Central Coast South - Santa Barbara - Shoreline Trail
Touring * Beginner * Scene *
From U.S. 101/State Highway 1 in Santa Barbara, exit at Castillo Street and head toward the sea. Turn right on Shoreline Drive and follow it to the pay parking lots at Leadbetter Beach. (Note: There's free parking near the end of the trail at Los Patos, and at the curb by the nearby beach, for those who arrive early enough.) Map: The Official Bike Map of Santa Barbara, Goleta, Montecito, Summerland, and Carpenteria; available free by calling (805) 568-3232.
Skated end to end, Santa Barbara's popular Shoreline Trail delivers a rich array of scenery, from bikinied beaches at one end to the marshy secluded bird sanctuary at the other. The coastal mountain range rises close to shore, displaying Montecito's ritzy hillside homes. The Shoreline Trail is wide, clean, and almost totally flat, hence irresistible to skaters of all levels. In summer, even weekdays bring throngs of tourists, pedestrians, and cyclists; come prepared to deal with the clueless. Starting from Leadbetter Beach, warm up on the concrete pad near the rest rooms and telephones just below the Santa Barbara Yacht Club and restaurant (notice the waxed curbs--sure signs of skateboard and in-line grinding activity). The trail connects Leadbetter Beach and the Yacht Harbor to West Beach, then travels the coastline next to East Beach. Take the 10-foot-wide sidewalk at the edge of the Leadbetter Beach parking lot past the little restaurant of the Yacht Club. Continue south as painted lines show the way through the parking lots that service the marina of Santa Barbara Yacht Harbor. A separated divided asphalt bike path starts at Harbor Way, supplementing the concrete pedestrian way that runs next to the Naval Reserve Center, eventually taking you across one last parking lot, where it crosses to the asphalt bike path on the left. Suddenly, as you enter the concrete boardwalk trail at Ambassador Park, skaters seem to be everywhere. And although a wide pedestrian way is on the left, that doesn't prevent the unwheeled from sharing your side of the Shoreline Trail. The view ahead starts with Stearns Wharf extending onto the aqua-blue sea. Beyond, the rows of statuesque palm trees are backed by the purple silhouettes of the coastal range, the highest being Rincon Mountain. At the end of the wharf, a fountain featuring life-sized, bronze dolphins makes a nice spot to stop and take in the view while you get a feel for the Shoreline Trail scene. Continuing from the far side of the pier, the path enters the vicinity of East Beach and the adjacent Chase Palm Park. Across the park to your left, the scenery opens up, with a great view of the hills above Montecito. If the crowds on the trail tempt you to cross the lawn and skate on the sidewalk bordering East Cabrillo, think twice, because the cement in such bad disrepair it's actually dangerous; though there are fewer moving obstacles, you must constantly weave and hop over the ruts, raised cracks, and sloppy asphalt patches to avoid a major crash. Near the end of Chase Palm Park, the trail crosses East Cabrillo at Milpas Street and continues on a bikeway with painted lines and the frequent posted admonition to use it "with courtesy and caution." But on a busy day that's sort of a moot request, given the sheer volume of pedestrians, skaters, tykes on bikes, families pedaling buggies, mountain bikers, and recumbent cyclists all vying for space. The now-asphalt path along East Cabrillo is landscaped with low shrubs and shaded by a row of trees as it passes a line of apartment buildings. After half a mile and another street crossing or two (watch out beginners--one is sloped), the dwellings end. Now a marshy pond appears close to the trail on the inland side: the Andree Clark Bird Refuge. As the trail skirts its perimeter, you can admire a picturesque hillside view of the Montecito Country Club. The trail comes to an end at Los Patos, near the freeway at the far side of the pond.
Aug 1, 1995
Aug 1, 1995