Choked with chaparral, sycamores, and oaks, the sandstone Romero Canyon provides a lush, wildlife-filled channel to snow-capped mountains and ocean views of the Channel Islands. The 7.5-mile loop from the canyon to Santa Ynez Ridge treks over creeks and cascades, offering up shade and swimming holes to hikers who need relief from the Southern California heat.
From the trailhead, climb through the deeply verdant canyon and deciduous forests, then turn up a short section of switchbacks that show off the coast to the right. After only a mile and a half, you’ll reach one of the most scenic viewpoints in Santa Barbara county: here, Shrubland slopes, the Channel Islands, and the Pacific coast fill the horizon.
Continuing north through the canyon, the trail climbs steadily for 1,500 feet over the next 4 miles. Santa Ynez Ridge, this route’s climax at 3,000 feet, showcases snowy backcountry peaks in Los Padres National Forest. From here, backtrack to the 3-way junction and follow the rushing Romero Canyon Creek to the trailhead.
-Mapped by Chuck Graham
TO TRAILHEAD: Head southeast on State St. Turn right onto West Carrillo St. Turn left to merge onto US 101 S. At 5.6 miles, take exit 92 on the left toward Sheffield Dr. Bear left toward North Jameson Ln. Turn right at North Jameson Ln., then bear left at Sheffield Dr. At 1.3 miles, left at CA 192/East Valley Rd. Turn right at Romero Canyon Rd. Turn right to stay on Romero Canyon Rd. At 1 mile, right at Bella Vista Dr. and continue straight to the trailhead.