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Santa Barbara Shores Loop



2.9 mile 4.7 kilometer loop
99% Runnable


Ascent: 134' 41 m
Descent: -134' -41 m
High: 79' 24 m
Low: 25' 8 m


Avg Grade: 2% (1°)
Max Grade: 5% (3°)


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Trail shared by John McKinney

A short loop offering coastal views and butterfly watching.

John McKinney

Features Views


Using the Sperling Preserve Trail and the Butterfly Preserve Trail, this loop has amazing views from the top of high-standing coastal cliffs, as well as great opportunities to spot numerous Monarch butterflies just slightly inland.


Beginning from the parking area off of Hollister Avenue, the Santa Barbara Shores Loop follows the Sperling Preserve Trail southward toward the ocean. Following the Sperling Preserve Trail you'll soon run in and out of a ravine before staying to the right as the trail takes you to the eastern edge of the Sandpiper Gold Course. Once you reach this point turn left to continue following the trail as it runs along the edge of the golf course and dips in and out of another ravine while heading toward the coast. After roughly 6/10 of a mile of running from the trailhead you'll reach the bluff's edge.

From here you can run down the coast along the towering cliffs for about 3/4 of a mile to a beach access point. You can take this path down to the beach, but be aware it is one of the most tar-filled beaches in the state. Continuing along the bluff tops, you can run for 1/4 of a mile to a stand of eucalyptus trees before veering left to join a trail heading inland (northward). After running this path momentarily you'll reach the ends of the residential cul-de-sacs of the Santa Barbara Shores community. From here, turn left to follow the Butterfly Preserve Trail to the west. You'll run through this area, full of Monarch butterflies before once again coming to an intersection with the Sperling Preserve Trail, which you'll follow to the right (inland). 3/10 of a mile of running will return you to the original trailhead and parking area, 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

Monarch butterflies migrate to the eucalyptus woodlands along the Butterfly Preserve Trail during the winter (one of the three largest overwintering sites west of the Rocky Mountains for Monarchs).

Buckwheat, sage, fennel, mustard, and lemonade berry can be found along the bluff tops on the Sperling Preserve Trail.

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29 Views Last Month
580 Since Aug 2, 2017



View of the Ellwood Beach Trail as it runs up the coast.
Aug 1, 2017 near Isla Vista, CA
Down-coast view from the Sperling Preserve Trail bluffs.
Aug 2, 2017 near Isla Vista, CA


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