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
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Rattlesnake Flats Trail - Badger Trail - Bluff Trail Loop Montaña de Oro State Park Hike
Completely resurfaced to be wheelchair-friendly, the Bluff Trail in Montaña de Oro State Park is one of the most pleasant coastal trails in California. Once you have hiked the Bluff Trail, you will probably want to see it again (and again and again). Revisit the Bluff Trail and get just a bit more elevation by creating a loop with Bluff Trail, Badger Trail, and... Read more.
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Tagged with · California State Parks · Free Trails · Los Osos · Ocean Views · Tide Pools · Montaña de Oro State Park
Distance: 1.65 miles – Elevation change: 150 feet
By: Published: Last updated: March 16, 2016
China Flat Trail Simi Peak Trail Simi Hills hike Oak Park California China Flat Dead Cow Trail Suicide Trail Loop Oak Savanna
Looking up at the orange sandstone outcroppings on the rugged slopes of the Simi Hills, you would hardly expect the terrain above to host a peaceful oak savanna. Walk through this grassy area shade by tall oaks to ascend to Simi Peak, the highest point in a mountain range that spans the boundary between Ventura County and Los Angeles County just north of the 101 Freeway. ... Read more.
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Tagged with · Conejo Valley · Free Trails · Oak Park · Simi Hills · Summits · Dog-Friendly Trails · Mountain Biking Trails
Distance: 6.2 miles – Elevation change: 1090 feet
By: Published: Last updated: April 25, 2016
Gaviota State Park Campground Santa Barbara area Gaviota California beach camping Gaviota SP Campground
Pack the tent and your flip-flops when you visit the campground at Gaviota State Park. Each site is ambling distance from a sandy beach along the scenic coast west of Santa Barbara. A railroad trestle, pier, and hiking trails are close to the campground, which is just off Highway 101, making it a convenient place to camp near the ocean. About 30 miles west of Santa... Read more.
By: Published: Last updated: May 18, 2016
East Cuesta Ridge Road Mount Lowe Road Santa Lucia Mountain East Cuesta Ridge Hike San Luis Obispo
East Cuesta Ridge Road, also known as Mount Lowe Road, is a dirt road that crosses the dominant ridgeline in the Santa Lucia Mountains northeast of San Luis Obispo. Views from the trail extend over San Luis Obispo and its surrounding peaks toward the ocean to the west at Morro Bay and to the south by Oceano Dunes. The hike starts just off Highway 101 at the top of Cuesta... Read more.
By: Published: Last updated: April 3, 2016
Stenner Creek Trail Red Dog Trail Poly Canyon Road Loop San Luis Obispo Eucs Hike
Above Stenner Creek Road near the Cal Poly Campus, a freestyle bike course is hidden within a eucalyptus grove. The easiest route to The Eucs is to head up and back on Stenner Creek Trail. For a longer hike that explores neighboring grassland on slopes below the Santa Lucia Mountains, consider this 4.25-mile loop with 550 feet of elevation change. This hike takes Stenner... Read more.
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Tagged with · Cal Poly · Creeks · Free Trails · Santa Lucia Mountains
Distance: 4.25 miles – Elevation change: 550 feet
By: Published: Last updated: January 4, 2016