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Inspiration Point

Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara + Sierra Madre/San Rafael Mountains, California

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Inspiration Point

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  • Heading up the Inspiration Point Trail.- Inspiration Point
  • At the junction follow the Tunnel Trail left.- Inspiration Point
  • Views over Santa Barbara Channel opening up.- Inspiration Point
  • Santa Ynez mountains frame the northern backdrop.- Inspiration Point
  • Inspiration point, looking west.- Inspiration Point
  • Inspiration Point.- Inspiration Point
  • View over Santa Barbra, Stearns Wharf, the harbor and east Santa Cruz Island from Inspiration Point.- Inspiration Point
  • View over old Santa Barbra Mission area.- Inspiration Point
  • Interesting sandstone rock formations in the Santa Ynez Mountains. - Inspiration Point
  • - Inspiration Point
  • - Inspiration Point
  • - Inspiration Point
Overview + Weather
Pros: 
Nice hike close to town. Views.
Cons: 
Weekend crowds. Limited parking.
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Region:
Santa Barbara + Sierra Madre/San Rafael Mountains, CA
Congestion: 
High
Pets allowed: 
Yes, with restrictions
Net Elevation Gain: 
800.00 ft (243.84 m)
Parking Pass: 
Not Required
Preferable Season(s):
Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall
Total Distance: 
3.50 mi (5.63 km)
Trail type: 
There-and-back
Trailhead Elevation: 
1,000.00 ft (304.80 m)
Current Local Weather:
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Hike Description

Hike Description

Contributor

For a usually warm, usually busy, always beautiful half-day hike in Santa Barbara, Inspiration Point by way of the Tunnel Trail, is a great bet. Not to be confused with the Inspiration Point offshore on Anacapa Island or the hike to Inspiration Point in the San Gabriel Mountains by way of Echo Mountain, this Inspiration Point rewards hikers with stunning views of the greater Santa Barbara area, including the northern Channel Islands. It's typically buzzing with hikers, joggers, mountain bikers, and dog walkers on a sunny day and for good reason. This 3.5-mile hike climbs an attainable 800 feet, the trail is well maintained, and it offers some of the best sightseeing in the area.

Most hikers choose to approach the hike by way of the dog-friendly Tunnel Trail, though for those craving a longer day, Jesuita Trail from San Roque road is a 7.5-mile round trip. Regardless of which path you take, the sweeping vista at Inspiration Point encapsulates Santa Barbara down below and broad perspectives of the Pacific's Santa Barbara Channel and Channel Islands. That’s not to undermine the varying and interesting views peppered along the hike itself. The trail meanders through Mission Canyon, a wide draw that is punctuated with the intriguing sandstone formation named The Mission Crags. Tantalizing glimpses of the ocean move in and out of view as the trail winds up toward the summit, and along with it, vistas of the Santa Barbara wharf, and the mission style architecture of the downtown.

The hike traverses through the varied topography of the Santa Ynez Mountains. As the westernmost of the Transverse Ranges, this extremely narrow range of mountains (by mountain range standards) rises sharply in the north and drops off almost equally as dramatically on its southern edge. This young range is characterized by the abundance of exposed, craggy sandstone—it’s evident that some local climbers have established intermittent and relatively easy bouldering routes here. Also abundant are the seemingly endless sloping shale fields, upturned by the still-active Santa Ynez Fault.

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Location + Directions

Nearby Camping + Lodging

(2 within a 30 mile radius)

Nearby Adventures

(12 within a 30 mile radius)

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