Lobo Canyon on Santa Rosa Island - Hiking

Made possible by




Lobo Canyon starts in the typical southern California desert environment before cutting down through a lush explosion of local fauna and finally ending at a tiny inlet beach.

Written by

Kara Kieffer


5.2 miles

Destination Distance From Downtown

35.7 miles


4 of 5 diamonds

Time To Complete

4 hours


All Seasons

Dog Friendly


Fees Permits


The hike itself is free, though you will have to pay for passage to Santa Rosa Island.

Land Website

Santa Rosa Island



This stunning canyon hike offers the opportunity to drop into a vibrant world that is home to many native island plants. Follow a year-round creek as it winds its way toward the ocean and a protective coastal cove.

What Makes It Great

Simply said, this might be one of the most beautiful hikes you’ve ever been on. From Water Canyon Campground the trail starts out slowly gaining elevation along a dirt road that encircles the island. You’ll walk along a sweeping plane full of dry grass, home to the Island Fox, which is native to the island. In just more than four miles you’ll arrive at the mouth of the canyon, it is here where you’ll begin to descend into an increasingly beautiful ecosystem as you wind your way toward the coast.

Take your time to enjoy the spectacularly shaped canyon walls, which have been formed through thousands of years of erosion from wind and water. Lush vegetation, waterfalls, and stunning rock formations give Lobo Canyon an otherworldly feeling. Finally the canyon drops you onto the beach in a small and secluded cove.

Mileage Note: If you’re worried about the distance it is possible to get a ride from the campground to the trailhead with one of the docents who lead hikes on the island. However, be aware that if you do not do the Lobo Canyon Hike with a docent, there is no guarantee that he or she will be there to pick you up when you’re done.

Who is Going to Love It

This hike is perfect for naturalists and those looking for a real sense of adventure and discovery. It might also be good to go into this hike with the knowledge that mileage may vary. Enjoy looking at the unusual rock formations, and spotting the dozens of fauna that are native only to the Channel Islands. The cove beach at the mouth of the canyon makes for a relaxing lunch spot.

Directions, Parking, & Regulations

There are no fees to do the hike itself, but getting to the trailhead from the mainland requires some forethought and planning. To get to Santa Rosa Island you have two options: Book passage via boat through Island Packers or fly to the island with Channel Islands Aviation. If you’d like to stay overnight on the island, you’ll need to make reservations for one of the campsites at Water Canyon Campground, or else reserve a permit to backcountry beach camp, which are only available on certain beaches from mid-August through December. All camping reservations on the island are made through recreation.gov. As always, practice Leave No Trace etiquette. The island is home to many unique animal and plant species that can be found nowhere else, so please be sure to leave the area as pristine as you found it.

Similar Local Hiking Spots

See all

More Santa Barbara Activities

View Santa Barbara

More Lobo Canyon Activities

Santa Barbara Recommendations

Local Santa Barbara Stories


Lobo Canyon

33.99137, -120.048157

Get Directions