Toro Canyon Park
- Location: Santa Barbara foothills, near Montecito. From Highway 101 in either direction, take the Padaro Lane exit. If you’re coming from Santa Barbara, turn left, cross the freeway and turn right on Via Real. Turn right, go 0.5 miles and turn left on Toro Canyon Road. If you’re coming from Ventura, take a right and then the first left on Via Real. Go 1.4 miles to Toro Canyon Road and turn right. On Toro Canyon, go a mile to Toro Canyon Park Road (look for a sign just before it.) Turn right and drive 1.3 miles to the park entrance. Turn left into the park and go 0.2 miles to the upper parking area, where you’ll see a sign for the trail shortly before the sandstone boulders.
- Agency: County of Santa Barbara
- Distance: 1 mile
- Elevation gain: 250 feet
- Suggested time: 30 minutes
- Difficulty rating: G
- Best season: Year round
- USGS topo map: Carpinteria
- Recommended guidebook: Day Hikes Around Santa Barbara
- More information: Trip descriptions here, here, here and here; Yelp page here; Everytrail report here
- Rating: 6
This short but enjoyable trip isn’t particularly well known outside the Ventura/Santa Barbara area, but it’s well worth a visit, whether you’re in the vicinity for a longer hike or driving up the coast and are looking for a place to stretch your legs. Highlights include ocean and mountain views, a large sandstone boulder and a gazebo from which you can enjoy the panorama. Toro Canyon resembles Simi Valley’s Corriganville Park, but it’s more secluded and has more variety of scenery.
From the parking area, cross a footbridge and pass by a large sandstone boulder. Ignore a false trail branching off to the left and head right, making a steady ascent to a junction, about a quarter mile from the start. The right trail descends briefly before climbing; the left trail continues the ascent. Both directions reach the gazebo at the top of the ridge after about a quarter mile (half a mile from the start). Here you can sit and enjoy a view of the ocean–both to the southwest and southeast–and perhaps see a Channel Island or two. When you’re ready to go, continue down the trail back to the junction and retrace your steps to the parking lot.
Text and photography copyright 2014 by David W. Lockeretz, all rights reserved. Information and opinions provided are kept current to the best of the author’s ability. All readers hike at their own risk, and should be aware of the possible dangers of hiking, walking and other outdoor activities. By reading this, you agree not to hold the author or publisher of the content on this web site responsible for any injuries or inconveniences that may result from hiking on this trail. Check the informational links provided for up to date trail condition information.