Explore the most popular forest 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.

Beautiful views, nice easy afternoon hike.

hiking
13 days ago

Great quick hike with a bit of elevation

It’s hard . Take a lot of water , good shoes and protect your hands. The map little confuse but you will figure out . I would like to that again! It worst it .

Fun hike

hiking
24 days ago

Excellent. A little tiring once you pass the private property water fuel up (I’m in average shape). That stretch and the switchbacks had me zapped! Parts of the trail are pretty narrow, and flowering plants line them (read: bees!). Lots of bees. It was not a problem for me, but if you are allergic, keep this in mind! There’s not a lot of avoiding them.

Views at the top are amazing. Once the trail ends, keep going down the utility road when you see power lines. You’ll see a little sub trail off to the right that leads to inspiration point.

When in doubt, keep going up!

rock climbing
24 days ago

My favorite hike of all time. Very challenging but VERY fun, I have yet to find another like it.

hiking
1 month ago

This is a great hike, my first one in Santa Barbara. There were times where I felt like I was so isolated I could be in another country, in the forest, and I loved that. It was difficult for me, cannot speak for all but there were some parts where the path is very small. There are some really beautiful views. If you go to UCSB, extra plus because you can see campus from the top.

There is another reviewer, Olek K., that is 100% correct in warning you about the difficulty of this trail.

This is the hardest hike in SB, but also the most rewarding.

Bring 2+ liters of water, sunscreen for before and at the top of the trail, a hat, clothes that you are alright with sweating through completely, and good hiking shoes.

Start out on the trail by 9:00 AM in the Summer or risk getting fatigued by the heat. Or start out at 4:30 PM in June/July and get a bit of natural shade on the way up.

Don't bring your dog, unless your dog's a goat.

hiking
1 month ago

It was the first my trail in Santa Barbara . Love it. Little more that 7 ml. It took me 3:15 hrs. I’m an active person and I cannot say it was hard for me . Was a nice sunny day and the view was gorgeous !

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.

on Parma Park Trail

2 months ago

Beautiful, fragrant and nice hills. Beauty

hiking
2 months 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.

hiking
3 months 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
3 months 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
3 months 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
3 months ago

kool hike friendly vibe easy access to parking✌

Closed due to the mud slides

hiking
4 months ago

This is a great long hike. Especially nice that dogs can be off leash. Winds through nice forest and cool scenery before making it to the top of inspiration point. Parking access is definitely easier than the inspiration point hike.

hiking
4 months ago

5 stars, good hike with some fun rocks, lots of people on the first parts of the trail and too hard to find parking

lost the trail a couple times, gps is helpful if you dont know the trails

hiking
5 months ago

Not Easy! And more than 3 miles. Logged 70 floors because of the extreme elevation changes. Beautiful views. Probs not kid friendly.

I originally planned on hiking the Gaviota Peak Trail but two cars were broken into when I got to the parking lot. Hide your valuables. I wasn’t let down when I decided to do Sweetwater Trail. I also did Vista Point and all the side trails. Sunset was incredible. This hike exceeded my expectations.

hiking
6 months ago

This is one of my favorite hikes in Santa Barbara. The pools and the water in the creek is not reliable, however I always really enjoy a good creek bed hike. The trail is narrow and there is lots of climbing over rocks but not challenging for an athlete and a super fun ascent. Be forewarned to get down to the pools your choices are to hop the rocks in the creek bed or to take the trail along the creek bed and use a rope to sort of wrap hell yourself down and incredibly dirt steep hill. All in good fun.

loved it went after it rained

hiking
7 months ago

it is a good trail but not recomended for little kids cause there are dengerous clifs.

I’ll second everything Olek wrote beneath my review.

The hiking part of this trail ends where the river bed begins and then becomes a full on scramble/boulder hopping/mild rock climbing slog.

The trail is hard to pick up from the stream bed. I found google maps worked better for me than the AllTrails map...

If you find yourself walking more than 100 yards up the stream you’re going the wrong way. You have to go back and cross the stream bed and head through the bush. It can get confusing because (as others have written) there are many side trails.

Near the top of Arlington the trail becomes kinda elusive... you could just boulder your way to the top or find a place to hang and eat lunch.

This would be a hot hike in warm weather so if you’re out there in 80 degrees + bring a ton of water/Gatorade/snacks.

With all that said it’s a great “hike” with great views.

hiking
7 months ago

Very simple hike!

hiking
7 months ago

Lovely hike with varied terrain to Inspiration Point which lives up to it’s name. We saw 4 Channel Islands. Good signage at junctions to avoid wrong turns. If you drive a sedan to the filtration plant lot, be sure to park on the right side. The left side has a high curb and will scrape the bottom of your car. SUV’s do great.

This trail is ok, nothing to exciting. Also I don't know if I would rate it "moderate" it seems to be more comparable to other "easy" trails. There are a couple of short hills but not that steep, the rest is relatively flat. There are a couple of views of the lake, but not as many as you would expect. To re-iterate another hikers comment: Free parking if you start at vista point.

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