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Santa Barbara Hikes

Rattlesnake Trail

Rattlesnake Trail and the Connector

[out of 5]
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For:Uphill, but relatively short
Star Lily
Star Lily on Rattlesnake Connector

This trail doesn't necessarily mean you will encounter a rattlesnake! That is just the name of the canyon. One canyon over from Tunnel Trail, this hike is also within 15 minutes of downtown. There is almost always plenty of water in the creek, and the trail is always shady, making this the most popular trail in Santa Barbara. It is also relatively easy compared to just about all the other trails in the area. It is well-maintained, gentle, and there are no mountain bikes allowed. 3.5 miles round trip.

The trailhead is adjacent to Skofield park and is marked by a very large sign just behind the rock wall on the road. Right away you are creekside, and after crossing the creek you climb up to a fire road. Following the fire road you return to the creek and cross again. The trail stays near to the creek, but not in it, and gently climbs to a meadow. Just above the meadow is a junction. To the left is the Connector which connects Rattlesnake Trail with Tunnel Trail. If you want a strenuous hike after the warm-up to the meadow, continue up the Connector and all the way up Tunnel to East Camino Cielo. Or, for less of an effort, take the other fork in the road and follow the steep switchbacks up a half mile to Gibraltar Road near where the rock climbers practice and the hang gliders take off.

Boulder, CO Leave No Trace Frountcountry program

Rattlesnake Trail and the Connector Updates

Update trail conditions

Posted: May 15, 2011, 9:08 pm
by: calli

Did this hike with my mom yesterday, May 14th. Was pretty overcast, which made for perfect weather for the open areas; no sunburn this time. Only went through about .5 litres of water each; and of course my dog Shio lapped up the creek water. The creeks were flowing nicely for this time of year. Was still able to rock hop rather than slosh through creek crossings though. Falls flowing nicely. Facing trailhead, we took the right side entrance and happened across the old dam remains...nice climbing.

Pictures can be seen here:

Posted: April 15, 2011, 9:35 am
by: Markpsf

Want to hike it today. Are the creeks crossable?



Posted: October 5, 2010, 8:26 pm
by: Cross Tie Walker

Hiked the Connector and Rattlesnake on the way down from Camino Cielo yesterday (Monday, 10/4/2010). As many have pointed out, the Connector from Tunnel to the meadow is in pretty bad shape. But once to the meadow, itís fantastic and even as dry as itís been there was a surprising amount of water in the creek. Lots of folks out for an afternoon stroll with their dogs.

Some of those pines the Sierra Club planted after (I think) the Coyote Fire donít look like they survived the latest fire(s), as some are dying (does anybody know what kind of pines those are?). Bigleaf maples just starting to drop some yellow leaves in the pools; very Vermont. Wink

Really nice to see how little of the trail (in the ravine) was burned.

Some photos at:


Posted: September 21, 2010, 12:57 am
by: Cross Tie Walker

Hiked the stretch between the Tunnel Junction and Gibraltar Road for a warm late-morning hike today (Monday, 9/20/10) while on our way up to Camino Cielo. The track is gullied a bit at a few spots, but overall the erosion bars have really held their own post-fire. The oaks and bays are never-say-die, putting out new growth and coming back pretty well. No water at the main crossing, but the little western tributary was flowing pretty well (much to the dog's delight). We shared a tin of sardines at the Connector Junction beneath the huge oak; a great little jaunt.

Photos at http://www.flickr.com/photos/umotamba/sets/72157624877602695/

Rattlesnake Canyon [/img]

Posted: July 4, 2010, 4:27 pm
by: bart merrill

Hiked up Rattlesnake to Camino Cielo, Sat. 7/3/10, the Tunnel Trail Connector is in terrible condition, lots of loose scree, sticker bushes and poorly maintained portions, seemed kinda dangerous. The remaining part of the hike was awesome, including the down towards Gibralter. Would like to see a day dedicated to trail repair. Any thoughts?

Posted: June 8, 2010, 6:32 pm
by: sbdolphin62

Went on the Rattlesnake trail to Connector trail on Saturday June 5th the 1 mile of the Connector trail is very high, high weeds with lots of stickers so be careful. But other than that it was awesome to Mission Falls. Satrt early it got really hot! Surprised backpack

Posted: January 10, 2010, 10:02 pm
by: sbhiker

Hiked Rattlesnake over to Tunnel Trail then up to East Camino Cielo. We parked at about 7 am. There were three other cars there. By the time we got back around 11:45, the street was packed. Saw only a couple of people on Tunnel Trail, but tons as we neared the Rattlesnake trailhead across from Skofield Park. Trail is in good condition, though slippery above the meadow on the way to the Tunnel connector. The trail from the connector to the top of Tunnel was in good hiking condition. backpack

Posted: December 5, 2009, 6:20 pm
by: redhathiker

Back from Rattlesnake Trail. 464 pictures taken. We hiked all the way to the Gibraltar Rd. About 5-6 miles round trip. 1550 feet elevation gain. Went through about 500ml of water per person. Plenty of water on the creek, but the trail doesn't alway go near the creek. We crossed the creek 3 times. The water was refreshing. Despite the burnt area (from Tea Fire of 2008), the scenery was beautiful and dramatic, especially on the last steep section (on Connector Trail) toward the Gibraltar Rd. We saw a few other friendly human & dog hikers, all having a good time. Hiking this trail is best done on a cloudy day like today; otherwise you could get burned by the sun.

Posted: October 13, 2009, 4:35 pm
by: WalkNWild

Today, raining, this report would be quite different.

But Sunday...We went up the very steep slope from Rattlesnake to the Tunnel fire road. At the top, where it meets the road, it was sprayed with that stuff that is supposed to reduce erosion. Kinda weird. Then we went up the road, then up the East end of Mission Ridge. From the top of Mission Ridge, it was somewhat of a slide down the backside 'shortcut' to the Tunnel Connector. The lower part of that 'trail' is overgrown as always and we found, looking back, that we could have gone to the right, through the burned area, totally easily to the Connector. The Connector has been worked, is in the best condition I have ever seen it! We made great time from there, then down Rattlesnake, on in.

Yes, it was a barren hike. Trail beds, of course, are plain to see. It was weird being able to see the Rattlesnake 'meadow' so easily on the way up. The road has been dozed, so you sink down a bit in a lot of places where it is not at all compacted yet. That is a scary thought with rains to come. Gonna be some gullying.

Some of the trail on the east most end of Mission Ridge is obliterated, but, as you may know, the trail essentially is along the spine, so just go up and it's there. I lost the trail for 20, 30', two or three times. What is strange is how safe it used to feel hiking rapidly through the brush tunnels, grabbing branches to swing along or help you up or down. Now there are no shrubs. What there is, is black charcoal limbs and stubs you don't want to grab or brush against, and the banks are dangerously steep in some places. We had to go slower and be careful. One advantage is some of the places you used to have to practically climb up/down, no longer exist. They are all smoothed over with soil, so you just walk up, albeit steep!

If you want to take others on this hike, you might want to hike it yourself beforehand to see how you feel per their hiking skills. You definitely have to pay attention.

It was great to see deer track and trail in various places.

Happy Trails!

Posted: January 13, 2009, 3:14 pm
by: BillV

The trail has been open for some time, is in good condition, and there's some water flowing again. The view up the slope to the monestary is totally burned out and looks more like a moonscape but you're past that fairly quickly. On weekends the trail is jammed with hikers like I've never seen before (groups of 15). This thins out dramatically above the meadow but if it gets any more crowded, they'll have to start handing out numbers. It's almost as crowded on the eastern (Tunnel Trail) side of Jesusita with it not being uncommon to have to park 1/4 mile down Tunnel Rd. from the trailhead.