Explore the most popular birding trails near Santa Barbara with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

hiking
15 days ago

On the last day of my three day camping trip with Wilderness Adventures, most people opted for a 2.5 hour kayaking trip to the sea caves around the island. However, I chose to stay on dry land and do a hike to Smuggler’s Cove, a delightful harbor on the back side of the island that got its name from the illegal sea otter trade that took place between 1769 and 1848. It was one of the most beautiful hikes I’ve ever done. Just two hours out and an hour and a half back, this hike wove through a cypress grove, named Delphine’s Grove, grassy hills with purple clover, yellow mustard, and white and pink morning glories, Monkey Flower, Lemonade Berry, Santa Cruz Ironwood, and many other native plants on this island. The final mile of the hike was down, down, down to the sea. At the beach, we saw island foxes and lizards darting around, both of which are prevalent throughout the island. The island fox, deer mouse, and island spotted skunk are only found on the Channel Islands – and nowhere else in the world

The descent to the Cove was pretty steep and I wondered as I walked down, how I was going to feel climbing back up it. Well it was well worth it – it was such a beautiful beach and quite a dazzling vantage point in every direction. Climbing back up the hill reminded me of the Hobbit story with its rolling green hills and the light brown-red dirt on the paths. It looked like a fairytale to me.

The hike was just short of eight mikes, roundtrip, but the views from the top, coming back to Scorpion Bay were sensational. It was rejuvenating to see everything from the top of the island. This was a hike that I would like to do again.

I went last Sunday and the gate leading to the trail was closed and it was 9 miles from the gate to where the hike started. Does anyone know if it is open yet?

walking
15 days ago

Great running spot with awesome bluffs. Stick to the main trails right now, don't venture onto smaller overgrown ones. My dog and I spent about 10-15 mins on a smaller trail and she ended up getting 70+ ticks! It's prime season right now, not usually this badat all.

Fun trail and nice views. If you hike all the way to the burn area on the other side of cachuma near the closed campground then it's almost 12 miles round trip.

hiking
21 days ago

Great hike, took about 1:15min to get to Gibralter Rd from the base. Mostly covered by trees until after the meadow or sign pointing towards the road.

Steep and gravely first miles levels out but steep about 3/4 mile from smugglers cove.

There are picnic tables at the cove

Nice hike can be windy

POISON OAK AND TICKS SO MANY TICKS.

on Parma Park Trail

28 days ago

Beautiful, fragrant and nice hills. Beauty

1 month ago

Good moderate hike. Some sun exposure so depending on your comfort pick an early time!

Beautiful views but it’s not a hike

hiking
1 month ago

I started from Stevens park and the trail takes you all the way to the shooting range..it was a loooooong and grueling walk I wouldn’t recommend this trail for somebody that is going by themselves (like what I did) the first hour was fine then you start having to go uphill for the next hour or so and in some parts the trail cuts off into actually wooded areas where it feels like you are going off the trail but it is the actual trail...it feels like the trail just goes on and on then you get to a point where the trail is blocked by a bunch of bushes where you have to crawl through the bush to get past it...and from that point it took me about an hour to reach the shooting range...overall it took me about 4 hours to get through it but that’s because the trail side tracked me where I had to retrace my steps...but if everything would of went smoothly the hike would take about 3 1/2 hours to complete...my phone died when I was trying to record my journey through this trail but it captured most of it...I definitely recommend this to a group that’s avid hikers this is definitely an expert trail and DO NOT GO ALONE!!!!!

hiking
1 month ago

It was my first time hiking in the Santa Barbara area and I really liked this hike. I think it could have been a 5 star hike if I had hiked it on a clear day.

Parking- we easily found parking along the side of the road on the right side near the trailhead...which is on the left side of the road

Trail- the sign at the start states that the trail is 4.2 miles with 641 ft of elevation gain...not sure what that is based on, but if you are like me and wish to take this trail to Inspiration Point and back it was 7.1 miles for me with an elevation gain of 1,600 ft...so quite a bit of difference there; the trail is easy to follow and the first 1.5 goes north and sticks close to the creek and the water was running with some recent rain; the trail then leaves the trees and heads in a NE direction through a more open sort of grassland area and you will cross a road and some private property nearby and then the incline kicks in for the final mile or so with some switchbacks up to Inspiration Point...which I didn't see any signs but I had my app to verify we had made it there and there were some other hikers there already but sadly there was no view to enjoy since it was an extremely overcast and foggy morning (4/2/18) and visibility was maybe 200 yards so there was no view of the ocean or island sadly; the hike was green, with the sound of running water for most of the time, and great views of the mountains to the northeast...I just wished we could have seen the ocean...FYI dogs are allowed on this trail off leash which doesn't bother me but might bother some

*the second half of the hike we really worked up a sweat not only because it was steeper but it was very humid and there was a light mist/drizzle

Of course bring plenty of water and hiking shoes or shoes with good traction, trekking poles are not needed for this hike. Plan on this hike taking about 3-4 hours. I would rate this as moderately difficult.

1 month ago

Not great for hiking. Good bike ruts. Pretty views.

hiking
1 month ago

I did the full trail today. After the bench, it does get VERY overgrown, so much so that there are several moments you're unsure if you should keep going. But it was definitely worth it. There is a rock past the bench, to stand on you can see miles and miles in every direction. The heart thumping portion comes as you get closer to sea level though, and climbing back up was certainly a cardio workout (especially after I saw a snake and was hightailing it faster). If you have faith, you can find the trail after losing it every time, and the trail ultimately ends in a gorgeous rocky creek that winds all the way back to foothill road. Total time 3 hours.

hiking
1 month ago

I went on a very misty/foggy day so the views at the top of Inspiration point weren't that great, but the journey there and back made up for it! Lots of ravines, boulders, wooded streams, and then the winding turns making your way up the mountain made for a great walk. The last mile or two have very little shade so bring sun protection and plenty of water.

We hiked this today! Awesome views. Didn’t see a soul out there. Looks like a lot of people bike this trail. Costs $10 to get into lake recreation area.

hiking
1 month ago

This is a great hike if you're looking for a moderately difficult hike, nothing fancy. Parts of it are challenging enough to make you sweat, it's easy to follow, and there's a rewarding view at the top. We hiked it midday on a Friday and the trail wasn't too busy. It's very well marked. The creeks were flowing and the foliage was lush, but this is early April so I expect it will be dry as a bone later in the summer. Speaking of foliage, there's a ton of poison oak so keep an eye out if you have little ones. My 4 little guys (ages 4-9) hiked it no problem, tho we had to constantly remind them to avoid the poison oak. Parking was really easy too, just along the road opposite the filtration plant. I'd recommend starting early and packing plenty of water.

definitely on the easier side of moderate

hiking
1 month ago

We had a lot of fun on Santa Cruz. The hike is steep at the beginning but levels off for most of the hike. We brought sandwiches with us and had lunch at smugglers cove. Beware the ravens and foxes looking for food. To switch it up we came back by the oil well.

Great views. Too many people and unleashed dogs for my liking though.

hiking
1 month ago

I’ve loved this trail for years. It is enough of a challenge to make you feel like you accomplished something. I love the pace of it and the carried terrain. If it has rained you might find some mud, but the creek will be flowing and provide amazing acoustics for your hike. I love to do this with friends and even the preteens like this one! Highly recommend, and start at the water treatment if you want to cut it to 6.6 miles and about 1500’ of elevation.

hiking
1 month ago

Very beautiful view! Easy to walk to.

hiking
2 months ago

kool hike friendly vibe easy access to parking✌

hiking
2 months ago

Very nice hike. Great views throughout. Pretty wide trail with a moderate incline. Saw the biggest snake of my life on the trail.

walking
2 months ago

This is one of my favorite go-to trails. My favorite aspect is that much of this trail is shaded, alongside ease of parking, a 3 mile RT, and (for me) it is close to home.

love it. take the connector trail on the fire road near the start it's a great view steep....straight up...

hiking
2 months ago

Very nice short afternoon hike with spectacular Views over Santa Barbara

I would not rate this hike as “hard” was more like a moderate. Distance was a bit longer than AllTrails stated..Great hike to do in moderate temps as there would not be x lot of shade in the summer months. A fire break line has been cleared up most of the trail which I would assume would have been used during the Thomas fire if needed. Kind of unattractive right now but the plus side is that you don’t have to worry about poison oak and ticks and the views are still fabulous.

I believe it's closed as when you use the "directions" feature, there is no route.

Closed due to the mud slides

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