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Spring into action! Lace up and go on a hike.

April 22nd, 2024


If you’re seeking a thrilling outdoor adventure in Southern California, look no further than Santa Barbara and Montecito. This stunning region boasts many outdoor activities for nature enthusiasts, and hiking is undoubtedly one of the best ways to explore the area’s beauty. From the sparkling blue Pacific Ocean to the majestic Santa Ynez Mountains, Santa Barbara and Montecito offer an array of breathtaking trails that will leave you speechless. Whether you prefer a leisurely hike with coastal views or a challenging trek through the mountains, you’ll discover that these trails offer a unique and unforgettable outdoor experience. Here are our top 5 picks for hiking trails in Santa Barbara and Montecito that are sure to take your breath away!


Rattlesnake Trail 

This is a favorite among local hikers and outdoor enthusiasts, offering spectacular views of the surrounding hills and valleys as you go through this winding trail. The trailhead begins near the Montecito Inn, making it easily accessible to visitors.

Directions: The trail starts at the creek near Skofield Park. Take Foothill Road (Hwy 192) from Santa Barbara and turn north on Mission Canyon Road toward the Santa Barbara Botanical Gardens. Turn right on Las Canoas for 1.5 miles and park near a narrow bridge before Skofield Park. Look for the trailhead sign.


Cold Springs Trail 

This 2.1-mile loop trail extends through Montecito’s lush hills and ridge lines. With plenty of wildflowers in bloom, this is a great spot for nature lovers and photographers alike. The trail is open year-round and is beautiful to visit anytime. Dogs are allowed on leash; cleanup is required

Directions: To start the hike, head towards the trailhead located at the intersection of Cold Spring Creek and Mountain Drive. Look for the path marked by a wooden sign and avoid the one with a rusty sign. At every fork in the path, take the right turn. While you may encounter a few creeks on the way, they are usually simple to cross.


Romero Canyon Trail 

This 4-mile out-and-back trail is the perfect choice for hikers looking for a challenging trek with plenty of elevation changes and stunning views of Santa Barbara County’s coastal mountains. The path leads through thick forests, meadows, and rolling hills before ending at a serene mountain lake. 

Current Conditions: The front side of Romero Canyon Trail is closed, but the backside portion is open. Directions: Take Highway 101 to Sheffield Drive. Turn left on East Valley Road and then right on Romero Canyon Road. The trailhead is 1/4 mile up Romero Canyon Road past a locked gate.


Hot Springs Canyon Trail 

Consider trying this moderately challenging 3.5-mile loop trail near Santa Barbara, California. It usually takes around 2 hours and 15 minutes to complete. This trail is very popular for hiking, so you can expect to encounter other people while exploring. It’s open throughout the year, and you can visit it anytime because it’s always beautiful. You can bring your dogs along, and they may be off-leash in some areas. 

Directions: From U.S. 101 in Montecito, exit Olive Mill Road, which, after intersecting Alston Drive, continues as Hot Springs Road. Three miles from U.S. 101, you’ll reach Mountain Drive. Turn left and proceed 1/4 of a mile to the trailhead on the right side of the road marked by a Montecito Trails Foundation sign. Park in a safe manner alongside the road.


Buena Vista Trail 

If you’re searching for a hidden trail behind Montecito, Buena Vista Trail might be the perfect choice. It is near the San Ysidro Trail and takes you through the less crowded Buena Vista Canyon. A network of trails is situated behind Montecito, and you can make a short loop hike of approximately 3.5 miles along this trail. Dogs are welcome, but they must be on a leash. 

Directions: To get to the trailhead, follow the directions for the San Ysidro Trail. Head towards the intersection of San Ysidro Road and East Valley Road in Montecito and continue east on East Valley Road. When you reach Park Lane on your left, turn left and continue north along Park Lane until the road forks. At the fork, veer towards the right on Park Lane and turn left onto East Mountain Drive. This short section of Mountain Drive can only be accessed from Park Lane and is not connected to the rest of Mountain Drive. The trailhead is located on your right along East Mountain Drive, and it can be easy to miss. Please note that the trailhead for the San Ysidro Trail is further down and more noticeable. You can park your vehicle along the street.


Jesuita Trail

The Jesusita Trail is an excellent option for hikers of all ages and skill levels. The trail offers the flexibility to customize the hiking distance according to the individual’s preference. You can still enjoy the trail’s natural beauty even if you hike a shorter distance. The roundtrip from Stevens Park to Inspiration Point is about 8.5 miles for those who want to explore the entire trail. 

Directions: There are two ways to access the Jesusita Trail. One is to start at Stevens Park, located near San Roque Road, and the other is to begin at the trailhead situated at the top of San Roque Road, opposite Lauro Canyon Dam. These two paths converge approximately one mile from Stevens Park.


Whether you opt for a challenging hike or prefer something more relaxed, there is undoubtedly something for everyone to explore. So don’t delay - go on an outdoor adventure through these sunny Californian gems. Once out and about in nature, surrounded by sights and sounds, reminding us how lucky we are to experience such beauty, why not take photos to capture memories far beyond our sunny days? Who said hitting the trail had to be all work and no play? It’s time to lace up those sturdy boots and breathe fresh air!

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