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Buena Vista Loop



3.2 mile 5.2 kilometer loop
75% Runnable


Ascent: 889' 271 m
Descent: -901' -275 m
High: 1,312' 400 m
Low: 417' 127 m


Avg Grade: 10% (6°)
Max Grade: 34% (19°)


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Trail shared by John McKinney

A great, short loop in the hills above Montecito.

John McKinney

Features River/Creek · Views


Using this San Ysidro Trail, Buena Vista Catway, and Buena Vista Trail, this loop offers amazing views and a variety of terrain as it takes you through two canyons and traverses across the mountainside.

Need to Know

Re-opened after the December 2017 the Thomas Fire Closure. Use caution around loose soils, rolling rocks, and unstable portions of the trails. USFS staff continue to work with local groups and partner organizations to repair damaged sections of trails. Check USFS website for the most up-to-date information.


From the trailhead, the San Ysidro Trail parallels a residential driveway for a while before becoming a dirt road. 4/10 of a mile into your run, you'll come across a junction for the Old Pueblo Trail and the McMenemy Trail 1/10 of a mile later. Avoid taking either of these diverging trails and continue straight to follow the San Ysidro Trail. 8/10 of a mile into the run, you'll reach a junction with a hairpin turn to the right. Take this turn to follow the Buena Vista Catway as it takes you eastward across the hillside.

The Buena Vista Catway starts off fairly mellow before suddenly and steeply climbing up the hillside that you're approaching. After 20 or 30 minutes of running this ascent, you'll finally top out on a saddle and have a moment to catch your breath. The dirt roadway then transitions into a footpath, which will take you down to the bottom of Buena Vista Canyon via a couple of switchbacks. After crossing the creek, you'll see a junction with the Buena Vista Trail, which heads to the right (down the canyon). Take this right turn to follow the Buena Vista Trail.

The first half of this trail will gradually take you down the canyon's slope before the path flattens out momentarily. The trail then switchbacks down the east wall of the canyon at a steep grade before leveling out as it runs into Park Lane, which marks the end of the Buena Vista Trail.

From here, you can turn right on Park Lane to start making your way back to the original trailhead. Follow Park Lane for a little over half of a mile to reach an intersection with Mountain Drive. Turn right here to follow Mountain Drive, and you'll quickly arrive at the trailhead for the San Ysidro Trail, thus completing the loop.

Thanks to John McKinney, The Trailmaster, for sharing this trail description. To learn more about trails in California, check out his guides at The Trailmaster Store.

Flora & Fauna

Bougainvillea, sea fig, and numerous other exotic plants can be found along the start of the San Ysidro Trail.


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  4.0 from 1 vote


in Montecito


  4.0 from 1 vote
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in Montecito


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