Located entirely in the Los Padres National Forest, primarily between the San Rafael Mountains and the Sierra Madre Mountains, this is the closest large wilderness area to Santa Barbara. A beautiful and wild place, San Rafael Wilderness is a special area to explore the solitude of wilderness while hiking or backpacking. Watch for wildlife, including black bears, mountain lions and the occasional California condor.
One of the easiest and most rewarding ways to explore the San Rafael Wilderness is on the Manzana Creek Trail. If backpacking, the first primitive camping area is only 1.5 miles away from the trailhead, and is adjacent to the Creek with abundant vegetation. There are so many other places to discover on and off the trail. You can also camp in the Forest Service’s nearby Nira Campground which has both reserved and non-reserved sites, and take day hikes.
To really unplug and connect with the environment, there is nothing like wilderness. Fortunately, the San Rafael Wilderness is accessible and inspiring.
Sunset Valley Rd, Los Olivos (past Davy Brown Campground)
US Forest Service
Backpacking, Birdwatching, Camping, Hiking, Historic Cultural Interest, Horseback Riding, Picnicking, Relaxing, Running (Trail), Viewing, Walking, Watchable Wildlife
The highest point in Santa Barbara County, Big Pine Mountain is contained in San Rafael Wilderness.
Congressionally designated as a wilderness in 1968, this area had previously been protected by the Forest Service as a Primitive Area.