Jesusita Trail to Inspiration Point
[out of 5]
|For:||1200 ft. elevation gain, some steep parts|
This hike starts at the Cater water treatment plant at the end of San Roque Rd. It's possible to start at the other end of the trail, which junctions with Tunnel Trail (see Inspiration Pt). Since the end of the trail is just a junction with another trail, this hike description goes to an overlook called Inspiration Point instead of covering the entire trail.
This hike can be a challenge at 7 miles round trip. It's a beautiful hike in the shade that starts in riparian environs and ends up in the lower chaparral on a level ridge with a lovely and close view of Santa Barbara.
The hike is moderately steep at times 7 miles round trip with an approximate 1200ft elevation gain.
Jesusita Trail Directions
From the Mission, corner of Laguna and Los Olivos Street in Santa Barbara...
Head up Los Olivos toward the mountains. The road makes a jag and becomes Mission Canyon Rd.
At the stop sign, turn left on Foothill Rd.
Drive 4 tenths of a mile and turn right on San Roque Rd. Pass the W. B. Cater Water Filtration Plant. Park your car where there is a large wooden sign marked "Jesusita Trail" on the left. Trailhead is here. It may be easier to park in a dirt spur on the right.
(About 10 minute drive)
Jesusita Trail to Inspiration Point
From the Trailhead at the Jesusita Trail sign...
At the beginning, go downhill, avoiding the trail to the left. That one goes down to the creek and eventually to Steven's Park. Walk among some very tall weeds much of which is poison oak. Be very careful as you walk along the part of the trail that is cut into the side of the hill. It is very dangerous. A woman fell off the side and last I heard she is still paralyzed. Some of this precarious trail appears to be an overhang. I try to walk quickly and get the heck out of there.
At .5 miles, pass a picnic table.
At .75 miles, reach the fork in the road for the Jesusita Trail and the Arroyo Burro Trail. Each fork is marked with a sign. Take the right fork.
It gets a little confusing right away as you come around a curve and the trail seems to go in a couple of different directions. You should stay on the narrower path on the left side, not follow the wider path. The narrower path follows the left edge of the meadow.
At about the mile mark, cross the creek. You will cross the creek a couple of times. Some of the creek crossings are a bit confusing. Just take care to look ahead to where the trail comes out on the other side.
Eventually you will see that the trail is paralleling a road. This is a private road so stay off. The trail will cross the creek one last time and dump you out on to the road. At this point the road goes in at least 3 directions. You don't want to go right. You want to go straight and take the road as it curves up the hill in front of you, lined with olive trees. It looks like somebody's driveway.
At the top of this hill there is a large, green gate. To the right of the gate is a smaller gate for people like you to go through. It closes automatically. Right here there is also a drinking fountain. This is the only hike I know of that has a drinking fountain. There's even some water for your horse, if you have one, and a shady picnic table.
Passing the fountain now, head down the gravel road. Stay right. Don't take the left fork. I always get to talking here with somebody and find myself heading off to the left. Stay right and head down hill into the shade.
Pass some fiberglass pipes.
So now it's about the mile and half mark or so. The dirt road crosses the creek. It's muddy here. What you want to do is cross the creek but not on the road because the trail starts here againin the puddle. You can see it if you look up ahead toward a very large sign. The trail is going to head you off in a left-ward direction.
Now the rest of the hike is pretty straightforward. You follow the trail, it's pretty deeply shaded most of the time, and at times it is very very steep. There is one tricky spot where there is an intersection with an overgrown dirt road. Just head straight across, don't go left like it sort of seems you might.
So now you switchback up a bit, then you contour along for a while, maybe finally get some sunshine, then some more shade, then finally the trail dumps you out onto the dirt road. The good old Edison road. There are power lines along this road.
Follow the Edison road, taking careful note of where the trail ended so you don't miss it coming back. You don't want to turn anywhere, just follow the road in the same direction you are already heading. The road curves a bit and climbs a bit. And the dirt is now a reddish color.
As you climb the road, you'll come around a bend and there will be a trail in the scrub in front of you. This trail is pretty nice and parallels the Edison road exactly. You can take either one. I prefer the trail as it is more like a hike. If you take the road, you have one more chance to get on the trail ahead where the two are only a few feet apart. If you miss it, I don't think the view is as nice from the road as from the trail.
Inspiration Point isn't really a point. It's kind of like you are hiking along this trail and you get to a wide spot and the view's nice and you stop. It's not really much of a destination. There is a nice boulder part way up that's good for a sunset watch, but other than that, there's not a lot to sit on.
You can continue further on Jesusita to Tunnel Trail if you wish (see description for Inspiration Point), but I'll end this hike here. To get home, return exactly as you came. Approximately 7 miles round trip. Moderately strenuous.