Seven Falls Trail

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.
1.5-2h
Distance
This reflects the return distance of this route as measured by the GPS file.
5.1 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.
245 m
User Ratings
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Directions to Trailhead

Explore the Seven Falls Trail near Santa Barbara, and you’ll discover a collection of hypnotizing waterfalls and idyllic swimming holes bounded by the narrow sandstone walls of Mission Creek. Yielding an unparalleled experience, this revered hike attracts eager adventurers year-round.

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Route Description for Seven Falls Trail

Indulge yourself in the unrivaled scene of the narrow, steep-walled sandstone canyon bisected by Mission Creek. Offering incredible scenery and a good workout so close to the city center of Santa Barbara, this route attracts a crowd. We encourage hikers to head out in the early morning to avoid the traffic and beat the heat! As to not disappoint you, it is important to note that the falls and creek frequently dry—so head out after rainfall to guarantee flowing water. Additionally, this hike requires some scrambling near the upper pools, so be mindful of your footing on the uneven terrain. Finally, note this adventure may prove too strenuous for children and dogs.

Though often busy, a trip to the Seven Falls Trail is well worth sharing. Full of wonderment, this stimulating trek is sure to impress with ocean views, cityscape sights, plunging waterfalls, and blissful swimming holes. When the waters flow and the swimming holes fill, this area boasts the perfect opportunity to escape the Californian heat and cool off under the shade of the canyon walls. Even when the creek dries, this hike maintains its charm, offering a unique ascent along the rock bed, revealing the grandeur of the punchbowl-like pools. The impressive scenery along this route will distract you from the heart-pumping climb and technical scrambles. We love this adventure along Mission Creek, and if you don’t mind boulder hopping, you will too.

Embark on your adventure along the Seven Falls Trail from the Tunnel Trailhead. Setting out from here, you will be guided along a paved utility road, passing through a locked gate. Beyond the gate, the paved road continues—signposted as the Tunnel Trail. Wander this exposed route northeast, hugging the cliffside that offers wonderful views of the nearby mansions and distant views of the cityscape and the Pacific Ocean. On a clear day, you may even be able to spot the Channel Islands! Eventually, the path will cross a bridge over Mission Creek; here, there is also some dam infrastructure. Continue wandering, keeping left at the nearby junction.

You will ultimately divert left onto the Inspiration Point Trail at the next intersection following the Tunnel Trail. Here you will be granted impressive views of craggy sandstone bluffs protruding from the forestlands above. At this point, the trail has now transformed into a dirt path, guiding you down into the canyon of Mission Creek, and onto the Cathedral Peak Trail. Follow this route before diverging right onto the Seven Falls Trail and ultimately onto the Three Pools Trail. Be sure to venture down to the Seven Falls overlook, which boasts a beautiful scene of the collection of cascades plunging through the smooth sandstone canyon. Beyond this point, the terrain becomes increasingly technical, demanding some scrambling and careful footing.

Following the Three Pools Trail northwardly, the faint trail will run parallel to the creek before dipping into the canyon. You can expect to get your feet wet when the water is high! Carefully and slowly navigate the vertiginous scrambles alongside the creek, taking breaks as necessary and turning back if too strenuous. Eventually, the path will guide you to the first pool before summiting the second soon after. The third and final pool boasts the perfect opportunity to cool off after that tiring trek—assuming the water is flowing. Enjoy the refreshing waters before beginning your return, retracing your steps back to your vehicle.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does it take to hike the Seven Falls Trail?

Hiking the Seven Falls Trail usually takes anywhere between 1.5-2.5hrs.

When is the Seven Falls Trail open?

The Seven Falls Trail is open year-round, though the waterfalls are seasonal.

How long is the Seven Falls Trail?

The Seven Falls Trail is a 5.1 km out-and-back hike.

Is the Seven Falls Trail difficult?

The Seven Falls Hike is rated as moderate as it requires some boulder hopping and careful footing.

Insider Hints for Seven Falls Trail

  • Head out after rainfall to guarantee a waterfall
  • Bring a suit and take a plunge in one of the idyllic swimming holes
  • Wear a pair of sturdy, ankle-bracing footwear, you’ll thank us later
  • Hike in the early morning for a more tranquil experience
  • Parking is roadside and limited—so arrive early to secure a spot and park within the white lines to avoid a citation
  • Explore the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden Gardens after your hike
  • There is not much shade along this hike, so dress accordingly and wear SPF

Getting to the Seven Falls Trail Trailhead

The Seven Falls Trail 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

Seven Falls Trail Elevation Graph

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