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Los Padres Tunnel Trail

HARD 67 reviews
#29 of 179 trails in

Los Padres Tunnel Trail is a 7.5 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Santa Barbara, California that features a waterfall and is rated as difficult. The trail is primarily used for hiking, trail running, horses, and mountain biking and is best used from September until June. Dogs and horses are also able to use this trail.

Distance: 7.5 miles Elevation Gain: 2,460 feet Route Type: Out & Back

dog friendly

hiking

horseback riding

mountain biking

running

views

waterfall

Directions from Chaparral Ranger Station: Follow the Juniper Canyon Trail 1.2 miles southward to the intersection with Tunnel Trail.

hiking
1 month ago

Trail is well-maintained and, while rocky, doesn’t have any required scrambling like Cathedral Peak. It does provide quite a workout and is a great hike for backpacking training. During the summer, the first couple miles of the trail get really hot by about 9 am; leaving the trailhead at 7 am was noticeably improved over a previous trip that started at 8:30 am. After I approached the intersection with the Rattlesnake Canyon connector, I found on both days that there’s enough of a breeze to remain fairly comfortable. The amount of shade on the trail varies by time of day, as a large part of it comes from the canyon ridge itself, but there are a decent number of trees along the way.

hiking
bugs
no shade
over grown
rocky
scramble
3 months ago

Fairly tough hike but the views were incredible! There is almost no shade so it’s best to go early before it gets hot out. There were several areas where you have to scramble up some pretty steep and rocky areas. There were quite a lot of bugs going up including several sizable swarms of bees during the upper 1/4 of the trail so I wouldn’t recommend going that high if you are severely allergic. Finally, the higher you go the more tight areas with loose dirt there are so I wouldn’t recommend heading to this trail alone (like I did) in case of any slips or falls.

hiking
3 months ago

Took this all the way to Gibraltar. Recent maintenance is making for a very nice trail, especially if you get it while the marine layer provides cloud cover. There is a lot of sun here.

hiking
rocky
3 months ago

Plan your route and know your way as signage is lacking. Stay right for Tunnel. Left for Inspiration Point and try the middle for a quick, steep straitght-up to some unshaded, unimpressive power line towers. Tunnel starts out as a fun, narrow trail with a bit of scrambling, occasional shade, and it's not far (1/2 mile) to some rewarding views and eventually refreshing breeze. I only made it up tunnel a couple miles before I had to turn back due to time. It was a cloudless but hazy day obscuring the opposite side of the bay, but the views of Santa Barbara were worth a pause. Will head to the top next time I get a chance. Ended up with 6 miles (inc Inspiration point) by the time I exited and about 10 oz of 1.5L left of water. would recommend.

hiking
bugs
4 months ago

The trail has great views and can be dog friendly as long as the dog is in sturdy shape. Bring water or leave early if it’s a sunny day, either way it’s beyond doable. I saw a jogger there! It’s a nice and easy training hike if you want to go backpacking since there are some breathtaking places to stop and stretch.

hiking
5 months ago

Good workout and nice hike. A word of caution: Hikers, there are some spots on this trail that are narrow and brushy so that you can’t see or hear a mountain biker approaching. When I hiked this trail, a downhill mountain biker came within inches of plowing into me. We just couldn’t see or hear each other in advance and he was moving fast (despite the jingle bell on the bike). We were both startled and it was too narrow for me to jump out of the way. Lucky he was able to stop as I was thinking “this is going to hurt.” I’m all for mountain biking, just be aware that on this particular trail, I recommend that mountain bikers go slow in brushy areas and blind curves and be prepared to stop on short notice for hikers. While Hikers should listen and look for bikers and be prepared to move quickly out of their way. It’s still a great trail Happy hiking!

hiking
5 months ago

Excellent hike. Beautiful ocean and mountain views, especially with everything being so green and lush right now. There are plenty of wildflowers still in bloom, and interesting rock outcroppings. No water flowing in Mission creek unfortunately, since I always hike with my dogs it’s a bummer when they don’t get fresh creek water. Making sure to bring extra water is key for this hike, it has some good elevation gain after the trail diverges from the Inspiration/Seven Falls trail. I didn’t do the last mile of the hike since I was breaking in new hiking boots today, but the trail that I saw appears to have been freshly cut back so it’s not overgrown at all.

hiking
6 months ago

This is a tough one - which if you add on an additional 1.5 miles on Camino del Cielo - you can make it to the top of La Cumbre Peak and get a total of 12 miles in. Take plenty of water and snacks - the terrain will give you a work out.

hiking
over grown
6 months ago

Great trail if you want a workout! There is a ton of long grass and shrub growth inching onto the trail but it makes it more beautiful than bothersome. Lots of flowers all around! A few streams that cross the path were nice. Parked along the side of the road a bit further from the trail head but there seems to be enough if you get there, as previous posts suggested. Headed to La Cumbre Vista Point via El Camino Cielo road. Had great views of the north side but unfortunately the clouds came in so I couldn’t see Santa Barbara. Wasn’t prepared for the wet mist but glad I brought layers. Bring plenty of h2o!

hiking
8 months ago

This was a fine hike for a holiday Monday! We got to the trailhead around 9:30 and it was already full, so we ended up parking about a half mile down the road. Even with adding a mile roundtrip, and a couple backtracks since we had trouble finding the right trail, our total numbers were 7.10 miles, 2087 ft of elevation gain, and we did it in 3 hours. We didn't go all the way to E Camino Cielo road, we stopped at the waterfalls, which was more of a wet trickle down the rock, despite the recent rains. This trail description wasn't enough for us, but luckily a hiker we met on the trail knew where to go. Here's a quick rundown: Start on Inspiration point trail. Where the paved road turns to dirt, go left. At the next fork, with a sign for Jesusita Trail, take a right, then just go up, up, up, and the trail continues till you hit the "falls." It probably continues past that to the road but we didn't go that far. You should only cross the creek once, over a bridge. If you end up going past that and crossing it a second time, that's more towards Inspiration Point and Seven Falls trail, and you've passed the trail turnoff. It was a beautiful day for the hike, sunny and clear but not too hot, although on hot days you definitely need to bring a LOT of water, since it's almost entirely exposed. Great views of the ocean and the Channel Islands. Trail was in good condition, but there's definitely a lack of signage in this area.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Views are great along the trail. it's a hard trail that is mostly open with no shade. you must take lots of water if you plan to finish the whole main trail. also, hiking shoes would help as it's easy to slide with running shoes.

Saturday, July 21, 2018

I like it. Would not consider it as a hard trail . The best time to be there early morning 7-8 am . You can see how clouds move from mountains to the ocean . Gorgeous! Also , you can see Chanel islands

Monday, July 03, 2017

This was my favorite outta the 9 or 10 Las padres hikes I've done. going up at 10am I ran into the fog which I welcomed. Love watching the mist roll up and over the hills. Parts of the trail are a bit overgrown but still very easy to follow. Once up on the road, I walked around the corner of Gibraltar Rd and you can see the dam. Then I head up the road to la cumbre peak. I looked around for the connector trail for cathedral peak which I may have finally found but it was badly overgrown if it was even the trail so rather than, tempting fate with little water left, I turned around and ran back down to the trailhead. Lost of excellent vantage points even if you don't go to the top.

hiking
Wednesday, January 18, 2017

I'm normally a moderate hiker (my ideal hike is about 6 miles with up to 1500 of elevation) so this was a stretch for me. Note that the directions took us to the end of the trail, not the beginning, so that made it more difficult and confusing. Pros: great views, remote location makes for a great wilderness experience Cons: trail is very rugged, did not seem to be super well maintained. It's a very steep incline either way.

mountain biking
Thursday, August 04, 2016

good riding trail fun super technical good downhill riding

Friday, November 20, 2015

Good workout and plenty of choices on doing a harder trail if wanted. We did it in about 80 degree weather and it was perfect.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Great hike!

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Fun walk. Did it in the early morning when it was in total shade. Beautiful at the top and the 3.8 miles is for the total distance, and isn't quite that long

Friday, March 28, 2014

Sunny and hot on the way in. Amazing trail and trail options once you pass the (now dry) water station.

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