*Editor’s note: Due to recent rainfall levels, Los Padres National Forest is currently closed until March 14, 2023, out of an abundance of caution. Before going, please confirm the trail is open and safe for hiking. Please check the Los Padres National Forest, California State Parks, Santa Barbara County Parks, and City of Santa Barbara Parks websites for the most current information.
Santa Barbara hiking trails offer outdoor lovers plenty of options for terrain and scenery. The Santa Ynez Mountain range is one of only two in the world that runs east to west, eventually spilling into the ocean on the breathtaking Gaviota Coast. So throw the necessities in your backpack and hit the trail because the view is about to get incredible.
Santa Barbara Hiking Trails
Choose from several trails that wind along flowing creeks shaded by California bay, sycamore and oak tree forests before you eventually peak out above the canopy where chaparral-choked mountainsides sweep across the entire range. Catch sight of Santa Barbara’s red tile roofs, white sand beaches, and the Pacific beyond it with breathtaking, panoramic views.
You’ll find plenty of amazing vistas from the top of Inspiration Point, whose trailhead is located a short distance north of the Santa Barbara Bowl. For beautiful views of an 80-foot tall waterfall, check out the short but rewarding hike at Nojoqui Falls. Or, to pair some fresh air with an appreciation of local flora, head to the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden, where the Porter Trail will provide expansive views of the area.
Hiking in the Santa Ynez Mountains
Those who reach the top of the Santa Ynez Mountains are rewarded with more stunning views to the east and northeast showing off Santa Barbara’s backcountry and the vast Los Padres National Forest.
Some of the trails that lead to the spine of the range include Tunnel, Cold Springs, San Ysidro and Romero Canyon. This rugged wilderness is fortified in sandstone and inviting trails that lead all the way to New Cuyama. The backcountry is a backpacker’s dream where lonely trails lead to remote campsites, solitude and discovery, a piece of Santa Barbara experienced by just a few.
Channel Islands Hiking
And don’t forget the Channel Islands National Park as a premier hiking destination. The five islands; Santa Barbara, Anacapa, Santa Cruz, Santa Rosa and San Miguel, all have unbelievable trails leading to amazing wildlife, rare forests, and jaw-dropping scenery. It’s only a short boat ride away to a part of California that is as captivating today as it was 200 years ago.