Explore the most popular 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.

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views

walking

nature trips

bird watching

trail running

wild flowers

dogs on leash

kid friendly

forest

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mountain biking

dog friendly

river

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waterfall

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lake

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no shade
scramble
washed out
12 hours ago

El Camino Cielo road was closed at Gibraltar so we drove down to the Mountain Drive head which is accessible from Park Lane. Trail quite sketchy above the waterfall. Several tough washouts but the worst about 1 mile from the top. Still worth doing but bring sticks and plenty of water.
Not sure why the directions take you to the top as the assumed trail head - I’d rather hike up and then down instead of down and up.

Lots of growth on the trail. The scrambling is mediocre.

River crossings were waist deep.

hiking
2 days ago

Great early evening hike!

hiking
rocky
scramble
2 days ago

Great trail but a fair bit of rock scrambling. The water was wonderful and kept things cool, but bring plenty of water and good shoes!

hiking
2 days ago

It's a nice trail. I would not say its hard. Correct will - moderate.
Is clean. 7 miles. Mostly sunny.
Need to know - all the way up the hill and the way back down the hill. It depends on where you will start. / id you will start from the road 5N18 - will go uphill and on the way back downhill /.
All ruins..... They are under construction, nothing to see.
The trial has a nice view of the lake and mountains.

hiking
no shade
over grown
rocky
scramble
3 days ago

I started from the E Mountain Drive trail head, it’s open. The trail is a bit crowded up to the waterfall. After the waterfall the crowds definitely thin out. I went on a Saturday.

The trail is mellow and beautiful the whole way to the falls, it follows the creek so you get the peaceful sound of the water on the way up. There are a few creek crossings but there are many stones to hop on so they’re not challenging at all. The trail is completely shaded.

After the waterfall there is absolutely no shade, you are exposed to the elements all the way up to the end of the trail at Camino Cielo road. I brought 2 liters of water and I went through it all.

The trail has in fact been swept away in many portions. Very very sketchy in some sections, all the lose rock and steepness is challenging. As someone else mention trekking poles are a huge advantage. It’s all uphill with no shade. You are rewarded with ocean views. I marked the sketchy parts on the trail with waypoints on my recording.

Pack a daypack with plenty of water, first aid, food, etc. Get out there, happy trails.-Verified Completed-

hiking
no shade
3 days ago

This is my new outdoor hike that's close to home! Hidden just off of Highway 154 is the San Marcos Foothills Preserve. It's a beautiful oasis with ocean, island and mountain view's featuring hiking/running trails. While the main trail is a 3.7-mile loop that's of moderate difficulty with a gain of 751 feet, multiple smaller unmarked trails venture further into the reaches of the preserve. There's a large parking lot right at the trailhead (for exact directions use: 34.457620, -119.766830). The best feature about this preserve is the fact that one section is maintained by a herd of 400 sheep with two shepherds and several sheepdogs from the Channel Islands Foundation. I was lucky enough to run into them during my adventure. Truly happy California sheep--forget about cows! The trail is not for horses or bicycles, however, is dog friendly if they remain leashed. I saw some great wildlife besides the sheep including a skink, lizards, a gopher and many birds species. Check it out for yourself.

Really beautiful hike. Lots of flowers and green vegetation due to the amount of rain lately. The beach was nice, but rocky... would have liked to have been there at low tide instead in order to see more sea life. Would definitely recommend. Great workout too!

poorly marked.

hiking
5 days ago

Nice clean trail, a bit of incline on some parts. Partially shady, if you come mid day bring plenty of water, first aid, food and everything else you would bring in your day pack.

I ran into one local that mentioned there are many rattlesnakes in the area, I didn’t see any only saw rabbits, butterflies and humming birds.

The trail is partially urban and partially rural. There is a nice little creek and beautiful ocean views with rolling green hills and wild flowers. A few benches along the way that are nice to take in the sounds and views.

One big tree is down that blocks the trail, there is a sign that says the trail is closed but it’s because of the tree, just go over it like I did. Get out there, happy trails. -Verified Completed-

Creeks are flowing. Poison Oak is growing.

hiking
6 days ago

Nice loop with a bit of uphill and downhill. We went in early spring and it was beautiful. Lots of lush grass and wildflowers. The trail is a little uneven but very clearly marked. There are many offshoots from the trail that you could take to make your hike longer. And it seems to connect with other trails from different parks/hiking areas. Keep an eye out for poison oak, especially in the shady areas. There is no “parking area”, just pull off the road at the trailhead and tuck your mirrors in!

Beautiful views. Moderate difficulty in parts. Water was running down the creek. Nice 1.5-2 hour holiday up and down.

hiking
muddy
9 days ago

hiking
9 days ago

Great trail, bring water.

Quiet trail with a bit of cold on the ridge with the afternoon wind.

hiking
washed out
10 days ago

As of today the gate is up and there is no way anyone is crossing anytime soon. Amazing views.

hiking
10 days ago

I was wondering when the elevation started but then I realized the trail head started at the top. It’s easy enough going down but remember you got to come back up.

Lots of bobcat scat but didn’t see one. Beautiful views of the lake and one point of the ocean. If you follow the AT recording it just ends on the trail that continues I think another 3 miles or so and to the camp.

The trail is clean and wide open at the beginning because it’s a dirt road then becomes overgrown with multiple down trees. I went on a Saturday around 10am and didn’t see anyone on the way down then saw 3 others on my way up.

Trail is worth it, very nice. Pack a bunch of water, first aid, food, jacket, etc. Be prepared bring your day pack, get out there. Happy trails. -Verified Completed-

hiking
10 days ago

Good but a bit cold on the ridge in the afternoon wind. Very quiet trail with few hikers.

hiking
washed out
10 days ago

hiking
12 days ago

Great hike, not a single other person on the trail so it was very peaceful, but the trail appears well trafficked enough to keep it from being overgrown. Someone recently trimmed back some of the sharp yucca from the trail too. It had rained significantly the last few days so I was expecting a lot of mud but there wasn’t much, it seems to drain down the hillside well. I didn’t hike the entire trail, I went about 2.5 miles to the sign where it splits to Gibraltar Dam or to Matias Potrero camp. Very pretty trail with everything being so green right now: moss, ferns, etc. which we don’t see as often in our chaparral system. The part right before the trail split gets a little confusing, where it looks like a boneyard of trees destroyed by fires, but you just tread straight over the dead trees to get to the split. The drive up Gibraltar from SB has amazing views of the ocean as always. I took my dogs with me, off leash, they did great.

hiking
muddy
16 days ago

Lots of great water falls right now

hiking
muddy
16 days ago

Lots of great water falls right now

hiking
muddy
16 days ago

Lots of great water falls right now

hiking
blowdown
muddy
rocky
scramble
washed out
16 days ago

Great trail. Due to last years fire (2018) some of the trail is washed out and walking path is narrow with very unstable foundation. Mixed terrain make it challenging

hiking
16 days ago

Bring a day pack with 2 liters of water, snacks,first aid kit, etc..Be prepared. Good trail, follow your AT recording. Get out there, happy trails. -verified completed-

hiking
17 days ago

Trail is very overgrown with a lot of poison oak but only in the beginning(5-10min). Trail is also flooded everywhere, your shoes/socks will get wet if you go 1-2 months within this post.

It’s pretty flat and easy the whole way. Once you make it out of the beginning you are rewarded with beautiful wild flowers and ocean vistas. Happy trails. Get out there.
-Verified Completed-

hiking
17 days ago

The creek is flowing. If you follow the AT recording it starts at the parking lot. If you are reading this within a month of this post I suggest walking on the paved road on the side of the dog park to find the trail otherwise you may have a difficult time crossing the creek.

It’s a gradual easy climb all the way to the main road. There is a section toward the end that comes to a large concrete canal, don’t follow the at trails recording here and cross the cement. It goes nowhere. Follow the marked trail signs.

There are 2 or more creek crossings with no clear rock path or defined way across. People leave sticks to help with the crossings use them or find one or you will get wet.
It’s a beautiful easy trail, I highly suggest it. Get out there. Happy trails. -Verified Completed-

21 days ago

Beautiful views!

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