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Ray Ford

Douglas Preserve

A great place to see the perfect sunset.


Saturday, December 1, 2007

BEACH WALK INFORMATION

Distance-1-3 miles

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DIRECTIONS

From Highway 101 in Santa Barbara exit on Las Positas. Drive 1.75 miles south towards the ocean to Cliff Drive. Turn right and continue 0.2 miles to the Arroyo Burro Beach parking lot and park.

HIGHLIGHTS

Several hundred acres of almost level bluff top overlooking the coastline near Arroyo Burro Beach. The atmosphere is very relaxed and there aren’t really any formal trails. The walk along the edge of the cliff at sunset is one of the nicest you will find anywhere. The steps leading down to the beach at the end of Mesa Lane is nearby, making a very nice loop walk.

THE WALK

Though there is no direct access to the beach from the preserve, a wonderful loop hike can be made by combining a stroll through the 69-acre parcel, walking a few blocks to the steps at the bottom of Mesa Lane and returning back to the Arroyo Burro Beach parking area along the water’s edge. Often, in the late afternoon I do this walk in the opposite direction, following the beach and then making my way up to the park. The eucalyptus and fir trees along the top of the bluffs are perfect places to sit and watch the sun go down.

If you come often and take the time to sit for periods of time you are likely to see a variety of wildlife here: monarch butterflies in the winter months; great-horned owls and red-tail hawks, and if you are really lucky, perhaps a glimpse of a fox darting off into the bushes.

The easiest starting point for the walk is from the parking lot at Arroyo Burro Beach. Most people park near the beach but the lot extends quite a ways east along Cliff Drive. Follow this along the edge of Cliff Drive to the actual trailhead, which is right across the road from the end of Las Positas.

The trail leads up an old road to the bluffs through a delightful series of oak forests. Several hundred yards of climbing lead you up onto the mesa and one of the prettiest areas you will find in Santa Barbara. There are no “established” trails; rather an assortment of old roads, mostly overgrown now, which at one time lead through the Wilcox Nursery. However, if you stay to the right you will find yourself at the westernmost edge of the park, looking down almost directly on Arroyo Burro Beach.

The views are incredible as you continue along the edge of the bluff. There are openings in the fir and eucalyptus trees here and there and an assortment of places to sit on the trunks of downed trees and watch the sunset. If you would like to make this a loop trip, continue east along the bluffs until you reach the end of the property and the start of the residential area. It is a half block to Mesa Lane and the steps that will take you down to the beach.

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