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Our Favorite Santa Barbara Hikes!

One of our favorite activities around Santa Barbara is hiking!  There are so many cool trails and locations around here, but sometimes it gets overwhelming to narrow it down and choose one.  We want to share some of our go-tos with you, including hikes for various occasions.  We have perfect short but strenuous after-work work-out hikes, sunset look-out hikes, and long, ambitious back country full-day hikes.  Here are some of our faves:IMG_4499

Gaviota Peak

 

Perfect For: Avoiding the SB weekend hiking crowds.

Distance: 6-7 miles (depending which route you take)

Directions to Trailhead:

Take the 101 North for about 30 miles.

Take the CA-1 exit, Exit 132, towards Vandenberg Air Force base.

Make a sharp right at the stop sign, and drive along the fence until you get to a parking area.  There is a place to fill out a little slip and pay for parking ($2.00).

The trail is on the far corner of the parking lot.

Description:

If you have done all of the hikes in the immediate Santa Barbara area, this is a great one to try.  It is a little further away, but you will not encounter many people there, which is a nice change from the inundated SB trails.  There are two trails to take, one of them leads up the backside of the mountain, ending in a spectacular view of the ocean.  The other leads up the ocean side of the mountain, passing by cool caves and rock formations on the way.  Both trails lead to the same peak with its incredible views.  More detailed trail description here. 

 

Mercury Mine

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Perfect For: A full day trip in the back country if you are into seeing cool old ruins

Distance: 10 or 12 miles

 

Directions:  

Take exit 101B for State St towards California 154

Continue traight onto Calle Real

Turn right onto CA-154 w/ San Marcos Pass Rd.

After 10.5 miles, turn right into Paradise RD

Continue on Paradise Road, crossing the river several times and passing many campgrounds.

After about 10 miles, when you have gone as far as you can on Paradise Road, park your car after crossing a river.

The trail begins at the metal gate across the dirt road next to the river and the parking area.

 

Trail Description:

If you have an entire day to dedicate to an incredible hike, and are interested in seeing an intriguing historical curiosity, this is the trek for you.  It is long, but so gratifying at the end.  This is supposedly a 10 miles hike, but it felt much longer to us, at least 12 miles.  After this long trek, you arrive at what feels like a Twilight Zone.  In the mid 19th century, mine-prospectors recognized the potential of the San Ynez valley as a source of mercury.  Up to 400 men lived in this mine at a time.  The mine has been left intact, permitting weather and time to slowly corrode and weather the structure.

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Nothing has been removed, so you can see mining carts still sitting on their tracks.  If you look hard enough you will find the mining shaft.  The machinery is all still there as well as well as rusty pipes and smokestacks.

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Brick ovens are still partially intact.

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Detailed trail description is available here.

 

Inspiration Point

Perfect For: A short after work workout.

 

Distance: 3.5 miles

 

Directions:

From the Santa Barbara mission, take Mission Canyon Road towards the mountains.

Make a right on Foothill and then a left soon after to continue up Mission Canyon Road.

Take a slight right at Tunnel Road.

Stay on Tunnel Road until it ends, and park wherever you can, being careful to keep your car behind the white line!

 

Trail Description:

This is a relatively short but steep hike, making it a perfect end-of-the-day workout.  Because it is not too long, you can usually get to the top after work in time to see the sun beginning to set. The top provides great views of Santa Barbara and of the ocean.  More details are available here. 

 

Little Pine Mountain and 19 Oaks

 

Perfect For: An ambitious all-day trip

 

Distance: 10.5 miles

 

Directions:

Take exit 101B for State St towards California 154

Continue traight onto Calle Real

Turn right onto CA-154 w/ San Marcos Pass Rd.

After 10.5 miles, turn right into Paradise RD

Continue along Paradise Road.

After you cross a river, turn into the Upper Oso campground on the left past a kiosk.

Follow the road to the Upper Oso campground.  When you enter the campground, go straight (rather than turning left) and park at the end.

The trail begins in this parking are at the metal gate.

 

Trail Description:

This is a beautiful and long hike in the San Ynez Valley.  The views are spectacular.  It gets quite hot during the summer, exceeding 90 degrees, so we prefer it for other seasons.  Bring lots of water either way.  You will not see many people on this trail, since it is quite long.  Click here for a more detailed trail description.

 

Knapps Castle

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Perfect for: A sunset picnic OR long day hike.

Distance: Short stroll from Camino Cielo or 7 miles.

Directions to short stroll from Camino Cielo: 

Take exit 101B for State St towards California 154

Continue traight onto Calle Real

Turn right onto CA-154 w/ San Marcos Pass Rd.

After you pass Painted Cage Road, drive another mile or two until you get to East Camino Cielo Road.

Turn right on East Camino Cielo and drive about 3 miles.

The trail begins behind a gate on your left.

Directions to Longer 7 mile day hike:

Take exit 101B for State St towards California 154

Continue traight onto Calle Real

Turn right onto CA-154 w/ San Marcos Pass Rd.

After 10.5 miles, turn right into Paradise RD

Drive about 2.5 miles down Paradise Road.

About 1.6 miles past the Fremont Campground you will see a tree with a big growth on it on the right.  The trailhead is here, by a sign and trail map.

Trail Description:

The Knapp's Castle ruins are historically interesting.  The mansion was built in 1916 by a wealthy industrialist and lasted only briefly until a forest fire burned it down in 1945.  There are several options to get there.  You can do it as a beautiful stroll from Camino Cielo for a sunset walk.  You can also do this from the back country for a longer stroll with a beautiful and interesting view at the end.  The trail description also offers a loop that can be done, which is a bit longer (about 9 miles), but the trail is old an untrod, and difficult to figure out, so we recommend avoiding this.  Trail Descriptions are available here.

 

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