Chris Casebeer's Favorite Santa Barbara Hiking and Biking


We are lucky to be able to live in an area with great local walks and, because we are close to the mountains, we have access to some of the most spectacular back country in the world—Los Padres National Forest.

Here are my favorites:


Douglas Family Preserve (AKA the Wilcox Property)—This 45 acre property was fought for and preserved by the community and dedicated to the City. Among the many donors was Michael Douglas who named it in honor of his father, Kirk. This is a great place to walk your dog: it's one of the few off-leash areas in the City. Groves of eucalyptus, meadows, and cliff-edge views of the Pacific are what this park is all about.

Santa Barbara Botanic Garden—This is a nonprofit organization that maintains a 25 acre property with every kind of flora in the county including a redwood glen on Mission Creek. It has the remnants of the dam and aqueduct built for the Old Mission. The upper meadow is beautiful when all the wildflowers come into bloom in spring. There is an admission fee for those who aren't members. It's well worth being a member.

The Mission Rose Garden—Located across the street from the Mission in a large grassy park is the Rose Garden with many varieties of roses. They are maintained by the local Rose Club. Walk around the park and the Mission grounds for a sense of Santa Barbara's history.

Tunnel Trail—This is one of the main trails from town that accesses the front country and can connect you into the back country. Like many of our trails, because we are so close to the mountains here, this hike is uphill. In fact you can't hike into the front country (the mountains just behind town) without going up. So be it. But it's worth it. When you get higher up you have spectacular views of the entire coastline. And, as you go up, the view keeps changing and getting better. From Tunnel you can hike over to Inspiration Point and Seven Falls. Click on the link for more information and some maps.

Rattlesnake Trail—As with Tunnel Trail, the same goes here, but it's one of the easier hikes. This trail goes up Rattlesnake Canyon and, if you just go up to the connector trail and back it's about 3.5 miles. A nice creek side hike among oaks and sycamores. Click on the link for more information and some maps.

Cold Springs Trail This trail above Montecito follows Cold Springs Creek and then turns up toward Montecito Peak. This is a very lush canyon and there is usually water in the creek year round. The upper part is steep. It's about a 9 mile round trip if you go all the way to the top.

For more information about hiking in Santa Barbara, there is a wonderful resource in Also, Land Trust for Santa Barbara is a major conservator of open lands in SB County.  From Gaviota to Santa Ynez to the Carpinteria Bluffs you will find wild hideaways.  Birds and Monarch butterflies abound at the Cordano Preserve and the Carpinteria Marsh.  Read more at Land Trust for Santa Barbara. There are many, many good hikes. Check it out. For information about Los Padres National Forest see their Web site.

Go buy Day Hikes of Santa Barbara. It's the best guidebook to local trails. You can buy it at Pacific Travelers Supply.



Santa Barbara has it all from casual biking, to road racing, to mountain biking.

If you just want to wander around on your bike for light exercise, we have a rather new series of bike paths and bike lanes in the City. For biking along the beach, there is a bike path that starts at the Bird Refuge in Montecito and runs all the way to the Breakwater (yacht harbor) along Cabrillo Boulevard.

Another great bike path is in the Goleta area and begins on Modoc Road (near Hollister) and runs all the way to (and through) UCSB. This one takes you by the Atascadero Creek drainage and into the Goleta Marsh and Goleta Beach.

For fun you can rent bicycle jitneys for the family along Cabrillo Boulevard and bike along the bike path there.

For the serious road biker there are several active racing clubs: Santa Barbara Bike Club for the elite town roadies and Echelon Santa Barbara with a great junior racing program. For the best bike shop in Santa Barbara check out FasTrack Bicycles.

For mountain bikers, welcome to Mecca. Many of the front country trails are open to bikers. Most of the trails are strenuous and rocky but rewarding. Try Romero Trail in Montecito. For a guide to trails check out

© Chris Casebeer & Co.