For many people, Los Padres National Forest’s Jesusita Trail is their favorite hike on the south facing slope of the Santa Ynez mountains adjacent to Santa Barbara. After traversing an open meadow area, the lower portion of the trail features a beautiful creek (San Roque Creek) and cooling, oak-filled shade. This is a great destination in itself. For stunning views and a rigorous hike or run, the trail continues uphill to Inspiration Point and beyond to Mission Creek.
Watching for birds, other animals, wildflowers, and diverse plants is very rewarding. This is a special destination.
1150 San Roque Road, Santa Barbara
National Forest Service
9 miles (bike)
Biking (mountain), Birdwatching, Hiking, Picnicking, Relaxing, Running, Viewing, Walking, Watchable Wildlife
The Arroyo Burro Trail stems off of Jesusita Trail. Although often not well maintained, the trail is beautiful in its upper reaches and features great boulders and views.
Rattlesnake Canyon Trail, which is described on this website, is another wonderful nearby trail. Other excellent hikes in the area, among many, are Romero Canyon Trail, Cold Spring Trail Loop and Montecito Peak Trail. A complete list, with very good descriptions, of all of the major nearby hikes on the south-facing slope of the Santa Ynez Mountains (also known as the Front County Hikes) can be found here.
For a comprehensive, illustrated species list of the animals and plants of the Los Padres National Forest, see iNaturalist.
Also, the San Marcos Foothills Preserve is a popular place to walk and enjoy mountain and ocean views.