San Ysidro Falls – Buena Vista Loop

Keeping it close to the coast again this week, this time up in Montecito.  I kept to several lower trails but that doesn’t mean there wasn’t some steep climbing involved.  A short hike and a pleasant day.

1       2      3      4

Photo 1 – Morning Fire – burning off some kind of gas next to Highway 1 in Oxnard, on my way to Montecito.  I started off on San Ysidro Trail.  The first couple hundred yards of the hike is next to or crosses over a paved road.  There are signs to keep you on the right path.  As is typical of a Montecito / Santa Barbara area hike, the lower portions are rocky, run next to a creek and sit under heavy canopy.

5               6

There are several little pools alongside the trail.


The trail climbs steadily and passes over this steep section where a two-foot railing sort of keeps you from falling over the side.

8     9   Soon I approached San Ysidro Falls.  I want to give one piece of advice to those who might own a hiking book featuring this hike.  The book shows three trails, all right near the falls.  The book says that the trail to the right is a short scramble, the trail going straight ahead goes to the falls, and the trail to the left continues San Ysidro Trail up to East Camino Cielo road.  This is just plain wrong.  The trail to the right is the continuation of the main trail, the trail going straight ahead runs to the falls and the third trail does not exist at all.  I have no idea how the author made this mistake, coming up with this phantom trail, but this isn’t the first time I’ve been burned by bad directions from this writer.  Photo 2 shows the trail junction.  Again, the right turn is a continuation of San Ysidro Trail, which runs another 2.5 miles.  Going straight leads to the falls about 30 yards away.


San Ysidro Falls – just about dry on this day.

11   Just a a few drips

15   My plan was to turn around at the falls but I decided to check out the “short scramble” mistakenly mentioned in my guide book.  The trail gets quite narrow in areas but there are some nice views.

13               14

16     17   I backtracked back to the spot of two unsigned trails breaking off of San Ysidro Trail in opposite directions.  I took the one heading up hill to the south.  This is part of the Buena Vista Loop.  The beginning is pretty steep.  It reminded me of “Hell Hill” in Point Mugu State Park.


I think that pointy peak in the middle is Montecito Peak.

20     19   There was a bench under some power lines where I rested for a bit and found this card.

21       22      23       24

25       26      27   Photo 3 – After climbing the steep hill I was dropped down into the canyon again.  Invasive ivy is taking over.  Photo 4 – Some of the trail signs in the area are confusing and/or damaged.  This turnoff leaves the loop and leads up to the top again via about two dozen tight, short switchbacks.  Photo 5 – Skunk fur  Photo 6 – This spur trail leads to Buena Vista Overlook.  To get there go up the single track trail and then keep going up this fire road until you get to a flat spot at the top.  Photo 7 – There is an overgrown trail to the right of the flat spot on top that leads out to this bench.  Buena Vista Overlook, I presume?

28               29

30   Views from Buena Vista Overlook, from down coast to up.

31               32

Photo 1 – Down the coast on zoom  Photo 2 – Montecito below and Santa Cruz Island on zoom

33               34


I backtracked back down to the canyon bottom and continued on the loop.  The area is lush and green.

36     37     38   A sandstone cave – I’m sure this must have been used as a dwelling by some primitive family.  Photo 2 – Comes complete with built in shelving.  Photo 3 – And a guest bedroom

39     40     41   The trail spit me out on a road.  I went right and picked up Old Pueblo Trail in a hundred yards or so.  Old Pueblo Trail starts out on paved road.  Like all these other trails in the lowest sections, it is close to houses and roads and sometimes runs through private property.


Finishing a fine day in Montecito.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *