Arlington Peak - Hiking

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One of the toughest - and most rewarding - hikes in Santa Barbara.

Written by

Jack Rogan


6.0 miles

Destination Distance From Downtown

4.5 miles


4 of 5 diamonds

Time To Complete

4 hours

2-4 hours


All Seasons

Dog Friendly


Fees Permits




Nicknamed "Gnarly" by some locals before discovering its official Forest Service name, Arlington Peak is a remarkably challenging and exciting hike.  While trail running is possible here, it is not for the faint of heart as the trail steeply winds through the brush until reaching the crops of boulders.  The last half mile or so consists of winding trails over and around a jagged spine of boulders.

What Makes It Great

Be forewarned that the winds can be quite strong at the peak. The summit area offers beautiful panoramic views of the mountains and ocean from Carpinteria to Gaviota. For enthusiastic, adventurous, aggressive trail runners out there, the fastest known time up and down is 46 minutes. The trail is dog friendly, not mountain-bike friendly, and requires good hydration - bring plenty of water and snacks. Be sure to check out the other hikes from this trailhead: Cathedral Peak (continues up this same trail), Inspiration Point, Jesusita, and Seven Falls.

Who is Going to Love It

The standard route on the southeast ridge has plenty of boulders and outcrops to scramble over. The ridgeline itself is thrilling when the wind picks up! Hikers and aggressive trail runners who like mixing in hands-and-feet scrambling to their day will love the scrappy nature of Arlington's slopes. Expect to go home with a few scratches and bumps!

Directions, Parking, & Regulations


From US Highway 101 in Santa Barbara take the Mission Street off ramp and turn right at the light. Continue on Mission street passing in front of the mission building to a stop sign at the intersection with Foothill Road. Turn right onto Foothill Road and left onto Tunnel Road. You will come to a fork. Take the left fork and drive all the way to the end. You can park on the right hand side of the road within the white lines. Additional parking may be found before the end of the road. Please do not park in the side streets. They are all private roads.


Arlington Peak

Santa Barbara, CA,
34.48277, -119.71458

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