Hikes in Santa Barbara County

Below is a collection of trails around Santa Barbara, California. These hikes are listed from west to east, but the table may also be sorted alphabetically or by distance to help you pick your next hike. Each trail links to its own report complete with photos, maps, directions, and all the other information needed to locate and enjoy these hikes. You can also view hikes around Santa Barbara County on the Hike Finder Map.

Highlights of Santa Barbara County

  • This 2.5-mile hike just off the 101 Freeway in Gaviota State Park visits wind-carved caves with great ocean views.
  • This 0.65-mile hike visits an 80-foot tall fern-lined waterfall in Nojoqui Falls Park.
  • This 6.5-mile loop tours scenic ridges in Gaviota State Park to arrive at a soaring overlook above the Gaviota Tunnel.
  • This 1 to 2-mile hike goes from Carpinteria Bluffs Nature Preserve to a viewing area above a harbor seal rookery, offering beach access and beautiful oceanfront hiking.
  • This 0.8-mile hike visits the scenic ruins of an estate home built atop the mountains behind Santa Barbara.
  • This 6.5-mile loop mounts a 2,458-foot summit two miles from the Pacific and then descends Trespass Trail to explore the wilds of the Santa Ynez Mountains.
  • This 1.85-mile lollipop loop in Montecito crosses charming stone bridges over San Ysidro Creek to explore a lush oak forest that is flooded by nasturtiums in the spring.
  • This 3.7-mile hike uses four trails to form a loop to a vista point in the Santa Ynez Mountains behind Montecito.
  • This 7.1-mile partial loop climbs to a panoramic summit in Los Padres National Forest overlooking Montecito and Santa Barbara.
  • This 7.7-mile hike reaches a panoramic viewpoint in the Santa Ynez Mountains overlooking Santa Barbara.

Hiking Santa Barbara

If you come to Santa Barbara for the scenic coastline, fine wineries, and quaint lodging, you should stay for the excellent hiking. Just behind the coastal cities of Santa Barbara County lie the Santa Ynez Mountains. This east-west range is part of Los Padres National Forest and forms a beautiful green backdrop for Santa Barbara. There are many great trails through these mountains, visiting quiet canyons, gushing waterfalls, and tranquil overlooks with stunning ocean views. Another attractive thing about hiking in Santa Barbara is that most of the trails are free! Start exploring Santa Barbara.

Trail
Description
Distance
Location
Nojoqui Falls540Nojoqui Falls
This short out and back hike visits an 80-foot tall fern-lined waterfall.
0.65 miles
175 feet
34.528556,
-120.172473
Gaviota Pass Overlook550Gaviota Pass Overlook Loop
This loop tours scenic ridges in Gaviota State Park to arrive at a soaring overlook above the Gaviota Tunnel.
6.5 miles
650 feet
34.507693,
-120.227949
Gaviota Peak560Gaviota Peak
This loop mounts a 2,458-foot summit two miles from the Pacific and then descends Trespass Trail to explore the wilds of the Santa Ynez Mountains.
6.5 miles
2,150 feet
34.504598,
-120.2259
Gaviota Hot SPrings570Gaviota Hot Springs
This short hike visits a warm hot springs along the trail to Gaviota Peak.
1 mile
400 feet
34.504598,
-120.2259
Tunnel View580Tunnel View and Trespass Trails Loop
This loop steals views over the 101 Freeway and the Gaviota Tunnel from Gaviota State Park.
2.6 miles
600 feet
34.504598,
-120.2259
Gaviota Wind Caves590Gaviota Wind Caves
This out and back hike just off the 101 Freeway in Gaviota State Park visits wind-carved caves with great ocean views.
2.5 miles
650 feet
34.471706,
-120.229656
El Capitan State Beach Nature Trail595Nature Trail in El Capitán State Beach
This loop explores a lush sycamore grove bordering El Capitán Creek to approach the rocky shore at the end of El Capitán Point.
0.35 miles
18 feet
34.460105,
-120.023608
Tequepis Trail600Tequepis Trail
This out and back hike delivers views of Lake Cachuma as it climbs the Santa Ynez mountains to a saddle overlooking the Pacific.
8.4 miles
2,300 feet
34.551893,
-119.955904
Castle Ruins610Knapp's Castle
This easy hike visits the scenic ruins of an estate home built atop the mountains behind Santa Barbara.
0.8 miles
50 feet
34.518155,
-119.793234
Santa Barbara Painted Cave620Chumash Painted Cave
This very short trail looks in on Native American rock art in the Santa Ynez Mountains.
0.1 miles
20 feet
34.504479,
-119.787734
Lizards Mouth630Lizard’s Mouth
This short out and back hike visits a unique rock formation with amazing views over Santa Barbara and the Pacific.
0.5 miles
25 feet
34.502263,
-119.867721
Jesusita Trail640Inspiration Point from San Roque Road
This out and back hike up the western side of Jesusita Trail reaches a panoramic perch in the Santa Ynez Mountains overlooking Santa Barbara.
7.55 miles
1,400 feet
34.45432,
-119.72875
Inspiration Point Tunnel Road642Inspiration Point from Tunnel Road
This out and back hike combines Tunnel Trail and Jesusita Trail to ascend Mission Canyon to a sweeping viewpoint that looks down over Santa Barbara and up into the Santa Ynez Mountains.
3.75 miles
825 feet
34.46492,
-119.71272
Tangerine Falls650Tangerine Falls
This out and back hike crosses a lush canyon to a beautiful waterfall on the edge of Los Padres National Forest near Santa Barbara.
2.5 miles
900 feet
34.456058,
-119.653302
Montecito Peak660Montecito Peak
This partial loop climbs to a panoramic summit in Los Padres National Forest overlooking Montecito and Santa Barbara.
7.1 miles
2,450 feet
34.456058,
-119.653302
McMenemy Overlook670McMenemy Overlook
This hike uses four trails to form a loop to a vista point in the Santa Ynez Mountains behind Montecito.
3.7 miles
1,000 feet
34.446008,
-119.622303
Ennisbrook Trail Montecito673Ennisbrook Trail
This easy lollipop loop crosses charming stone bridges over San Ysidro Creek to explore a lush oak forest that is flooded by nasturtiums in the spring.
1.85 miles
150 feet
34.425482,
-119.622238
Carpiteria Salt Marsh680Carpinteria Salt Marsh Nature Park
This level out and back hike explores El Estuaro, a vital ecosystem for shorebirds.
1.2 miles
10 feet
34.395872,
-119.528247
Carpinteria Bluffs690Carpinteria Bluffs Trail to Carpinteria Seal Sanctuary Overlook
This short hike goes from Carpinteria Bluffs Nature Preserve to a viewing area above a harbor seal rookery, offering beach access and beautiful oceanfront hiking.
1 - 2 miles
25 - 100 feet
34.386929,
-119.498625

View Central Coast trails and campgrounds in a larger map
Or explore hikes around Santa Barbara County on the Hike Finder Map
hikespeak
Old Prospector Trail Pond Trail Loop Irish Hills Natural Area San Luis Obispo Prospector Hill Hike
Today the Irish Hills are like a gold mine for hikers, but the small mountain range in San Luis Obispo historically hosted several mines for chromium and mercury. The ruins of one of these mines can be visited on Old Prospector Trail, which opened in 2015 to join the growing group of trails in Irish Hills Natural Reserve. This hikers-only single track starts in Froom... Read more.
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Distance: 4.4 miles – Elevation change: 650 feet
By: hikespeak Last updated: March 18, 2015
Visit Montaña de Oro State Park Hiking Trails San Luis Obispo California
Montaña de Oro State Park has dramatic ocean bluffs and summits with sweeping views. The park covers over 8,000 acres and has 7 miles of undeveloped coastline, making it a rare treasure on the California Coast. There is one road into the park, entering from the north from the town of Los Osos, which is just west of the city of San Luis Obispo. For those staying... Read more.
By: hikespeak Last updated: February 9, 2015
Cuesta Ridge Botanical Area hike West Cuesta Ridge Road San Luis Obispo Los Padres National Forest Cuesta Ridge Trail
Discover a tucked-away oasis of Sargent cypress straddling a ridge in the Santa Lucia Mountains north of San Luis Obispo. The evergreens are accompanied by coastal views that could have you imagining you're somewhere further north in California. The hike to Cuesta Ridge Botanical Special Interest Area is 6 miles round trip up a partially paved road with 950 feet of... Read more.
By: hikespeak Last updated: February 7, 2015
Inspiration Point Tunnel Road Hike Tunnel Trail Jesusita Trail Inspiration Viewpoint Santa Barbara California Santa Ynez Mountains Mission Canyon
Located in the Santa Ynez Mountains, 1,800-feet above the Santa Barbara Coast, Inspiration Point attracts hikers with panoramic views over city and sea. Two routes lead to this picturesque perch. If you want to make a day of it, you can approach the viewpoint from the west on a moderate 7.55-mile round trip trek up Jesusita Trail to Inspiration Point from San Roque Road. ... Read more.
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Distance: 3.75 miles – Elevation change: 825 feet
By: hikespeak Last updated: January 28, 2015
Coon Creek Trail Montaña de Oro State Park hike Coon Creek Canyon Montana de Oro San Luis Obispo California
Coon Creek Trail explores a coastal canyon at the south end of Montaña de Oro State Park. The trail heads inland for 2.5 miles to a pleasant grove of Monterey cypress at the site of an old homestead that has since disappeared. Take a break in the shade of the cypress trees before turning around for a 5-mile round trip hike with 250 feet of elevation gain. Junctions... Read more.
By: hikespeak Last updated: February 23, 2015