How good are you and your dog at rock-hopping and scrambling? You’ll need to put those skills to work on the popular 7 Falls Trail in the Los Padres National Forest outside Santa Barbara. It’s best just after a rain, when the falls are gushing. The 3.2-mile out-and-back is accessible and dog-friendly year-round. Parking at the trailhead is limited and strict, so stay behind the white line and don’t try to fudge.
And watch the signage along the way; you’ll pass several trail junctions, and it’s easy to make a wrong turn. If there’s been no recent rain, it won’t be a very fulfilling hike, but if there has been, you may have to slosh part of the way. There’s about 800 feet of elevation gain, and it can be challenging with all the rock-hopping required. Beyond the falls are three more waterfalls and pools, but it’s a rigorous route requiring a difficult rock climb not suitable for four-legged hikers!
The trail to 7 Falls begins on a paved access road. After a mile, it turns to dirt and leads to Inspiration Point. You’ll turn right instead and make your way to the destination. You’ll know you’re there when you hit the rock wall.