As a coastal enclave where beaches meet mountains, Santa Barbara County is one of those places that run the risk of having too much of a good thing. But fortunately we know a spot where you get views of both! Up on a ridge off a highway cutting through Goleta and Santa Barbara you’ll find Lizard’s Mouth, a massive sandstone rock with an overhang that resembles a gaping lizard’s mouth. At just half a mile (round-trip), the hike is short. From the trailhead, follow a singletrack dirt trail that weaves through sandstone boulders up a gradual hill for a quarter of a mile before meeting Lizard’s Mouth on the crest of the Santa Ynez Mountains.
Views of the Pacific Ocean stretch below to the south, where you can see as far as the Channel Islands. Your northern backdrop is the ridgeline of the Los Padres mountain range delineating the horizon. In between is a field of boulders and interesting rock formations among hills that make the area popular for rock climbers as well as hikers. It’s the perfect spot to scramble and explore, or sit atop one of the massive boulders.
BONUS BEER: Figueroa Mountain Brewery Taproom in downtown Santa Barbara (137 Anacapa Street, Suite F) has a tasty Lizard’s Mouth IPA brew. The taproom features indoor and outdoor seating, beers on tap, and growlers to go, plus food menus from local restaurants.
Directions to Trail: From Highway 154/San Marcos Pass Rd., turn west on West Camino Cielo. Follow West Camino Cielo for 3.6 miles (passing a sign for Lizard’s Mouth Rock along the way) before reaching the start of the trail on the west side of the road, which is marked by a wooden post and a large rusted drainpipe in the ground. Parking is located at dirt pullouts off the road. Dog-friendly!