Rattlesnake Canyon

Rattlesnake Canyon Park, California

Elevation Gain1,246ft
Trailhead Elevation913ft
Elevation Min/Max886/1854ft
Elevation Start/End913/913ft

Rattlesnake Canyon

Rattlesnake Canyon is a hiking trail in Santa Barbara, California. It is within Rattlesnake Canyon Park. It is 1.5 miles long and begins at 913 feet altitude. Traveling the entire trail is 3.1 miles with a total elevation gain of 1,246 feet.

Rattlesnake Canyon Professional Guides

Detailed Trail Descriptions from Our Guidebooks

Best Climbs Santa Barbara and Ventura (Falcon Guides)
Damon Corso
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"Just up the canyon a short ways from Skofield Park is a popular hiking trail through Rattlesnake Canyon, and no, there aren’t rattlesnakes there. However, typically there is running water in Rattlesnake Creek at some point on the trail even during the hottest of summers. Rattlesnake Canyon consists of three main areas with a mix of bouldering and sport climbing along the trail. The history of the area is very spotty at best. It is thought that most of the rock here had been seen for years, with the earliest climbing potential possibly being discovered in the 1970s by Amos Clifford. This guide contains West Nile Boulder, The Creamery, and Renaissance Man Crag climbs."
Best Easy Day Hikes Santa Barbara (Falcon Guides)
Bryn Fox
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"Despite the daunting name, the hike through Rattlesnake Canyon is actually quite a peaceful one. You are no more likely to see a rattlesnake here than on any other trail in the area. A shady refuge on a sunny day, this trail winds its way up Rattlesnake Canyon, loosely following the creek for a gradual uphill to Tin Can Meadow. From here you can take in the view and retrace your steps home or continue onto the Tunnel Connector Trail to hike into the Santa Ynez Mountains."
Hiking and Backpacking Santa Barbara and Ventura (Wilderness Press)
Craig R. Carey
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"A very popular destination named for the fact the canyon snakes through the Santa Barbara frontcountry, the Rattlesnake Trail passes through lush riparian stretches toward a meadow before meeting with the Tunnel Trail Connector and then climbs to Gibraltar Road."

Rattlesnake Canyon Trip Reports

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This is a mildly strenuous trail through the canyon, with some awesome views of Santa Barbara and the Channel Islands. There are lots of shaded areas -- but it is pretty hot right now so prepare for a sweaty, toasty workout. You also have options--it can be as difficult or lengthy as a hiker wants.
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The first reason that this trail gets a two star rating from me is that the only sign is at the trail head making it difficult to find your way beyond that. There are trails braching off all over the place so we never really knew if we were on the right path. We simply tried to stay on the trails closest to the creek. At about the two mile point, where the connector to the tunnel trail is, I was able to figure out how to turn this into a loop by talking to some other hikers. That was nice because we didn't have to retrace our way back. The reason I say that, and reason #2 for a two star rating, is that the trail we took up was not very impressive as far as scenery. My expectations for hiking in the Santa Barbara area turned out to be too high. Definately not worth the drive from the central valley. If you live in the area this trail is fine, but if you have to take a long drive....drive to Big Sur! That is the type of scenery I expected, but the Santa Barbara mountains are not very good compared to the Big Sur mountains. Next time I am in the area I will try 7 Falls, maybe that one will be better.

Rattlesnake Canyon Photos

Trail Information

Rattlesnake Canyon Park
Nearby City
Rattlesnake Canyon Park
Rattlesnake Canyon Park/Los Padres National Forest
Local Contacts
USGS Santa Barbara
Local Maps

Trail Log