The first half of the 4.5-mile-long San Ysidro Trail samples all the classic Santa Barbara frontcountry features: lush deciduous forest, jagged rock walls frequented by altitude-crazy climbers, secluded waterfalls peppered with swimming holes, and vernal pools under canyon shade.
While most stop at the waterfall 1.6 miles in, the best views are further ahead. The route traverses chaparral meadows along the base of Montecito Peak, gaining nearly 2,000 feet in 3 miles on a lung-searing stretch for trail runners. Follow the switchbacks to colorful high country vegetation and views of snow-capped summits at Santa Ynez Ridge. When finished, retrace your steps back to the trailhead.
-Mapped by Chuck Graham
TO TRAILHEAD: Head southeast on State Street. In 0.2 mile, turn right at West Carrillo Street. Continue for a half mile, then turn left to merge onto US-101 South. In 4.6 miles, take exit 93 for San Ysidro Road. Turn left at Eucalyptus Lane/San Ysidro Road and follow signs for San Ysidro Road. After a mile, turn right onto CA-192/East Valley Road. In 0.9 mile, turn left on Park Lane. Continue straight as Park Lane becomes East Mountain Drive. Follow East Mountain 0.2 mile to the trailhead.