Tunnel Trail

This reflects the 10Adventures difficulty rating for each route. We aim to keep ratings consistent across regions.
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.
This reflects the return distance of this route as measured by the GPS file.
12.1 km
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.
750 m
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Directions to Trailhead

The Tunnel Trail is a demanding adventure into the Santa Ynez Mountains above Santa Barbara. Wander up through the arid terrain adorned with a dense community of chaparral brush up into the Mission Crags.

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Route Description for Tunnel Trail

This adventure is no walk in the park, but the views from the trail’s end prove well worth the effort. Climb through the mission crags up to an epic overlook—but you're in for a workout. Get your steps in and put your stamina to the test. While the exposed terrain offers incredible vistas, it also warrants extremely hot conditions, so head out to beat the heat in the morning. Additionally, the route is overgrown in sections, so we encourage the use of the trail GPS. Note parking at the trailhead is strict; park within the white lines to avoid a citation.

Setting out from the trailhead, the Tunnel Trail wanders northeast along the exposed cliffside trail bound by shrubs. Eventually, the path will guide you over a bridge atop Mission Creek. Here you will also find dam infrastructure. Beyond this point, the incline will intensify—take your time and stay hydrated as you climb. After navigating several switchbacks the route will redirect you north, and the terrain will become more manageable and gradual.

You will ultimately reach the trail’s end at the intersection with E Camino Cielo Road. Admire the beauty and grandeur of the encompassing Santa Ynez Mountains, Santa Barbara, and the Pacific. After reveling in the views and rehydrating, retrace your footing down the path back to the trailhead.

Getting to the Tunnel Trail Trailhead

Access this hike via the trailhead off Tunnel Road.

Route Information

  • Backcountry Campground


  • When to do


  • Pets allowed

    Yes - On Leash

  • Family friendly


  • Route Signage


  • Crowd Levels


  • Route Type

    Out and back

Tunnel Trail Elevation Graph

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Tunnel Trail Reviews

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