Lizards Mouth Santa Barbara

Lizard’s Mouth is a mountain top rock formation overlooking Santa Barbara. Wind-carved pockets on the underside of this sandstone outcropping give the rock a resemblance to a frog or lizard’s mouth. The short hike to Lizard’s Mouth offers sensational views and is a quick excursion for anyone traveling the 154 between Santa Barbara and Lake Cachuma or Los Olivos.

A path from West Camino Cielo meanders through boulders and brush, heading slightly uphill to a clear spot overlooking Santa Barbara. Although there are a few overlapping paths, they all lead to the same place. Turn right and ascend the slope of sandstone that forms the lizard’s back. When the side of Lizard’s Mouth becomes visible, either climb over the rocks to get to it, or continue along the path as it swings around to the destination.

Lizard's Mouth
Lizard’s Mouth

An opening beneath the overhang makes for a good turnaround point. Climb up on the “lizard” and take in the panoramic views. The route back to the trailhead is the same and a bit easier to follow in reverse.

Lizard’s mouth offers a half-mile stroll with optional rock scrambling and obligatory views of Santa Barbara and the Pacific Ocean. The trail runs adjacent to the Winchester Canyon Gun Club so be prepared to hear gunfire as you hike, especially on weekends. No fee or permit is required, so get out and enjoy.

Lizard's Mouth
Lizard’s Mouth

To get to the trailhead: From Highway 101 west of downtown Santa Barbara, exit on Highway 154 and head north into the Santa Ynez Mountains. After 7 miles, turn left onto West Camino Cielo (if you reach the East Camino Cielo or the top of the mountain pass, you have gone to far).

Off Highway 154, West Camino Cielo makes an immediate right before winding up to the top of the ridge. Take this road for 3.5 miles and enjoy the views over Santa Barbara. The trailhead is on the left side of the road a few hundred feet before the Winchester Canyon Gun Club. When you reach the gun club or the point where the road becomes unpaved, turn around and backtrack to the roadside parking near the trailhead. A wooden board next to a tree (and a brown pipe on the ground) mark the start of the trail to Lizard’s Mouth.

Trailhead address: West Camino Cielo (Forest Route 5N12), Los Padres National Forest, Santa Barbara, CA 93105
Trailhead coordinates: 34.503055, -119.86569 (34° 30′ 10.99″N 119° 51′ 56.48″W)

Elevation Profile
Click or hover over any spot on this elevation profile to see the distance from the start and elevation above sea level at that location, which will be highlighted on the map.
Trail Map

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These photos were taken in March of 2010. Click to enlarge.
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Tagged with · Free Trails · Los Padres National Forest · Ocean Views · Santa Ynez Mountains
Distance: 0.5 miles · Elevation change: 25 feet

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12 Comments on Lizard’s Mouth in Los Padres National Forest

  1. Brian A. Davis wrote:

    Are dogs allowed on this trail? Thanks!

  2. Audrey Reinacher wrote:

    Jamie Burns we need to check this out this summer!

    • Jamie Burns wrote:

      I just saw this! I’ve been here before, but it’s been a long time! I don’t think they had trail markers then. We actually spent the night there one time! We should go sometime!

  3. aimee wrote:

    Is this hike kid friendly? would it be safe for a 4 and 6 year old at this elevation? The walk looks like it would work, but I want to make sure there is enough room for kids to explore without….

    • James Ian Gengenbacher, CAC wrote:

      It’s not only “KID” friendly, it’s a “Kids” Best friend
      and playground. There is lots of really cool small caves the kids will remember this place Forever. One really cool spot is a small tunnel 10 or 12 foot long. 2 to 2 1/2 ft diameter tunnel. Some spots they can stick their head out of the rock. Wrap a Scarf around Neck bring fake blood and other Halloween make up so it will look like a Deadman’s Head on a Rock. Taller people can put their head out one hole, foot out another and hand out another.
      One of my Favorite I call “The Condo”. It is a 5′ x 5′ x 5′ Cave with its face and one side gone, directly above it is another carved out pocket 5′ x 5′ x 5′ facing 90 degree.
      There is about 10 or 12 Caves which fit one to 6 people.
      Most of these Rocks aka Outcrops range in Height from 2 to 8 feet. about 15% are up to 10 feet and only 2% about 3 to 4 Spots are up to 18 foot.
      The walk (not hike) is only 5 minutes or less from the Road to the Rocks.
      It has a very nice view of the UCSB Campus and the Houses and small apartments known as Isle Vista. Santa Barbara City is actually not really viewable from Lizards Rock since it faces West but the City of Santa Barbara is South of it.
      When you get done at Lizards Mouth take the Kids, small young ones and Old Tall ones to Cold Springs Tavern that is only 15 minutes away from Lizards Mouth. They have Venison, Crocodile, Armadillo, Ostrich, Buffalo, Crown Rack of Lamb and normal beef, chicken or veggie meals at very reasonable prices. The exotic meals vary with availability and season.they also have wine bottles 15 or 20 bucks up to very exotic and expensive.
      At about 1 to 2 hours before sunset they have live music outside of the Restaurant and Bar. These old Buildings were once used by the Stage Coach Driver, Scout, Guard, and Passengers. A natural spring brings cold water out 9f the Rocks and becomes a creek then spills to gully then gulch. The stage coach would stop here near top of the trail through the mountains so they could rest and water the horses for the Stage Coach. In Back of the Restaurant is a small shack that 4 passengers would sleep in. It is only 6′ tall, and room was 6′ x 8′. But from outside it looks only just a little bigger than an outhouse. Have fun, I know the Kids young and old will.

  4. Kal wrote:

    I hate the advertising of these local spots. Ruins it. Why advertise for children? Jeez. I won’t ever go there again. Another paradise lost

  5. Jared Herrera wrote:

    Can u ride mountain bikes out there??

    • James Ian "Fearless" Gengenbacher, CAC, REA wrote:

      you could ride nearby. even could get to top of lizards mouth. but you would need to carry the bike over a few spots 10-20 feet that are too rocky.

  6. […] Head up Highway 154 to explore the ruins of Knapp’s Castle and boulder your way through Lizard’s Mouth. […]