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Red Rocks to Gibraltar Dam Trail

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Los Padres National Forest

Red Rocks to Gibraltar Dam Trail is a 6.5 mile heavily trafficked loop trail located near Santa Barbara, California that features a lake and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

Distance: 6.5 miles Elevation Gain: 830 feet Route Type: Loop

dogs on leash

hiking

mountain biking

nature trips

bird watching

running

forest

lake

views

wild flowers

hiking
bugs
muddy
21 hours ago

I always have fun treading through water. Be extremely careful going through the water crossings there is a lot of slippery algae on the rocks.

hiking
1 month ago

Awesome spot. You can hike the road then back on the trail. Some cool areas to chill. Some big carp.

hiking
fee
over grown
rocky
1 month ago

Hiked Memorial Weekend. Get there early due to the intense UV and heat. Wear sturdy shoes; lots of loose rocks and large rocks to hike thru. Plan on getting up to your knees wet several times during this hike. Wear hiking pants if you’re concerned about poison oak. If you know what you’re looking for it is easy enough to avoid it and wear shorts. Started out going clockwise. Multiple creek crossings that often times make the trail hard to find again. Trails is on both sides of the creek. Any of the water holes offer a good place to grab shade and rest. No loitering and trespassing signs all over at the dam. You can take the fire road back continuing clockwise which is much faster and shorter. Or make it an in and out for 7.0 mile hike. Will hike again.

hiking
bugs
fee
off trail
over grown
rocky
1 month ago

This was a good trail. It’s definitely an outdoor hike. U will be getting your feet wet to get to the pools. The highest pool crossing of water u may go is knee deep. Make sure to have hiking shoes or water shoes. The first pool crossing we did get lost. We could not find the trail. Luckily, this man came and was going fishing so he lead us to the trail and gave us a nature lesson. It was great! Wear protective clothing. Lots of poison oak. From the first pool crossing it was almost 3 miles to the big pool. We swam in that one. If you want to go all the way there it’s about 11 pool crossing. It’s well worth it. We didn’t make it to the dam. Would come up to this hike again.

hiking
bugs
no shade
1 month ago

We went to the old quicksilver mine, 6.7 miles out. First part to dam is no shade, after dam make sure to go through the iron gate past the green water tower. It’s far.... but really pretty oasis at the Mine. Get up early for this one.

hiking
bugs
over grown
rocky
1 month ago

hiking
3 months ago

Easy, pleasant hike. Mostly flat. After the river crossing where there’s more grass along the trail, saw a lot of tiny tics on the edge of the tall grass blades. The river was fun to rock hop across. Beautiful water for taking a dip. Overall, great besides the tics.

hiking
4 months ago

We followed the red rocks trail in and the high road trail back, using a shortcut to circumvent the lengthy downhill of the last part of the high road trail. The shortcut trail was narrow and we encountered a big rattlesnake about halfway down. It did not move very far off the trail and kept rattling. I suspect it may have a nest near the trail. Just something to watch out for.

hiking
rocky
8 months ago

Great trail, some great views and nice pools on the side. Two things though: as previous reviewers have stated, it can be difficult to stay on the trail on the first half when it crosses the river bed. I was glad I had the AllTrails map and my gps signal on Google Maps. The second thing is that there is basically no access to the dam; we expected to rest and picnic there, but it’s not accessible to the public, and the second part of the trail is not great for sitting down. So plan on stopping at the pools or doing the trail the other way around.

hiking
10 months ago

Hiked the loop counter clockwise, which was good to get the elevation climb out of the way in the beginning, so the second half felt easy. The first half is forest service road, with no shade, and it was 85 degrees out... bring A LOT of water. I hike with my dogs and they EACH drank 2 liters on the first half of the hike. The second half they just drank from pools left from the Santa Ynez river, which is not flowing right now, but the pools are big/deep enough to swim in though. The trail on the second half is not overgrown, and easy to find most of the time except when it crosses the river bed, because sometimes the trail goes down the river bed a little ways before being back up on the shore where it’s easy to follow. Good shoes are a must, lots of uneven footing from the rocks in the river bed. No cell phone service out there, so come prepared too. The loop basically ends at the Red Rock swimming hole, which is packed on weekends, I’d advise to go on a weekday.

mountain biking
bugs
no shade
off trail
over grown
rocky
scramble
washed out
11 months ago

For walking, maybe. First half of trail is thick overgrown brush, easy to lose trail and get lost. A lot through creek beds or through tons of rocks and small boulders. We pushed, pulled, dropped and threw our bikes down the first half of the trail. The second half is fire road. By the time we got there, even w packing lots of water, we were about out and starting to conserve and overheat. Just also note the swimming holes before the reservoir are nice if there is water (there was), but despite the ranger saying we could swim in the reservoir and pool before it, you can’t. Bottom line, this is NOT a loop trail. Do not try pushing your bike through the hiking trail loop. Oh, and yes...buckets of poison oak and mites that came home with us and itch like hell. Good luck w this one. Caveat Emptor

hiking
over grown
scramble
Fri Jun 21 2019

We went out on the river trail and back on the road to the dam. The river is high this year and we kept loosing the trail. We had six or seven water crossings and only a few had cairns to help you find your way. Weather was perfect at 71 degrees with some nice breezes.

hiking
bugs
over grown
Fri Jun 07 2019

First time hiking this trail. Took the river side in and the fire road out. The river side was swarming with flies and other biting/flying bugs, wish we would have used a bug spray. Definitely recommend light long sleeves and pants. Lots of high growth and poison oak. The trail is not well marked in many areas. We had to do some guessing. After 5ish river crossings on rocks, we eventually decided to wade through the remaining crossings. Temps were high enough to dry off quickly, approaching 100 degrees around noon. Fire road was well worn and easy to navigate, as a fire road should be. Some reviews stated that there was water, benches, picnic area, etc. There was little to no shade on that side of the trail, one bench, and no water. Overall it was a beautiful adventure but I do wish we had been better prepared with bug spray, more clothing coverage because of overgrowth, and a touch more water. 40 oz each wasn't enough, we could have used a hydration pack.

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