Hikes in Santa Barbara County

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 are the Santa Ynez Mountains. This east-west range is part of Los Padres National Forest and forms a beautiful green backdrop for Santa Barbara. Many great trails run 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.

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.

Santa Barbara Hiking

This collection of trails around Santa Barbara, California lists the hikes from west to east. 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 directions, photos, GPS maps, elevation profiles, 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.

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
34.5046,
-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
34.5046,
-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
34.5046,
-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
34.47172,
-120.2297
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
34.5525,
-119.9565
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
34.50448,
-119.78773
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
34.503055,
-119.86569
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.
875 feet
34.45605,
-119.6533
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,
-119.6533
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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Reservoir Canyon Trail Summit Trail Loop San Luis Obispo Hike Bowden Ranch Reservoir Canyon Open Space
If you've hiked up the hill east of downtown San Luis Obispo on Reservoir Canyon Trail or Summit Trail, you've probably pondered the prospect of connecting the two hikes in order to spend more time enjoying grand views over San Luis Obispo County. Follow Reservoir Canyon Trail up to a stone bench viewpoint, cross Ridge Trail to an old tower housing a bell, and descend... Read more.
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Tagged with · Free Trails · Summits
Distance: 5.6 miles · Elevation change: 1350 feet
By: Published: Last updated: July 13, 2017
Reservoir Canyon Summit Trail San Luis Obispo Hike to High School Hill Tower Bowden Ranch Open Space
You'll give a ringing endorsement to this San Luis Obispo hike! Reservoir Canyon's Summit Trail ascends to sweeping panoramas over San Luis Obispo and an old tower with a bell that you can ring with a pebble. The hike from Reservoir Canyon to the High School Hill Tower is 4.1 miles round trip with 1,175 feet of elevation change. Expand your horizons from there by... Read more.
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Tagged with · Free Trails · Summits
Distance: 4.1 miles · Elevation change: 1175 feet
By: Published: Last updated: July 13, 2017
Hazard Peak Bloody Nose Trail Hiedra Trail Hazard Peak Trail Hike Montaña de Oro State Park Hike California
The panoramic summit of Hazard Peak in Montaña de Oro State Park has excellent coastal views. Hazard Peak Trail is the most obvious route to the top and a great choice, rising to the 1,076-foot summit over 3 miles. A junction partway up Hazard Peak Trail makes it possible to add a couple other trails to the approach. Bloody Nose Trail and Hiedra Trail are a combined... Read more.
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Tagged with · California State Parks · Free Trails · Irish Hills · Los Osos · Ocean Views · Montaña de Oro State Park
Distance: 5.55 miles · Elevation change: 950 feet
By: Published: Last updated: May 20, 2017
South Dune Trail Bloody Nose Trail Hiedra Trail Hazard Peak Trail Loop Montaña de Oro State Park Hike Hiedra Trail Loop Los Osos California
Hikes in Montaña de Oro State Park travel along the coast or delve inland into canyons and up peaks. If you want a mix of hiking environments, consider this four-trail loop, which combines South Dune Trail, Bloody Nose Trail, Hiedra Trail, and Hazard Peak Trail for a 2 2/3 mile round trip hike with a little over 300 feet of elevation change. This loop can be added to the... Read more.
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Tagged with · California State Parks · Free Trails · Irish Hills · Los Osos · Ocean Views · Montaña de Oro State Park
Distance: 2.67 miles · Elevation change: 310 feet
By: Published: Last updated: May 20, 2017
Rinconada Trail Hike Santa Lucia Mountains Los Padres National Forest Bell Mountain Rinconada Hiking Trail Santa Margarita California
Rising through grassy meadows, oak woodlands, and chaparral slopes, Rinconada Trail provides North County access to the Santa Lucia Mountains in Los Padres National Forest. Gaze over bucolic valleys on the hike up to a high point in a grassy mountain pass with views over remote ridges and canyons in the Santa Lucia Wilderness. Turn around at an overlook by the crest of... Read more.
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Tagged with · Free Trails · Los Padres National Forest · Santa Lucia Mountains · Santa Margarita · Summits
Distance: 3 miles · Elevation change: 625 feet
By: Published: Last updated: June 1, 2017