Douglas Family Preserve - Santa Barbara

The Best Town Walks in Santa Barbara & Fun Things to do in Santa Barbara

Things to Know


Mileage: 1-3 • Path: Dirt Path • Region: Santa Barbara
User Types: Walks, Dog Walks, Family Friendly, Biking, Running, Kid Safe, Photography
Features: Viewpoints, Sunset

 Site of the historic Wilcox Nursery and now called the Douglas Preserve, the blufftop is off-leash for dogs and one of the best spots for watching the sunset.

Walk Details

  • Length: 1-2 miles
  • Path Type: Dirt single track trails and roads.
  • Cautions: Be careful with your kids and dogs; the drop off of the bluff is very long.
  • Use Fees: None
  • Canine: OK for dogs off leash.
  • Attractions:

    One of the best places to enjoy the sunset over the ocean.

Find Other Similar Town Walks

User Types: Hiker , Dog Walkers , Kids , Bicyclists , Trail Runners , Families , Photographers
Features: ViewpointsSunset
Region: Santa Barbara

Links & Resources

Get Directions To The Douglas Family Preserve Trailhead

Driving Directions
Get Directions to Douglas Preserve which is located at 34.402979,-119.739089.

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Access / Getting There

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..


Things to Know

What is now known as the Douglas Family Preserve is at the heart of a number of battles to preserve the coastal bluff tops and maintain wildlife corridors along the south coast for birds and mammals. Ironically, what has made much of this possible are the oil companies. The county collects about $1 million annually from those companies with offshore operations, which is used through its Coastal Resource Enhancement Fund to buy local properties for preservation.

Historically, the 69-acre bluff top was a plant nursery owned by Roy Wilcox until the 1950s. There have been efforts to develop this land since the 1960s when surviving members of the Wilcox family sold it to developers. Ballot measures in 1987 and 1988 would have authorized the city to purchase the land for a public park but both were narrowly defeated. In 1993, a proposal to subdivide the land into 45 lots was rejected by the City Planning Commission but it appeared that the Wilcox Property might be developed soon.

However, in 1996, armed with a $1 million dollar challenge grant from the Santa Barbara Board of Supervisors, the Small Wilderness Area Preserves (SWAP) organization began a major campaign to find an additional $2.6 million to buy the land. The organization's efforts were successful, thanks to the contributions of thousands of local citizens and one large grant from the Douglas' family.


On The Walk

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Last Updated: Monday, March 23, 2015