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Montecito Sunset Hike | San Ysidro


Our primary route is a moderate-length out and back hike, but it is possible to do shorter variations and rejoin the group at our scenic turnaround point.

The main hike covers just under 5 miles roundtrip and has roughly 1350 feet of elevation gain. Three variations include a short hike of about 3 miles and 650 feet of gain, and two middle-distance hikes of roughly 4 miles and 1000 feet of gain.

On all these routes, the terrain is either dirt fire road or well-tended single-track trail.

Please be sure to bring water, a snack, an extra layer of clothing, and a headlamp or flashlight. 

Details of the hike are provided below…hope to see you there!

  •  Montecito Sunset Hike
  • Hike Type: Conditioning
  • Level: Intermediate
  • Route Type: Out & back or lollipop
  • Distance: 3-5 miles
  • Elevation gain/loss: 650-1350 feet
  • Terrain: Footpath and dirt road
  • Leashed dogs: Yes

Route summary: 

This hike will take us 3-5 miles roundtrip, through and then above San Ysidro Canyon, to the McMenemy Overlook and its impressive views of Montecito and the Pacific.

Our route begins at the San Ysidro trailhead on Mountain Drive, proceeds north along the San Ysidro Trail, passes several homes, and follows a mix of single track trail and dirt road for about a half mile.

At the half-mile mark, there are four route options:

> Short route – turn west onto the McMenemy Trail, proceed to the McMenemy Overlook, and then return back to our starting point by the same route. This out and back route is just under 3 miles roundtrip and provides approximately 650 feet of elevation gain and loss.

> Long route – continue on the San Ysidro Trail, turn west onto the Edison Catwalk at about the one-mile mark, ascend to the Girard Trail, descend on the Girard Trail to the McMenemy Overlook, and then return back to our starting point by the same route. This out and back route is just under 5 miles roundtrip and offers approximately 1350 feet of elevation gain and loss.

> Medium routes – there are two middle-distance route options. One is to follow the McMenemy Trail to the McMenemy Overlook per the short route, and then return to our starting point via the long route. The other is to follow the San Ysidro, Edison Catwalk, and Girard Trails to the McMenemy Overlook per the long route, and then return to our starting point via the short route. Both of these lollipop or figure-9 routes are just under 4 miles roundtrip and provide approximately 1000 feet of elevation gain and loss.

Please note that San Ysidro Canyon has some poison oak growing, though it is easily avoided in the sections of the trail we will be following on this hike. That said, you will need to walk attentively at some points on the trail and/or wear hiking pants, especially if you are highly allergic. 

The initial section of our hike is partly shaded, but the route steadily gives way to open hillside and chaparral. Since we begin in a relatively sheltered area and reach exposed areas above the Pacific, weather conditions can range from cool to hot and calm to windy.

In all cases, when we reach the McMenemy Overlook, we will stop to enjoy the great late-day or early-evening views of the Pacific, offshore islands, and surrounding coastal peaks. After our stop, we will return to our starting point as described above.


Please wear – hiking or athletic pants or shorts, one or more wicking shirts appropriate to the temperature, comfortable hiking or running shoes, a hat and other needed sun protection, your favorite undergarments and accessories, and a light pack to hold your gear.

Please bring – at least 1 liter of water, on-trail snacks, extra layers of clothing in case you become cold, a charged cell phone, identification, a headlamp or flashlight, a waterproof shell if rain is forecast, and any medications or anything else you might need on the trail.


Please park to the side of Mountain Drive in the established parking areas near the trailhead, and please be considerate of the residents in this quiet neighborhood area.

Carpooling and public transportation are encouraged, both to lower our carbon footprint and to reduce the number of parking spaces we use at the trailhead.

Please do not leave anything of value in your vehicle, at this or any trailhead.


By car, take the San Ysidro exit off of Highway 101. Turn north on San Ysidro Road and continue on it for about a mile to East Valley Road. Turn right on East Valley and follow it another mile to Park Lane. Look for the eucalyptus-shrouded entrance to this narrow road, just after crossing San Ysidro Creek. Turn left onto Park Lane, and then left again after a half mile onto Mountain Drive. Follow Mountain Drive for a few hundred yards to near where the road ends. Park nearby and look for the trailhead on the right/north side of the road.


Santa Barbara County Trails Council


1800 E Mountain Drive, Santa Barbara, CA
1800 E Mountain Drive, Santa Barbara, CA United States Get Directions

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