Inspiration Point Hike

Difficulty
This reflects the 10Adventures difficulty rating for each route. We aim to keep ratings consistent across regions.
Moderate
Duration
This reflects the estimated time the majority of users will take on this trail. If you are slower, add time to the top-end figure. If you are fast, then you may complete this route faster than this time range.
2-2.5h
Distance
This reflects the return distance of this route as measured by the GPS file.
5.5 km
Elevation
This reflects the total elevation gained throughout this route as measured by the GPS file. This includes all ascents and descents, and is higher than what is quoted in most route guides, which simply measure the distance between the starting-point and high-point of the route.
285 m
User Ratings
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Directions to Trailhead
Inspiration Point Hike

The Inspiration Point Hike is a scenic adventure in the Los Padres National Forest that boasts breathtaking panoramas of the city of Santa Barbara, the Pacific Ocean, and on a clear day—distant views of the Channel Islands.

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Route Description for Inspiration Point Hike

Seeking a hike near the city of Santa Barbara? The Inspiration Point Trail is a well-revered route, offering some of the best sightseeing opportunities near the city’s center. Often abundant with hikers, trail runners, mountain bikers, and dog walkers, you can enjoy a more tranquil experience on weekday mornings. Though highly trafficked, this route lacks proper signposts, so we encourage you to download the trail GPS before heading out. Note sections of this hike also demand some scrambling up precarious, rocky terrain, so be sure to wear a pair of sturdy, ankle bracing footwear.

Indulge yourself in the wonderful panoramas from atop Inspiration Point. Though morning expeditions offer a more peaceful adventure, those who head out in the late afternoon will enjoy awe-inspiring views of the sun setting over the Pacific. No matter the time of day or season, this adventure offers some of the best views from the Mission Crags, Mission Canyon, Arlington Peak, and more. The unshaded terrain offers great views but also warrants extreme conditions, so check the forecast and dress accordingly! Note dogs are permitted along this adventure, but they must remain on a leash. Don’t forget to charge your camera; the scenes along this route are picture-perfect.

Once your water bottle is filled, and your trail GPS is downloaded you are ready to begin your adventure along the Inspiration Point Hike. Setting out from the Tunnel Trailhead, you will be led along a paved service road, passing through a locked gate. Beyond the gate, the paved route continues, leading you northeast along the unshaded terrain. You will eventually reach a bridge over Mission Creek, where there is also dam infrastructure. Soon after crossing the creek, the trail will transform into dirt, directing you to a junction– keep left here. At the following intersection, veer left, and you will be diverted onto the Inspiration Point Trail. From here, you will be rewarded with views of the craggy sandstone outcrops that protrude from the encompassing forested mountains known as the Mission Crags.

You will be led over Mission Creek and west following the Inspiration Point Trail, climbing up the cliffside. Here, you will be granted some shade as you ascend the rocky terrain, be sure to take your time and mind your footing. The further you climb, the more exposed the terrain, offering wonderful vistas. Once you ultimately reach the overlook, you will likely be in the company of others enjoying the scene—marvel at the views of the city below, the Pacific, and the encompassing mountainous landscape. Admire the beauty and snap a few pics before retracing your footing back down to the trailhead.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is the Inspiration Point Hike difficult?

The Inspiration Point Trail is moderately rated—ideal for intermediate hikers and families with older children.

How long is the Inspiration Point Trail?

The Inspiration Point Hike is a 3.4 out-and-back trail.

What is Inspiration Point?

Inspiration Point is a craggy sandstone summit overlooking the city of Santa Barbara and the Pacific Ocean.

Insider Hints for Inspiration Point Hike

  • If you still have some gas left in the tank explore the nearby Seven Falls Trail
  • Parking is roadside and limited—so arrive early to secure a spot and park within the white lines to avoid a citation
  • Much of this route is unshaded so dress accordingly and wear SPF
  • Those seeking a more tranquil experience should explore in the morning
  • Download the trail GPS as signposts are sparse

Getting to the Inspiration Point Hike Trailhead

The Inspiration Point Hike is accessed via the Tunnel Trailhead off the Tunnel Road in Santa Barbara.

Route Information

  • Backcountry Campground

    No

  • When to do

    Year-round

  • Pets allowed

    Yes - On Leash

  • Family friendly

    Older Children only

  • Route Signage

    Poor

  • Crowd Levels

    High

  • Route Type

    Out and back

Inspiration Point Hike Elevation Graph

Weather Forecast

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Inspiration Point Hike Reviews

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