Hike to Inspiration Point Santa Barbara for grand vistas of the city, coast and Channel Islands.
San Roque Canyon is one of the great pleasures of hiking the Santa Barbara foothills. Fortunately for hikers, the Depression of the 1930s forced San Roque Country Club to cancel its plans and much of San Roque Canyon became parkland rather than a golf course.
Jesusita Trail extends 4.5 miles east-west from San Roque to Mission canyons. Between the canyons is a high ridge with viewpoints, including official Inspiration Point. Creekside flora, handsome rock formations, avocado orchards, grassy meadows, power lines and panoramic views are all part of the Jesusita experience.
Via Jesusita Trail it’s about 2.6 miles round trip with 700-foot elevation gain to the drinking fountain at Moreno Ranch; to Inspiration Point Santa Barbara is 6 miles round trip with 1,200-foot gain
The trail was the flashpoint for the 2009 Jesusita Fire, which burned more than 8,000 acres and destroyed 80 homes. San Roque Canyon’s native flora has since recovered somewhat and local volunteers have done wonders to re-hab Jesusita Trail.
Directions: From Highway 101 in Santa Barbara, exit on Las Positas Road and drive north two miles. Continue on San Roque Road, 0.4 mile past its intersection with Foothill Road to the Cater Water Filtration Plant.
The hike: Descend Jesusita Trail, soon passing a left-branching path that leads to Stevens Park. About a half-mile out, hike past a picnic table and at 0.75 mile reach a signed junction. Arroyo Burro Trail forks left; stay right with Jesusita Trail.
The path curves and ascends to an open meadow; follow the narrower path along its left edge. About a mile out, cross San Roque Creek, then re-cross it again a few more times. Jesusita Trail parallels a private ranch road and eventually meets it.
Follow trail signs and continue across Moreno Ranch to the top of a hill and a vehicle gate. Pass through a smaller pedestrian gate to a shady vista point , picnic table and a drinking fountain (the only one found along a Santa Barbara trail!).
Inspiration Point-bound hikers will continue down the dirt road into the shady confines of the canyon. At a creek crossing, Jesusita Trail resumes as a footpath, angles over to the south wall of the canyon, and ascends out of San Roque Canyon on a dozen or so switchbacks. Emerge on open, chaparral-cloaked slopes and get grand views of Santa Barbara and the ocean. Passing handsome sandstone formations, travel under power lines to the ridgeline and a junction with the Edison power-line road.
Head left along the road to meet footpaths leading left (north) and south (right). The leftward path is Jesusita Trail and it leads down into Mission Canyon. Reach Inspiration Point by descending east on the power-line road a short distance.
Look sharply right for a narrow, unsigned connector trail leading 0.2 mile or so to Inspiration Point, a cluster of sandstone boulders. Views from the 1,750-foot point include the city and coastlines of Santa Barbara and Ventura.