Santa Barbara is a beautiful destination tucked between the Santa Ynez Mountains and the Pacific Ocean. The area is home to roaring waterfalls, towering cliffs, and winding trails, all just waiting to be explored. Put on your hiking boots and get ready to venture into a world of excitement! Here are some of the best hikes in Santa Barbara. Be sure to request your complimentary Vacation Guide for a complete list of places to eat, attractions to see, and things to do during your stay.
Where Are the Best Hikes in Santa Barbara?
Santa Barbara typically has mild temperatures and sunny skies throughout the year, so it’s easy to plan an outdoor adventure in the American Riviera. Here are some of our favorite hiking trails in the area:
1. 7 Falls Trail
The trail is approximately 3 miles round-trip.
When it comes to the best Santa Barbara hikes, 7 Falls Trail should be at the top of your list! To get to the trailhead, you’ll pass the historic Santa Barbara Mission and park on Tunnel Road. Once you arrive, follow the well-marked dirt pathway to the creek. Then, you will need to scale some rocks and wade upstream to get to the falls. If you visit during peak season (December through April), several gorgeous waterfalls await you at the end of your trek.
Tip: Parking is free, but it is limited. We recommend going early to beat the crowds.
2. Inspiration Point
The trail is approximately 3.75 miles round-trip.
The hike to Inspiration Point begins on San Roque Road, crosses over Mission Creek, and leads into Jesusita Trail. Once you reach the summit, enjoy spectacular ocean views. You can even see the Channel Islands! Make sure you plan the timing of your trip accordingly to experience a breathtaking sunset.
Tip: This hike is best enjoyed late in the afternoon when the light turns to a rich honey hue and the trail offers more shade. This trail is dog and mountain bike-friendly.
3. San Ysidro Trail
The trail is approximately 4.4 miles round-trip.
The San Ysidro Trail is one of the most spectacular hiking trails in Santa Barbara with a waterfall. The trailhead is at the end of Mountain Drive, in a residential neighborhood along paved roads. Then, it turns into a dirt trail. As you make your way up the trail, follow along the San Ysidro Creek through a cool canyon. After about two miles, you’ll discover an 80-foot, picture-perfect waterfall. If the pool is full, cool off with a refreshing dip!
Tip: The waterfall is much more impressive after heavy rain than in the dry season.
4. Trespass Trail
The trail is approximately 6.5 miles round-trip.
The Trespass Trail starts in a cul-de-sac just off the 101 freeway in Gaviota State Park. This is a scenic trail that leads up to Gaviota Peak. The trail features stunning views of mountains and the Pacific Ocean. When you hit the peak, you’ll feel victorious. Gaviota Peak is a 2,458-foot summit, making it a prime position for eye-popping views. The surrounding landscape is so pristine and wild; it’s hard to believe you are just a couple miles from a major freeway!
Tip: Trespass Trail is narrow and overgrown. Be sure to wear long pants to protect your legs.
The Cheshire Cat Inn Is Your Hub to Hiking
Gear up for a day of exploring the best hikes in Santa Barbara at the Cheshire Cat Inn. Every morning we serve up a wide array of breakfast foods, including homemade pastries and granola, hard-boiled eggs, and seasonal, fresh fruit.
After your day in the great outdoors, kick back and relax at our inn. Each of our rooms and cottages features modern amenities designed with comfort in mind. Many of our rooms have original fireplaces, sitting areas, and balconies that provide views of the garden or mountains. We are also happy to provide a hot tub room – the Tweedledum Suite. No matter which of our accommodations you choose, we guarantee that you will have an incredible time. We can’t wait to hear all about your Santa Barbara hiking adventures!