The Cold Spring Arch Bridge – One gateway to Central California

Cold Spring Bridge

Cold Spring Arch Bridge

The Cold Spring Arch Bridge is found in Santa Barbara County on Highway 154 right at one of the entrances to Central California. A little detour off this backroad to another smaller backroad is worth the trip.

The Cold Spring Bridge on Highway 154 was completed in 1963 and made travel over the San Marcos Pass between the Santa Ynez Valley and Santa Barbara much quicker and easier.

Previously the road wound down through Cold Spring Canyon and was narrow and slow. That’s not such a bad thing if you’re on vacation and want to take it easy, but the needs of commerce demanded some more efficient way across this wide canyon.

Cold Spring Bridge plaque

It is a pretty bridge, built along the same lines as the famous bridges of Big Sur like the Bixby Creek Bridge.

I recommend a trip down the old route on Stagecoach Road for a couple of reasons. The first is that the detour isn’t that long and seeing the bridge from below is a great experience.

Cold Spring Bridge from below
Cold Spring Bridge as seen from below.

The second is that there is a relic of the “old days” down that road – The Cold Spring Tavern. We’ll talk more about the Tavern on another page, but for now we’ll mention that it dates from the 1880’s and still functions quite well as a stage stop. Good food, pleasant surroundings and entertainment on the weekends.

Another good reason for taking this little side road is that it gives you a nice respite on your way in or out of Central California. You’ll most likely be coming from Southern California if you use Highway 154 and stopping here to view the bridge will allow a little decompression on your way into the slower pace of the central coast or allow you just a few minutes more quiet time before heading back into the rush of LA.

I photographed this interesting detail of the Cold Spring Arch Bridge and didn’t really see what I had until I viewed it on my computer monitor. I like how a few of the beams of the bridge catch the late afternoon sunlight.

Maybe looking at the underside of bridges isn’t for you, but the side trip can be nice nonetheless. If you come through here in the rainy season the creeks will be flowing and that’s always nice to see.

Backroads – you never know what interesting things you’ll see.

North end of the Cold Spring Canyon Arch Bridge

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