While Santa Barbara is most known for its location along the coast, offering both residents and tourists a plethora of beautiful beaches to choose from, it is also home to the Santa Ynez Mountain Range which spans from Santa Barbara County into Ventura County. The Santa Ynez Mountains offer a perfect escape into nature for anyone looking to get some exercise in the outdoors.
Filled with a multitude of hiking trails all of varying levels, it’s easy for anyone, despite their level of hiking experience, to be able to enjoy a hike up the mountain for a few hours either alone or with an entourage.
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No matter how much we can reassure you, you still feel unprepared to face Mother Nature's beauty? Do not worry, you are in the right place; this is the essential guide with top tips for hiking in Santa Barbara.
The items that hikers prefer to bring with them on a hike vary depending on the type of hike and what their personal preferences are. Some hikers prefer not to bring anything with them at all while others bring a small backpack filled with items such as sunscreen, water, and snacks for a picnic when they get to the top. More avid hikers prefer the advanced trails and tend to favor a hydration Camelbak backpack as they traverse the mountain.
When hiking on a sunny day there are many parts of the trail that don’t have tree coverage so a type of sun-visor or baseball hat is also a great item to have accessible. If you are a beginner hiker the App “All Trails” is a great resource to have if you don’t know the mountain well. It will provide you a map of the trail as well as the inside scoop on the types of trails there are available.
There are a multitude of different types of trails that one can choose from in the Santa Ynez Mountains all of varying levels of difficulty. For instance, West Fork Cold Springs trail is known for being beginner friendly, as it is mainly a dirt trail and does not require the hiker to scale boulders or stream hop and has patches of overhang from trees that provide cover from the sun on hot days.
If you are looking for a fun and diverse hike then Hot Springs Canyon trail is for you. At a steep incline and a trail of small boulders used as steps, Hot Springs provides a nice challenge to the everyday hiker.
Similarly, Inspiration Point Trail covers a diverse range of terrain, from crossing small creeks to hiking under dense overhangs of trees. Providing an elevation gain of 951ft over the course of 3.5 miles, Inspiration Point is a great trail for beginner hikers and someone looking for a trail where you can thoroughly enjoy the wonders of nature.
For hikers looking for a day out in nature, the Montecito Peak Trail is a great option. Six miles in length, the Montecito Peak Trail takes you to the very top of the Montecito Mountain, where you are able to get one of the best views of the Santa Barbara Coast line. As an added bonus, there is a waterfall at the top which gives hikers a chance to cool off or relax after a long hike.
In order to keep the trails clean and in the best condition possible for all hikers there are a few unsaid rules that many hikers choose to follow. When passing someone going in the opposite direction on the trail, it is recommended that one of the parties stop and let the other party pass.
However, in recent months due to COVID19 the party that stops turns their backs to the other party to best prevent the spread and limit contact with others. The party that is passing tends to either pull the masks up from around their necks or to use their shirt as a mask if they didn’t have one on them. And of course, if you bring your dogs, don't forget doggy bags for cleaning up after them!
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