Jesusita Trail

This hike takes the Jesusita Trail to Inspiration Point. This is a beautiful area. It is really nice after rains when the creek is running full. 

It is a moderate out-and-back hike of about 4.0 miles each way, for 8 miles roundtrip, and takes around 4 hours. There is an elevation gain of 1470ft.

The things most people will like about this hike are that it is mostly semi-shady to shady, has nice creek action when it's flowing, is a good work-out and has excellent ocean vistas at the top. It may have the most gradual ascent in elevation gain of all the Santa Barbara/Montecito foothill hikes.

The Hike:

Most of the first 3 miles of the hike travels along a creek through a semi-shady to fully shaded wooded environment. The trail then moves up and away from the creek up into a fully sun exposed trail to Inspiration Point.

The hike starts out from the trailhead in a parking lot to the north of the filtration plant (see detailed directions below). About 450 feet into the hike there is a fork. Take the right fork uphill. This first part is mostly exposed to the sun.

About 1800 feet in you will start to see the creek to your left. The trail travels along the creek, in the shade, for most of the journey through the lower parts of the hike.

When you get to about a half mile in you will get to a very nice shady area that has a picnic table. At .6 mile the trail crosses over the creek right to left. At .7 miles you'll see a large oak tree under which there are trail signs. Follow the Jesusita trail to the right at this fork. This takes you up into a meadow area which is mostly exposed to the sun until you get to about 1 mile in where you head back into the shady wooded creek environs.

Not long thereafter you cross the creek right to left and this takes you into a nice creekside area with boulders you can sit on and is a nice resting area, and an interesting area to explore around the creek. As you continue through this area you will see a private road to your left which parallels the trail, stay on the trail. There are several creek crossings which I won't be specific about as they are pretty obvious.

At the 1.7 mile point you come to the end of what I the call Lower Jesusita Trail and the last creek crossing in this area. You can tell when you reach this point as the trail exits onto a paved road and there is a small bridge here allowing the road to cross over the creek. If you want to have a pretty easy hike of about 1.7 miles to here and turn around for a total of 3.4 miles this is the place to turn around and head back. The elevation gain becomes steeper after this point, but it's not at all difficult if you're in decent shape.

Please run the slideshow below to see the hike taken in June:

Jesusita Trail Slideshow


After crossing the creek at the 1.7 mile point you head onto the paved road for a bit. You take the road straight up the hill from the trail, do not take the crossing road which goes left and right. After a very short distance up the road there will be a fork, take the road to the right more steeply uphill. This goes into a private ranch/residence. When you get to the front gate of the residence take the trail to the right of the driveway which goes through a gate. The trail is marked and is really part of the dirt driveway for the residence. Travel a ways down the road and you will see a fork, take it downhill to the right, not left which goes up to the residence. See slideshow.

The trail is now back into a shady creekside environment. A short ways down this dirt road, about 2 miles into the hike, you will cross over the creek and come to a very important fork. Take it left uphill and along the creek, don't take the flatter groomed road to the right.

At about 2.3 miles in the trail starts to climb more and the next mile is where the steepest part of the trail is, relative to the easy parts down below. At about 2.9 miles the trail definitely heads away from the creek and up into the full sun.  Be careful not to turn onto a nicer looking trail at about 3 miles that crosses perpendicular to the trail you are on, keep going straight. At around 3.4 miles the trail levels out skirting around the mountainside and you start to see ocean views.

At 3.75 the Jesusita trail ends and flows into a fire road known as Edison Road, because it is used by the Edison power company to maintain the very tall electrical power towers that travel all along the upper foothills here. Go left and uphill onto the fire road which takes you up to Inspiration Point. It's still all sun exposed here and all the way to the vista point.

After traveling past 2 to 3 sets of power towers, the road angles right and uphill towards the ocean. Just as the road turns left again near the top, if you look carefully to your right you will see a post in the ground. If you want better views the rest of the way to the vista, go off the road here to your right and then turn quickly left onto a dirt trail that parallels the fire road. This trail travels up and onto to Inspiration Point and is anywhere from 2 feet to 50 feet away from the fire road at various points. It's not as easy as taking the fire road, but a little more fun and much better views. If you take the fire road, as you get to the top of the hill you will eventually see a gap to your right through which you can see the ocean and you take this to the vista point. You go right and then right again. You'll see it.

Inspiration point, at 4 miles in, is basically a flat area up here where you can see a wide vista of the ocean, the Channel Islands and down over the city and harbor area. On a clear day it's magnificent. On a partially foggy day, your view is limited but there's a wonderful feeling of space nonetheless. Enjoy it up here, have a snack, take photos etc. You deserve it.

Then head back down the way you came. I hope you enjoy your hike!

Map and Directions:

Take Las Positas Rd north off the 101 Freeway, this road becomes San Roque Rd after crossing upper State St. Continue north past Foothill Rd. until you see the William Carter Filtration Plant on your left. Park across the street or in the parking lot on your left adjacent to, and after, the Filtration Plant. Walk down the trail on the right hand side of the parking as you face the hills. This is the trailhead. Note: there are no restroom facilities here.

Jesusita Trail




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