area (3100'), cross the highway and hike in on 28W01, a dirt road to the east, 7 1/2 miles to McKinley Spring at 5600'. The spring is below the road on the left. This is a good camping spot.
  • Hike 1/2 mile farther east on 28W01 to the saddle between McKinley and San Rafael. This is also the turnoff for McKinley Mountain and Santa Cruz Peak.
  • A trail starts on the east end of this saddle. Follow this trail up along the ridge.
  • After about 1/2 mile the trail leaves the ridge and goes along the left (northwest) side of it for about a mile, then comes back onto the ridge. Continue about 1/4 mile farther, past a shallow saddle and along the north side of the ridge.
  • Where the trail gains the ridge again, turn sharp right at a trail junction and follow it about 50 yards up to the summit.


McKinley Mountain, Santa Cruz Peak, and San Rafael Mountain are together known as "The Big Three". They are normally done as a two day backpack. Water is usually available at McKinley Spring though it should be treated.

History of Summit Signature

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Please report any corrections or changes to the Mountain Records Chair.

Hundred Peaks Section, Angeles Chapter, Sierra Club
Published 28-December-2005
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