MTB Project Logo

Hiking Santa Barbara

Zoom in to see details
Map Key

Overview

A gem among California beach towns, Santa Barbara lies at a geographical transition zone between Central and Southern Coastal California, The region has a mild and inviting Mediterranean climate ideal for year-round hiking and outdoor exploration. Between the south-facing coastline and Channel Islands lying offshore offshore and a backdrop of the rugged Santa Ynez Mountains rising above town the scenery is spectacular. For those looking for more remote and off the beaten path experiences, the Los Padres National Forest to the north covers a huge swath of the coastal mountains with longer loops, ridgelin hikes, backcountry camping and more. Myriad parks and open spaces sprinkled throughout the towns and surrounding county land means you don't have to travel or drive far to access trails.

If you are looking for abundant flowing water or waterfalls, winter and early spring is the best time to get out as summer through fall are often hot and dry in the coastal mountains around Santa Barbara, and seasonal creeks frequently dry up with flows reduced greatly. If venturing out into the Los Padres backcountry, make sure to carry more water than you think you'll need. Temperatures here are often 90-degree plus and mapped water sources are often dry.

Visiting Tips

Santa Barbara's mild climate affords comfortable hiking conditions along the coastline pretty much throughout the year. Fog can be an issue May through July (have you heard the saying, "May grey" or "June gloom?"), limiting views along the coast for the first half of the day and often burning off for the afternoon, although sometimes the fog lingers all day. Getting up higher on the mountain ridges will often get you above the fog if you are looking for sun.

Caution: when off the coast, temperatures can be oppressively hot from late spring through summer and into early fall once you get further inland over the first coastal ridge and up into the Los Padres National Forest. If hiking inland or on longer routes in the Los Padres, make sure to hike early and bring plenty of extra water as waters sources are often seasonal and dry outside of winter/early spring.

Once the rain hits, however, hiking in late winter and early spring in the mountain canyons and Los Padres can be magical when creeks and waterfalls are flowing, wildflowers blooming and California's "green season" is in full swing.

Camping & Lodging

Santa Barbara is chock-full of mid to high-end lodging options as the town itself caters to tourism. Slightly more affordable lodging options are more readily available in both the towns of Carpenteria and Ventura to the south.

If you're looking to camp, consider one of the state beach campgrounds along the Gaviota Coast west of Santa Barbara (at El Capitan State Beach, Refugio Sate Beach, or Gaviota State Beach) or at Carpenteria State Beach to the south. Some fun glamping options can be found at El Capitan Canyon across Highway 101 from El Capitan State Beach.

Recommended Routes in Hiking Santa Barbara - 8

MTB Project is built by riders like you. Add Your Recommended Routes

Favorite Cistern overlook where the fire road meets Camino Cielo. Trail continues to the right where the paved road turns to dirt again and is a steep hike-a-bike up.
Difficult

Romero Loop

10.2 mi 16.5 km 2,366' Up 721.14 m Up 2,364' Down 720.68 m Down

Summerland, CA
Favorite Camuesa connector upper trailhead on a sunny winter morning.
Intermediate/Difficult

Camuesa Connector Loop

10.6 mi 17.0 km 1,559' Up 475.12 m Up 1,558' Down 474.74 m Down

Mission…, CA
Favorite creek crossing
Difficult

Jesusita Out and Back

6.8 mi 10.9 km 1,323' Up 403.18 m Up 1,323' Down 403.19 m Down

Mission…, CA
Favorite Starting the Tequepis descent.
Difficult

Tequepis Trail

7.8 mi 12.5 km 2,325' Up 708.51 m Up 2,324' Down 708.25 m Down

Santa Ynez, CA
Favorite Top of the downhill track viewpoint
Intermediate

The Elings Loop

5.2 mi 8.4 km 726' Up 221.22 m Up 715' Down 218 m Down

Santa B…, CA
Favorite Turn towards Lower McMenemy at the Girard/McMeney intersection.
Intermediate/Difficult

Girard/McMenemy DH

1.4 mi 2.2 km 45' Up 13.85 m Up 751' Down 228.82 m Down

Montecito, CA
Favorite The beginning of the Matias Potrero Trail from the Arroyo Burro Road.
Intermediate/Difficult

Arroyo Burro Loop

10.8 mi 17.4 km 2,190' Up 667.47 m Up 2,194' Down 668.65 m Down

Mission…, CA
Favorite The beginning of the Matias Potrero Trail from the Arroyo Burro Road.
Intermediate/Difficult

Matias Potrero Loop

10.0 mi 16.1 km 1,397' Up 425.7 m Up 1,399' Down 426.35 m Down

Mission…, CA

Hiking Santa Barbara Biking

  • 259 Miles 417 Kilometers of Trail
  • 9 Recommended Routes
  • 10 Easy Trails Easy Trails
  • 31 Intermediate Trails Intermediate Trails
  • 9 Difficult Trails Difficult Trails
MTB Project is built by riders like you. Share what you know about this area!

Areas Within Hiking Santa Barbara

Weather Averages


High
 
Low
 
Precip
 
Days w/
 
J F M A M J J A S O N D

Trails in Hiking Santa Barbara - 41

MTB Project is built by riders like you. Add Your Trails

3.9 mi 6.3 km #1Camuesa Connector Trail
Intermediate/Difficult
Mission Canyon, CA
Intermediate/Difficult
Mission Canyon, CA
1.3 mi 2.1 km #2Lower Romero
Difficult
Summerland, CA
Difficult
Summerland, CA 16 
2.0 mi 3.2 km #3San Antonio Creek Trail
Intermediate
Mission Canyon, CA
Intermediate
Mission Canyon, CA 21 
6.6 mi 10.7 km #4Romero Fire Road
Intermediate
Summerland, CA
Intermediate
Summerland, CA 13 
0.7 mi 1.1 km #5Elings Park - Downhill Trail
Intermediate/Difficult
Santa Barbara, CA
Intermediate/Difficult
Santa Barbara, CA 17 
4.5 mi 7.3 km #6Santa Cruz Trail
Difficult
Mission Canyon, CA
Difficult
Mission Canyon, CA
4.5 mi 7.2 km #7Cold Spring Trail - South
Difficult
Montecito, CA
Difficult
Montecito, CA
1.9 mi 3.0 km #8West Fork Cold Spring
Intermediate/Difficult
Mission Canyon, CA
Intermediate/Difficult
Mission Canyon, CA
2.4 mi 3.9 km #9Arroyo Burro Trail
Intermediate/Difficult
Mission Canyon, CA
Intermediate/Difficult
Mission Canyon, CA
2.5 mi 4.0 km #10Sweetwater Trail
Intermediate
Santa Ynez, CA
Intermediate
Santa Ynez, CA

Photos of Hiking Santa Barbara - 92

MTB Project is built by riders like you. Add Your Photos

Cistern overlook where the fire road meets Camino Cielo. Trail continues to the right where the paved road turns to dirt again and is a steep hike-a-bike up.
Oct 22, 2015 near Summerland, CA
Killer views from the climb up Romero Road
Apr 15, 2013 near Summerland, CA
Camuesa Trail, Santa Barbara CA
Feb 2, 2021 near Mission…, CA
Riding across the ridge towards the top of the Romero singletrack
Apr 15, 2013 near Summerland, CA
San Ysidro Creek
Feb 12, 2022 near Montecito, CA
santa cruz trail meadow
Oct 11, 2013 near Mission…, CA
Lower Romero Canyon downhill.
Jul 19, 2019 near Summerland, CA
Tequepis Trail downhill.
Jul 19, 2019 near Santa Ynez, CA