Posted by: Santa Barbara Dreaming | October 2, 2008

Santa Barbara Hikes: San Ysidro Trail

Santa Barbara is Beautiful. If you live here, or been here, you know what I’m talking about. But if you’ve never gone hiking in SB, you are missing out! The real beauty of Santa Barbara is highlighted from the summit of the hikes. The glistening blue of the ocean, the crisp, bright blue sky against the brown and green mountains, the white puffy clouds in the sky, and the little purple flowers along the way are stunning views of you would otherwise not get a chance to see. Not to mention the EXHILARATION, and the great sense of accomplishment you feel at the top! Nothing beats that great feeling. 🙂 So please, if you live in SB, go out there and hike! The sights you will see will be unforgettable.

On Saturday Oct 4th, Conditioning Specialists is hosting the Family and Friends Group Hike at the Jesusita Trail. I’m so excited, becasue this trail is a lot of fun. It’s kind of a “back way” of going up to Inspiration Point. To get me pumped for the hike, I thought I’d share with you all an article I wrote in SB Fitness Magazine about San Ysidro Trail. This hike is a killer!

So tranquil and peaceful.... how deceiving. The hike becomes INTENSE after this

So tranquil and peaceful.... how deceiving. The hike becomes INTENSE after this

Length of trail: 9 mile round trip. Level of Difficulty: Very challenging: You’ll need a lot of energy and endurance for this hike. It’s very steep for most of the way, and you will be exposed to sun for a good portion of the time. Make sure you go on a cool day. Time spent (round trip): 3.5 to 4 hours with a good pace with little resting.
How to get there:
Going south on the 101 freeway, take the San Ysidro exit and turn left.
At East Valley Road, (there is a shopping center there) turn right
Turn left onto Park Lane (this street is hard to find, so pay attention)
Turn left again at East Mountain Drive
Park at the end of the road.

There will be a sign marking the beginning of the trail. The trail begins at the sign, and it takes you around the backs of private homes. A few minutes later, the trail joins a paved road. You can continue up the trail, or you can walk on the paved road, which leads straight to a big wire gate. Continue through the gate, and the real hike begins.

The first part of the hike is relatively easy, as you follow the San Ysidro waterfall and creek on your left hand side. (see photo above) There are some great views of waterfalls, and some impressive rock formations, making you feel like Indiana Jones. At around 1.5 miles, the trail has railings to help you climb up some pretty big rocks. After that you cross a creek by jumping across the rocks. This is where the hike starts to get really hard. The trail is well paved, but it becomes much steeper, with less vegetation, and you will be exposed to the sun. Make sure you have a hat and plenty of water to prevent overheating. It’s a relentless climb to the top, zig zagging your way up the mountain. Your calves, knees, thighs, and hips will definitely get a great workout. It will also be a good idea to pack a snack, as your body will need to refuel. As you climb higher up the trail, you will have magnificent views of the mountain ridges, inspiring you to keep pushing towards the top. Finally, at around 4.5 miles, you reach East Camino Cielo Road—the top of the trail! The great views of the mountains, the city, and the ocean is truly rewarding after such a grueling, demanding climb. The sense of accomplishment is priceless. To get back to your car, return the way you came. Make sure you are careful on your descent, as it’s very steep, and the challenge is what makes this beautiful hike so worth it!

Taking a quick breather by the water

Taking a quick breather by the water

And then I climbed, climbed, climbed, and climbed some more.

We FINALLY made it!

We FINALLY made it!

Here’s James and I, exhausted but happy to have made it to the top. I was sooooooo happy to see the top. I was tired, but just ran up the last little bit to reach the summit. It felt SO good to get to the top, and I felt so proud of myself. 🙂

I can’t wait till I go to Jesusita on Saturday, and I will give you a recap on the hike when I get back!

*The photos from this post are by James Street.* Thanks for the pretty pictures, James!



  1. That was a challenging hike! But the view is SO worthwhile once you finally get to the top. It’s like you’re on top of the world! They say the best things in life are free, but no one said they were easy!

  2. Man, it was tough! But you were the perfect hiking companion. Getting to the top makes all the hard work so worthwhile. I can’t wait to go hiking again with you this weekend! 🙂

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