Explore the most popular nature trips 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.

Had the cove to myself. Did some off-trail hiking near the cove, a dry riverbed. Great solitude, sweeping vistas. Fox followed me much of the way back.

Beautiful views, nice easy afternoon hike.

Trail has been devastated by fires and floods. Slowly growing back. We had to take a different track because of washouts. Ended up just hiking up to the hot springs water was flowing into a small pool. More warm than hot. Actually Interesting to see the power of Mother Nature to destroy and rejuvenate.

Was looking for a 3 or 4 hr hike and a good workout. Was on the trail for 3.5 hrs. Really nice hike. Could hear water trickling through canyon for about 20% of the trail. A few really cool little waterfalls. Several forks on trail left me wondering if I went the right way. Took a wrong turn once and had to backtrack. Suggest GPS to keep you on the trail if you’re not familiar with the area. Some great views of SB and the Channel Islands. Got to the end of the official Rattlesnake Canyon trail but decided to keep going on another trail (Tunnel Trail maybe). After about 10 minutes on this trail, I was treated to an amazing view of SB. Definitely worth the extra time on the trail. Went on a Thursday. Parking was no problem and the trail wasn’t too crowded. Got just what I wanted - a cool hike and a great workout!

This was a great starter for small children. The ruins make it feel like an adventure and the views are fantastic.

hiking
14 days ago

Great quick hike with a bit of elevation

Not much of a hike but a very cool view.

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 .

Not really a hike but great views.

Did this one starting from the Romero Canyon trailhead a few days ago since I couldn’t find the specific Buena vista trailhead and worked backwards. It was quite the workout! It was beautiful and serene, only saw one person the entire time. Unfortunately, the area where the catway trail meets the buena vista trail is absolutely covered in poison oak and I am pretty susceptible so I just turned around. Luckily I still got to do the majority of it though! Would try again maybe in another season.

hiking
20 days ago

Moderately strenuous trail through the canyon. Trail markers not always clear but easy enough to find your way back.

Fun hike

Cold Springs rd. closed and barricaded heading up to the trailhead due to damage from the fire and mudslides. Parked below and attempted to walk 0.3mi to the trail head, but was turned away by a park ranger doing his rounds. Will try back in a few weeks!

hiking
25 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
25 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

One of my new favorites. Plenty of shaded areas, so one of the better trails for hotter days. Multiple sceneries including creek, dense trees, and open outlooks areas. Can be as difficult as you want it to be. Best part was my dog taking the opportunity for a quick cool off in the creek. And not too much foot traffic, especially for a Sunday!

walking
1 month ago

Short walk to great views.

Beautiful views, perfect spot to watch the sunset!

fun and easy "hike", it's really walking down a dirt road to the castle. The views of the horizon from the castle are amazing. I would def do it again, but be warned it is easy and super short.

Trail is open, checked it out yesterday and spotted a bear as an FYI. According to another hiker it is a mother who also has a cub

One of the better hikes in the area if you like some variety of bouldering/hiking. Not the best for trail running as most open path trails have been affected by the mudslides. Lots of visible poison oak but I was not affected by it after knowingly walking through it. Fun and not too strenuous. I did not realize the path forked and decided to go left instead but still found some falls and active streams. Fun for dogs too. Enjoy!

Really loved the hike what little I did of it. Only went about 1/2 hour in then out. Only had small amount of time. True bummer was I parked in the Skofield Park parking area. My driver window was smashed out and my laptop and back pack stolen. BIG bummer. Park on the road. Set your alarm.

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.

It’s a good workout if you go all the way to the top! Beautiful hike, just beware there are a lot of bees toward the end of the hike, and it’s a little toasty (not shaded) toward the end of the hike, as well. Bring sunscreen!

Trail is open, but looks very different. Jeep road is good but following the creek is a new landscape post debris flow.

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 !

Cool old structure, not really a trail more just a dirt road. With ease of access the Castles is filled with instagram models and littered with plastic Starbucks cups and straws.

hiking
2 months 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?

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