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Seven Falls

Seven Falls Trail MapThis Santa Barbara trail uses many of the same directions as Inspiration Point, but some consider Seven Falls a better alternative because it follows a technical single track upstream to a handful of pools filled by bubbling cascades. While the beginning stretches of the two hikes are similar, the trails are two very unique stretches that stand on their own. Seven Falls don’t see as much hiking pressure because it is a smaller, narrower trail, although the pools are a popular spot for swimmers in the summer.

Best Time

While the draw for Inspiration Point is the view, the creek is the draw for the Seven Falls hike. If it’s foggy or hazy along the coast, opt for Seven Falls, which is at its highest flows shortly after the rainy season and in the early summer. Hiking during the week is always a good idea on the trails about Mission Creek as the trail can get bombarded by walkers, runners and mountain bikers on the weekends.

Finding the Trail

From the 101 in Santa Barbara, exit at Mission Street and drive 1.1 miles to the Santa Barbara Mission. Make a left on Laguna Street and drive past the mission for 0.2 mile. Head right on Los Olivos for .7 mile until it becomes Mission Canyon Road. At the stop sign, turn right on Foothill road for less than 0.2 mile and make a left back on to Mission Canyon Road near the fire station. Make one last left on Tunnel Road and follow it for 1.1 miles to the turnout located below the iron gate at the trailhead. Park off the road and avoid blocking residential driveways.

Trail Description

The trail begins at a signed iron gate • 1 and offers instant views of the Santa Barbara coast. The lower stretches of the trail follow a partially paved road that winds about the canyon and leads to a water station located on the creek. The station is at .6 mile. Cross the bridge over Mission Creek• 2, stopping briefly to look at the small waterfall below.

Continue down the road, which ends at .72 mile. Stay left after the road ends• 3 and follow the signs to the Tunnel and Jesusita trails. At .8 mile, the trail splits. Again, stay left and follow the signs to the Tunnel and Jesusita trails.

At just under a mile, the trail runs into the creek again. The first major pool on the creek is located at 1 mile. This is a favorite spot for kids looking to cool off in the summer.

Cross the creek• 4 and follow the trail right upstream to the pools. The trail that veers off to the left heads up to Inspiration Point.

This is where the trail gets technical, getting narrower as the hike continues to wind through the big boulders that parallel the creek. At 1.10 miles, the trail mazes in and out of chaparral cover • 5, forcing hikers to duck and dodge some low-hanging limbs along the way. This portion of the hike could be tough for taller hikers but offers some welcome shade during the summertime.

At 1.20 miles the first pool can be spotted off to the right side of the trail. This is a good vantage point of Mission Creek below, which carves through the mini gorge and tumbles down from the mountains that make the backdrop to Santa Barbara Mission.

The trail descends down to the creek and peters out at 1.3 miles, where the seven pools are located• 6. The falls between each pool are most impressive after a heavy rainy season. This is the turnaround spot. Hikers looking for a longer hike can return to the first creek crossing and continue up to Inspiration Point, another easy-to-follow, out-and-back hike.

 

Milestones

1 0.0 Trail starts out above the parking area at an iron gate and follows a partially paved service road

2 0.6 Cross over the bridge and continue down the road

3 0.7 When the road ends, take the single track to the left that leads to the Tunnel and Jesusita trails

4 1.0 The trail crosses the creek; take the trail that parallels the creek upstream

5  1.1 Hike carefully on this technical portion of the trail, winding through boulders and low-handing chaparral

6  1.3 Descend down to the turnaround spot at the pools

Pull-out/Notice

While mountain bikes are allowed on the lower stretches of this trail, the single track is too technical for bikes after the first creek crossing at 1 mile.

 

Trail Use

Hike, Run

Length

2.6 miles, 1.5 hours

Vertical Feet

±845

Difficulty

4

Trail Type

Out & Back

Surface Type

Mixed

Features

Dogs Allowed

Canyon

Summit

Stream

Waterfall

Autumn Colors

Birds

Great Views

Great Photos