Cathedral Peak – SB Peak #3 – A steep scramble in the rocks and brush

On Top of La Cumbre Peak

On Top of La Cumbre Peak

Cathedral Peak
Elevation: 3,333′
Miles: ~4.5 Miles
Trail head (34.4956, -119.7142)
Agency: Los Padres National Forest

Since I got so close last time, I decided to give this peak another try. Once again, the sun rose as I ascended Camino Cielo and drove to the La Cumbre Lookout Tower. I decided to give the tower a quick visit.

Since I had started running again in the mornings, I felt good as I scampered over the summit block. I tried recording a video, but had some audio issues.

Looking Towards Camuesa Peak and Big Pine Mountain from Camino Cielo

Looking Towards Camuesa Peak and Big Pine Mountain from Camino Cielo

Santa Barbara Coast

Santa Barbara Coast

I made my way back to the bench on the edge of the mountain and followed the correct small trail and was at the point where I stopped last time in about 2 minutes. I took another look at the steep use trail below me and stowed my trekking poles. They would just get in the way as I climbed over rocks and, from the looks of it, through brush.

Cathedral and Arlington Peaks from the Trail

Cathedral and Arlington Peaks from the Trail

My knees let me know that they weren’t used to this sort of exertion, as I scooted down the hill. The trail led a good distance down to a saddle between La Cumbre and Cathedral Peaks and then ascended steeply up the other side. I couldn’t tell where the trail was that led up the other side, but I had a feeling I’d find it.

I became more careful after slipping on some loose gravel and then I was at the saddle, which became more of a rolling trail through brush. I got a pretty good view of the mountains to the north. I passed an area of bamboo-like reeds and then I was immersed into the trees, where the trail got so low that at times I had to crawl on my hands and knees.

Looking North from the Trail

Looking North from the Trail

The Trail through the trees

The Trail through the trees

The trail then started climbing steeply up to Cathedral Peak. I grabbed onto some branches here and there to keep me from slipping back downward. After sucking air for a little while from the steep ascent, I came out on the western edge of the peak, which then turned east and headed towards the summit block. It was nice to see some flowers blooming this late into winter.

Purple flower just below the Cathedral Peak Summit

Purple flower just below the Cathedral Peak Summit

Yellow flowers just below the Cathedral Peak Summit

Yellow flowers just below the Cathedral Peak Summit

I followed the trail over some rocks until I realized I was probably  past the peak and turned around and scrambled up the eastern side of the peak. The trial I was about to follow undoubted led to Arlington Peak. Once atop the peak, I leaned on a rock and soaked in the views. My legs were tired. They hadn’t done such steep work like this in a while.

Arlington Peak with the silver ocean beyond

Arlington Peak with the silver ocean beyondChannel Islands

I turned and looked behind me and looked at where I had come from. It was a long way back up to the car. One thing I say to myself when I feel a little tired is, “The mountain isn’t going to climb itself.” I then heard some voices and could see two climbers resting on top of Arlington Peak. I considered adding that peak to my hike today, but, given the intensity of my return path, I decided against it. “A man’s got to know his limitations” is another thing I say to myself when I have lofty and unreasonable goals.

The way back to the La Cumbre Peak Lookout Tower is way up there

The way back to the La Cumbre Peak Lookout Tower is way up there

Two Hikers on Arlington Peak

Two Hikers on Arlington Peak

After some nice time on the peak, I headed back down and tried to make some good time. I found that I had passed a really easy way up that was right off the trail. I’d know where to come next time.

It seemed as if the brush was barbed against me, so my gear and clothing kept on getting caught. My hat got ripped from my head many times, and I kept hitting my head on thick and low branches. I even got quite a scratch on my forehead to show my coworkers on Monday.

Slowly, I made my way back up the other side to La Cumbre Peak. I was happy to see my trekking poles, as they were a sign that I was near the top. I made it back to Camino Cielo and noticed the sun peeking through the clouds at the mountains beyond. I climbed the small hill on the other side to capture my future hiking grounds.

Looking Towards Camuesa Peak and Big Pine Mountain from Camino Cielo

Looking Towards Camuesa Peak and Big Pine Mountain from Camino Cielo

Cathedral Peak Trail Map

Cathedral Peak Trail Map (Click to enlarge)

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Comments

  1. Josh Martinez says

    Cathedral Peak is an awesome, HARD and rewarding hike. Want to know if you have only done so from the top. Starting at the bottom, near Seven Falls is the way I have always gone. If you haven’t tried that way, I strongly suggest that you do. Great pics, you have re-motivated me to get back out there and hike.

  2. says

    As a matter of fact, I was planning on ascending from the bottom this morning, but had to work late last night, so an early morning start was out of the question. Soon.

  3. Josh Martinez says

    It is very steep in the beginning (creek crossing), but will get easier about ¼ of a mile up (you climb about 700ft that first part). The rest of it is easy going, well until you get to the Pine tree on the right hand side of the ridge line. Last time I was up there, the trail was hard to impossible to find, but as long as you stay on the ridge line you should be able to get to Arlington Peak and from there the trail is fairly easy to follow. Have a great hike. Looking forward to you write up on the ascent.

  4. Josh Martinez says

    Oh yeah, don’t bother bringing your trekking poles, they will only get in the way. Maybe a good pair of gloves instead.

  5. says

    Yes, gloves are a must. I had to stow my poles just as the “trail” started to drop straight down and they weren’t that useful in the early part of the trail, either.

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