May 20th, 2019
Those fortunate enough to make Santa Barbara home find everything about the city and its surroundings optimal. A unique geography of mountains, foothills, beaches, and islands creates enormous opportunity for outdoor activities, especially exceptional hiking.
The Santa Ynez Mountains rise just behind the coastal cities of Santa Barbara County. This east-west range is part of Los Padres National Forest and forms a beautiful green backdrop for Santa Barbara. Many great trails run through these mountains, visiting quiet canyons, gushing waterfalls, and overlooks with stunning ocean views. Another attractive thing about hiking in Santa Barbara is that most of the trails are free! Here is our black book of favorite hikes!
Top on our list is Hot Springs Canyon Trailhead, which is located in the hills above Montecito! This trail is a 4.3 mile loop that features natural hot springs! This trail is accessible to all skill levels which makes it the perfect hike to take the family on!
Our Second favorite hike is Montecito Peak, which gives you a 360 ocean and mountain view! This hike is around 6 miles and is a little bit more challenging than the previous hike. Over the course of the hike you gain around 2,444 feet in elevation and pass by multiple waterfalls on your way up!
Another Local Favorite, just outside of Santa Barbara, is Nojoqui Falls. This short hike leads to an amazing eighty-foot waterfall surrounded by a wall of lush green foliage. The hike time is approximately 15 minutes round-trip which makes this the perfect pit stop on your way from or to Santa Barbara!
One of Santa Barbara’s most unique hikes is Knapp’s Castle, located in the mountains above Santa Barbara. This castle was originally built as a palatial estate that burned down over seventy years ago. Despite this, the hike still offers unsurpassed views of the Los Padres National Park, which includes the Santa Ynez River Canyon, Lake Cachuma, and the San Rafael Mountains.
Last but not least on our list of exceptional hikes in Santa Barbara is Lizard’s Mouth. Lizard’s Mouth is a mountain top rock formation that overlooks the Pacific Ocean and Channel Islands. This trail is a quick five-minute stroll to amazing panoramic views of Santa Barbara. This hike is perfect for exploring, sun-set watching, or just relaxing with an ocean and mountain view backdrop.