Fire and floods have destroyed or made inaccessible many of the trails in our area. Read LPNF Alerts & Notices and SB County Road closure information.
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Santa Barbara Hikes

Red Rock

Red Rock

[out of 5]
For:Exposed to the sun, with many creek-crossings, but short.

The Rey Fire may have closed access to this trail. Check with the USFS.

Red Rock, at the end of Paradise Road on the Santa Ynez River is one of the most popular weekend destinations for summertime fun. It's a local party spot. Families, teenagers, hikers and all kinds of people come to this area to enjoy the deep swimming holes, picnic spots and campgrounds along the Santa Ynez River. This area is a car camping/picnic spot.

You will need an Adventure PassPass to park your car in the area.

The hike to Red Rock is only about 2 mile or less, round trip, but you will get your feet wet sloshing through the creek.

Red Rock is a deep swimming hole popular to weekenders. Sometimes drunk teenagers dive from the 40 foot cliffs into the narrow pool below, sometimes fatally, sometimes successfully. For this reason, and because there is a lot of drinking in the area, there is a strong police presence on summer weekends.

Past the Red Rock swimming hole you can continue sloshing your way along the creek, following an old jeep road to another deep swimming hole or two, and then at about the 3.5 mile mark, reach Gibraltar Dam, the reservoir for the City of Santa Barbara.

There is also an option to hike a high road to Gibraltar Dam and return to your car along the river.

The round-trip to the dam is about a 6 mile round trip hike.

Boulder, CO Leave No Trace Frountcountry program

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Creek crossings are dry. There is stagnant water in the three swimming pools leading to Gibraltar Dam.
Posted by: peacock  on  2014-02-17
hey guys- my wife and i hiked red rock to gibralter via the fire road. as one might expect, conditions are easy with no problems to report. no rattlers either :-) i took some pics and wrote up a small trail report on my hiking site. [url][/url]
Posted by: mattcav  on  2012-06-13
The road back to "Red Rock" is open now, after being shut due to flood. The park had a lot of vandalism from kids hiking back, so the trash is still a prob. :cry: some tables have been fixed, and trails are being worked on... :)
Posted by: mountaingirl  on  2012-03-26
Oh yeah..the litter at the main pools is nauseating. Your trash weighs less then half of what your full beer can/ food packaging weighs. smash it down, bag it and carry it out. There's trash cans at the MAIN PARKING LOT. You can't carry it the 1/3 of a mile to them? Pathetic!
Posted by: jbaysurfer  on  2011-07-25
The bridge just past first crossing (just before lower oso day use area has been deemed unfit for vehicle travel by the USFS Engineer. I find this ironic because I saw a Sherrifs vehicle out at Red Rock (sandstone) so apparently it's only unfit for public vehicles. That's a good thing for Red Rock (the closure) crowds wise. It's a 10 mile round trip hike, 16miles if your going all the way to the damn..and there's no water for most of it..unless you're treating it. I rode my bike up there, then up the high road all the way to Gibraltar (even a little past it..toward the mines) then backtracked intending to take the river on the return route. I could not find the trail from that end. My guess is nobody's hiked it since last summer? There is a road at "North Portal" That extends back to the west that dead ends. There is a tiny use trail that dead ends into brush that includes poison oak. I returned to North Portal. I found the road that leads to the pool at the base of the dam, well posted no trespassing from the City of SB. I got out my GPS, I tried to follow the road location as exactly as I could with my GPS and ended up just schwacking through thicker and thicker brush in what obviously is a flood plain. I was very close to the river, but with a bike I wasn't in a schwacking mood and know that carrying a bike across large river rock and bushwacking/fording the river wasn't going to be any fun so I returned back to the high road..climbed all the way back up it and returned to the parking area @ Red Rock. It was beautiful up there! I can't believe how green everything is and it's almost August! Can anybody help me with my routefinding below the dam? Is my intuition right that the trail is completely overgrown because nobody's hiked it from that end since last year?
Posted by: jbaysurfer  on  2011-07-25
Tried going to Red Rock today; Paradise road is closed at the first river crossing. I ignored the sign at the top of Paradise road off the 154, thinking it may have been a deterant for bored teenagers on Memorial Day weekend - but it wasn't. After 4 miles I was asked to buy an Adventure Pass to park my car and walk the 6 miles to the trailhead for Red Rock. We had planned on doing the 6.5 mile roundtrip hike to Gibralter Dam, so since we had our dog with us I said forget it and we went to Lizard's Mouth instead. Looks like it will be closed for a while to come - very high water at the road closure.
Posted by: calli  on  2011-05-31