Hike of the Month: Rattlesnake Canyon Trail
Length of Trail: 5 miles round trip to Gibraltar Road
Elevation: Approximately 1,550 feet at the intersection with Gibraltar Road
Level of Difficulty: Moderate to Strenuous
How to Get There: Exit 101 north and turn right on Mission Street (turn left from 101 south). Continue on Mission to Laguna Street then turn left. At the Santa Barbara Mission turn right on East Los Olivos Street and continue 0.3 miles on Mission Canyon Road/Lane. Turn right on Foothill Road and proceed 0.8 miles before turning left onto West Mountain Drive for 0.4 miles. Stay left on West Mountain Drive for another 0.2 miles before taking a slight left onto Las Canoas Road for 0.6 miles. Stay left on Los Canoas Road for an additional 0.2 miles until Skofield Park. Next to a narrow stone bridge there is an open area with a large sign designating the start of Rattlesnake Canyon Trail. Or, for the technically savvy, type “Rattlesnake Canyon Trail” into Google Maps and disregard the above directions.
Description: Rattlesnake Canyon Trail is a very popular trail in the Santa Barbara front country. The trail is great for hiking, trail running, picnics, and enjoying nature, but this is one trail in Santa Barbara that is not open to mountain bikes. The trailhead is easily accessible near Skofield Park and the trail is very well maintained, making it a great hike. The wide lower
section of the trail winds its way through the base of the canyon, crossing the stream several times and offering ample places to sit and relax in the shade. The trail gradually climbs through the canyon and enters a wide open meadow, locally known as Tin Can Flats. This area is great for a break under the shade of trees for a snack or to enjoy the views of the hillsides around the meadow. Shortly past the meadow hikers have the option to continue on Rattlesnake Canyon Trail up several switchbacks to connect with Gibraltar Road. Other hikers looking to lengthen the adventure can turn left onto the Tunnel Trail Connector and make their way over to Tunnel Trail and beyond. The trek to Gibraltar and back is a moderate 5-mile hike that climbs just over 1,500 feet to Gibraltar Road and offers both the canyon experience and breathtaking panoramic views from Gibraltar Road. Rattlesnake makes for a great way to shake off your own urban coils.