Though you may only be able to explore a small part of the salt marsh, the 230-acre preserve is home to hundreds of bird species, many of them migrating species whose ability to use the area critical to their survival. The preserve has great views north to the mountains and always seems to have a sense of quiet that makes the walking very peaceful. The early morning and evening are especially nice for bird watching.
Points of Interests: Family Friendly, Viewpoint, Benches, Out & Back, City Park, Open Space, Preserve
User Types: Trail Runners, Dog Walkers, Families, Kids
Marsh Bird Checklist
Great resource with images of birds whgich inhabit the marsh.
Teachers Guide to the Marsh
This guide contains activities associated with the Carpinteria Salt Marsh Reserve. It includes activities for marsh field experiences, classroom lessons (for field experience preparation and follow-up), and a word search for outreach events. 52pp.
Download Directions: Download PDF Map Directions
The Salt Marsh, known historically as El Estero, on the surface doesn't appear to be that spectacular but it is nevertheless one of the most important wetland areas in Southern California. Fed by the Franklin and Santa Monica Creek watersheds, the estuary is home to a number of rare or endangered plants and is a haven for more than 200 migrating and other bird species.
The marsh is 230 acres in size with 120 acres of this owned and managed by UCSB and the remaining area by the city of Carpinteria. The city has a volunteer program and thanks to this effort, docent-led tours occur every Saturday at 10am or you may walk along the eastern and a section of the north edge of the marsh at your own convenience.
Ash Avenue Entry
From one of the entry points to the marsh trail along Ash Avenue, you can either meander south to a boardwalk whcih leads out onto the beach or follow the trail north to the point where it curves to the west and crosses a bridge over one of the estuary channels.
From there you can continue around the outer edge of the marsh to the point where Franklin Creek enters it. Once you're reached the end of the trail, re-trace your steps back.
What makes the walk really nice is the quiet openness of the Reserve. To the north the Santa Ynez Mountains dominate; to the south, though you can't see the ocean, the sound of the surf crashing on the shoreline muffles out the sounds of the freeway and seems to have a calming feeling.
Along with the openness comes great opportunities to watch the various birds which inhabit the Marsh, both migrating species and yearlong residents — shorebirds, songbirds, ducks, waders, and raptors — species like the Belted kingfisher, Marsh wren, Great Blue heron, Tern and different types of ducks.