Teardrop, Santa Ynez Mountains

Tear Drop swimming hole Santa BarbaraBare bunned at Teardrop.

Teardrop was named for its shape. It’s a small swimming hole, a large bathtub, bored out of sandstone bedrock visually and audibly accented by a waterfall dropping into its emerald water. Like many swimming holes, its depth fluctuates through the years depending on how heavily it rains and if winter storms are strong enough to flush the pool of rocks or too weak and so it fills with sediment. Located on a steep slope of exposed bedrock, which provides plenty of room to lay around basking in the afternoon sun, it’s unshaded by forest canopy throughout the hottest part of the day. (Teardrop is located on private property that is off-limits to the general public without permission from Mr. A.)

Tear Drop swimming hole

The waterfall into Tear Drop.

Santa Barbara swimming hole Tear Drop
I lived for a time as a kid not much more than a stone’s throw up the canyon from Teardrop on the old Whitaker property in a Six Pac camper shell with my mom. As one might imagine, it was a humble, nothing fancy time of scant funds and some hardship. I woke more than once in the night to the sound of my mom weeping in the darkness, probably concerned about how to make ends meet and how little she was able to provide for her young son. Yet, as a kid who had few expectations or assumptions about how things should be I didn’t seem to lack much.

There was only one other kid around of my age, an often barefooted boy named Eric who lived with his hippie mom, “Rainbow,” and little sister, Aurora, in a trailer on the other side of a small sloping potrero. He once came to our house wearing nothing but a large bath towel because he apparently had no other clothes.

I didn’t much get along with him, however, and so I spent many hours alone exploring the Los Padres National Forest right outside our aluminum shelled camper door. There was little space inside our “home” for anything other than eating a meal or sleeping so I lived outdoors for the most part during daylight hours.

The point is not to recount some sob story or to say I had it particularly rough, many others had it way worse, but that in such lean times I learned to appreciate the subtle beauty and value of my surroundings, the natural wealth which too often seems to be overlooked by most people.

In combining my imagination with nature the possibilities for fun seemed limitless. I spent a lot of time outside in the mountains discovering in the forest ways to keep me occupied. It was a formative time that helped foster an interest in and appreciation for the Santa Ynez Mountains.

Tear Drop swimming hole Santa Barbara Los Padres National ForestLooking down the spillway from Teardrop pool.

Tear Drop swimming Santa BarbaraLooking up the spillway toward Teardrop.

Santa Barbara swimming holes Tear DropLooking up from the next pool down, the top of Teardrop waterfall barely visible.

Related Post:

Finding Frontier in the Forest Conquered

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11 Responses to Teardrop, Santa Ynez Mountains

  1. Pat says:

    Now it is clear to see why you seem to have such a connection to nature and specifically to the amazing area you still live in. Really well written also.
    Thanks so much for sharing this.

  2. Thank you for sharing your childhood story. Ironically, earlier today I read one of your posts and found myself wondering if you were wealthy and not working, in order to go on so many long and wonderful hikes and adventures. Maybe they don’t occur as often as it seems. I appreciate your knowledge, stories and great photos, especially since I can no longer physically go to places like those. Your writing is excellent too.

    • Jack Elliott says:

      Thanks for your comment, Donna, and kind words. I really don’t have much more time, if any, than the average person working forty hours a week with weekends off. I live comfortably, but am certainly not wealthy by Santa Barbara standards. I just usually run to the hills whenever I do have some free time. When that time is collected in photos and writing here on this blog it seems like it’s more than it really is.

  3. I actually think that’s quite a good childhood. Personality-building with lots of freedom and that most essential of things, abundant nature. Feel sorry for your Mum though – it must have been really tough for her. You turned out alright though didn’t you? 😉

  4. KnowWhere says:

    What could be better for a young person than a sunny slab of rock, some water flowing through it and all the creatures that call that place home. Excellent post……

  5. Augustus says:

    Nice post,
    So back in the day I used to go here fairly often.love those hot rocks! As the years have gone by I have noticed the no trespassing signs. How would I ask Mr A. If it would be cool for me to got to one of the old stomping grounds. You can always email me privately if its cool. Did that big rock fall in the pool in 1998 or 2003 ?

  6. sbrobert says:

    I have lived in Santa Barbara 35 years and have hiked extensively. But I never heard of this place until this week when I heard the name “Teardrop” from an old friend who used to live here in the 1980s.

    Can you please tell us anything about where this place is? Who would we contact to get permission to go there? If nothing else I am just curious to know approximately where there is such a water feature in an area with so little water! Thanks!

    • Jack Elliott says:

      Hey Robert. I’d rather not give out any location information about this place. Also, it’s on private property and access is restricted.

      Once upon a time I envisioned offering location info for sites I mention on this blog, but I’ve long since decided against doing that for several reasons.

      I’d rather that people be inspired by what they see around here and then be motivated to get out and explore their greater backyards and make their own discoveries, both physically and mentally, instead of me leading them directly to these places like a tourist destination.

      • sbrobert says:

        Sorry if I was not clear. I was not looking for exact directions. I was just curious in some general sense where this water feature is. This is a dry area. Is it on the ocean side of the mountains? Near Goleta? Montecito? Or is it above Paradise Road? Just a general geographic area would be nice to know in order to understand our area better.

      • Jack Elliott says:

        I’ll give you this. . .It’s on the frontside. . .not far from city limits. . .

  7. cynanaea says:

    Hi Jack,

    We live now on the Whitaker property, a lot has changed since the old days, you should come see us and check it out if you’re in Santa Barbara. We enjoyed reading about your most recent visit to teardrop and seeing the wonderful pics.

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