Inspiration Point -

Things to Know


Difficulty: Moderate to Difficult • Mileage: 2
Location: Front Country, Santa Barbara
Features: Viewpoint, Sunset, Out & Back
User Type: Hiking, Equestrian Trail, Mountain Biking, Dog Walking, Trail Running


Inspiration Point is formed by the extension of the ridgeline leading off the southeast side of Cathedral Peak. Near the bottom the ridgeline flattens out, forming a promontory from which you can enjoy excellent views out over the city. The vista across the western flank of the Santa Ynez Mountains is particularly enchanting.

The Basics

  • Length : 75 miles to the bridge; 1.25 miles to the creek crossing; 2 miles to Inspiration Point
  • Gain : 800
  • Difficulty : Moderately strenuous; great workout.
  • Path : Paved road for 1st .75 miles; native soil tread with some rocky sections to the Point.
  • Season : All year.
  • Restrictions : Multi-Use. Multi-use; expect mtn bikes on the trail and coming down the paved road. Tunnel Trail is a favorite downhill route for mtn bikers. Be alert for them.
  • Canine : OK for dogs off-leash. Please pick up after them. There is nothing more unappealing along the trail than doggie bags or poop.
  • Points of Interest : Viewpoint,Sunset,Out & Back

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Trail Facts

Difficulty: Moderate to Difficult
Points of Interests: Viewpoint, Sunset, Out & Back
User Types: Hikers, Equestrians, Mountain Bikers, Dog Walker, Trail Runners
Locations: Front Country, Santa Barbara
Sub Regions: Mission Canyon

Get Directions To The Trailhead

Driving Directions
Get Directions to Inspiration Point which is located at 34.47198,-119.71452.

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Access / Getting There

  1. From the Santa Barbara Mission drive up Mission Canyon Road to Foothill and turn right, then turn left several hundred yards later (by the fire station).
  2. Continue up Mission Canyon to the Tunnel Road turnoff, a half mile before the Botanic Garden.
  3. Continue several miles to the end, which is marked by a locked gate.
  4. Park off the road so your tires are outside the white painted line. The police frequently ticket illegally parked cars.
  5. Follow the paved service road three-quarters of a mile. A few hundred yards after you pass the Tunnel trailead you'll drop down into the West Fork of Mission Creek.
  6. Cross the creek and continue 1.25 miles to the top.


Download Directions: Download PDF Map Directions

Get Directions To The Trailhead

Driving Directions
Get Directions to Inspiration Point which is located at 34.47198,-119.71452.

Use "Current Location" to start from your location or enter your city or zip to start from a new location.

Print Directions

Things to Know

After the Jesusita Fire, to satisfy concerns residents in Mission Canyon had regarding safe access out of the area during periods of high fire danger, Santa Barbara County designated the upper canyon area as a “no parking zone” on Red Flag Days. Cars parked there will be ticketed or towed on those days.


Trip Log

On The Trail

s you continue past the turnoff to Tunnel Trail, though there are no trail signs marking its beginning, you are just about to start up the eastern end of the Jesusita Trail. Look for the turnoff on the left which officially marks the trail’s beginning.

A short section of trail leads down and across the west fork of Mission Canyon. Along the way you get quick peeks up the canyon of Cathedral Peak and, if you look closely, the canyon walls which form Seven Falls.

Many hikers head up towards Inspiration Point in the later afternoon, both because of the lighting, which turns golden in the later part of the day, and the cool shade. Much of the 600-foot climb to the top of the ridge is in the shade by then.

Most of the hiking is relatively easy, with plenty of switchbacks to help you gain elevation without gaining too much horizontal distance. For most of the way you’ll find yourself immersed in the chaparral, although the occasional view back across Mission Canyon and up towards Tunnel Trail provide relief from the canopy of chaparral overhead.

Then at what seems like it might be the high point you cross a small saddle which provides a hint of what the views up on top will be like. Ahead of you are the power lines and just beyond the high point. Suddenly you come out of the chaparral and onto a wide dirt road. Across the road you will see the continuation of the Jesusita Trail. Fifty yards will take you to one of Santa Barbara’s nicest viewpoints. Exclamations of delight, the feeling of joy at being here and many moments of quiet contemplation are sure to greet you here.

Though you might think you’ve made it to Inspiration Point, you haven’t actually gotten there quite yet. Head back down the trail to the road, turn right (towards Santa Barbara) and look for a narrow trail leading off into the chaparral. It looks more like a game trail but actually it is quite nice. A hundred yards of meandering, at times with head ducked to avoid the overhanging ceanothus, will bring you to a series of boulder fields where you will find the actual point. You will know you are there if you find the carved initials which have been grooved into the sandstone.

On The Bike

On The Run

On The Walk

Last Updated: Sunday, November 9, 2014