Obern Bike Path -

Things to Know
Trip Log


Difficulty: Easy to Moderate • Mileage: 14.5
Elevation Gain: 800 ft. • Location: Santa Barbara, Goleta
Features: Loop Trip, County Park, Picnicking, BBQs, Beach Access

The bike path crosses several streets. Use caution as the vehicles often have the right-of-way.


The first four miles lead along the Atascadero Creek drainage and is level all the way. Access to Hope Ranch is a bit steep but only a few hundred yards in length. Once inside the ranch, there are a myriad of quiet oak-covered roads that you can take, all of them leading to some of Santa Barbara’s finest estates. The ride leads through the main part of Hope Ranch to Arroyo Burro Beach, where you can enjoy a delightful lunch or something cool to drink before heading back through the ranch.


The Basics

  • Length : 14.5
  • Gain : 600
  • Difficulty : Easy to Moderate
  • Path : With the exception of the main road leading through Hope Ranch, all of the side roads in the Ranch are privately owned.

Things to Look For

  • Points of Interest : Loop Trip,County Park,Picnicking,BBQs,Beach Access

Find Other Similar Trails

Difficulty: Easy to Moderate
Points of Interests: Loop TripCounty ParkPicnickingBBQsBeach Access
Locations: Santa BarbaraGoleta

Links & Resources


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Hike Details

  • Length : 14.5
  • Gain : 600
  • Difficulty : Easy to Moderate
  • Path : With the exception of the main road leading through Hope Ranch, all of the side roads in the Ranch are privately owned.

Access / Getting There

Trip mileage begins from the La Cumbre Shopping Center Area

  1. From Santa Barbara take the Ward Memorial exit (Highway 217) off of Highway 101. This leads to UCSB.
  2. A quarter mile before the university entrance, take the Goleta Beach State Park off ramp.
  3. There is plenty of parking in the park, although the gates close at sunset.


Things to Know

The Pacific Improvement Company’s first attempt to develop Hope Ranch into a series of luxurious estates in 1908 failed dismally. Despite the area’s natural beauty, in these horse and buggy days it was still too isolated. Little development occurred until the 1920s when Harold Chase, recognizing the profit potential of Hope Ranch, incorporated the Santa Barbara Estates Company in 1924 and bought 835 of the ranch’s choicest acres. 

“Las Terrasas” and “Florestal,” and other estates designed by two of Americas foremost architects, George Washington Smith and Reginald Johnson, were built within a few years, and by the early 1930s the Hope Ranch reputation was firmly established.


Trip Log

The Obern Bike Path
0.0  Goleta Beach. Near the entrance to the beach, turn right on the Goleta Bike Path and follow this for 3 miles to Puente Drive.

3.0  Puente Drive. Just after crossing Puente, the bike path curves sharply left and follows paved roads for a short distance. Take the first right (a sign marks the turn) and then follow this for several hundred yards to a small bridge and from there continue on to Nogal Drive, which is marked by a stop sign. 

Into Hope Ranch
4.2  Nogal Drive. While the bike path continues striaght ahead until it intersects Modoc Road, turn right onto Nogal and enter Hope Ranch. You’ll pass Vista del Monte Elementary School on your left and then as Nogal begins to climb, the Thomas Hope House on the right.

4.3  Via Tranquila. Just past the Hope House is an intersection. Via Presada heads off to the left and Nogal turns into Via Tranquila begins. Continue straight ahead on Via Tranquila it up a steep hill then after the crest, coast down it to Las Palmas.

5.3  Las Palmas. Turn right on Las Palmas and follow it down through the picturesque canyon leading down to the entrance to Hope Ranch Beach. Just past the beach turnoff (not open to the public) the road begins a series of twists and turns for .6 mile to Marina Drive.

6.6  Marina Drive. Curve left and follow Marina for a mile. Along the way look for Creciente Drive, just opposite Estrella Drive. A right turn onto it leads down through many beautiful beachside homes then back up to Marina near the east entrance to Hope Ranch. Go through the entry way, turn right and then the bluff's edge a bit until you begin the long downhill to Arroyo Burro Beach.

At the Beach
7.5  Arroyo Burro Beach. Provides a great spot to have lunch, the Brown Pelican, as well as a pleasant place to sunbathe for a few minutes before heading back to Goleta.

Note: For a longer trip that takes you along Santa Barbara's main beaches, the Harbor area and eventually to East Beach continue on Cliff Drive up to Shoreline (1.4), then down to the bike path which will take you past Shoreline Park (2.5), the Harbor (3.5), Stearns Wharf (4.1), and East Beach (5.1). This will add slightly more than 10 miles to your trip but lunch at the East Beach Pavillion is well worth the treat.

The Return Trip
8.9  Marina Drive. From Arroyo Burro Beach return back up Marina for 1.4 miles to Estrella Drive. Go right and climb a half mile to the crest of Estrella, then enjoy a soothing half mile of coasting down to Lago Drive. 

9.9  Lago Drive. Bear left and along the edge of La Cumbre Country Club to Las Palmas.

9.7  Las Palmas Drive. Turn right then almost immediately left onto Via Presada, which leads up over a slight hill and down to Via Tranquila.

10.2  Via Tranquila. Coast .1 mile down to Nogal to the stop sign then turn left and return back to Goleta Beach on the bike path.

14.5  Goleta Beach

On The Trail


The Obern Bike PathOne of the easiest ways to experience this splendor from Goleta is via the Obern Trail. From the county beach, take the bike path east towards Santa Barbara. It is 3 miles of level riding from Goleta Beach to Puente Drive. Thanks to the efforts of Vie and George Obern the 7 mile paved bikeway was first proposed by them in 1967 though it wasn't until the 1990s that it was constructed. For many years Vie (with her husband George’s wholehearted support) dogged the heels of County Supervisors, to promote trails, including backcountry trails in the San Rafael Wilderness, equestrian trails throughout the county as well as bikeways in the South Coast area. In 2004 the bikeway was named the Obern Trail in their honor.

NOTE: take care as you cross Patterson. The thick vegetation at the intersection makes it difficult for the auto drivers to spot bikers. 

At Puente you face a choice of routes into Hope Ranch—from Nogal or Via Huerto. 

Continuing east across Puente on the bike path leads to Nogal Drive (next to Laguna Blanca Elementary School). A right turn on Nogal leads directly into the ranch, where it becomes Via Tranquila. You’ll spot Hope House, finished in 1876 just after Thomas Hope’s death, on the right. A short, steep hill followed by a long downhill leads to Las Palmas.

Turning right on Puente leads towards More Mesa and Via Huerto. Just as you rise up onto the mesa, Via Huerto comes in from the left (look for the locked gate across it). The gate has been put across Via Huerto to keep cars from entering Hope Ranch here. Carry your bike around the gate, then ride up the hill. Follow Via Huerto and Via Bendita to Las Palmas. Personally, this is my favorite way in from the Goleta area as there is less traffic and a slightly shorter way to get to Arroyo Burro.

It is 1.5 miles of relatively easy riding to Arroyo Burro and the Brown Pelican restaurant from the entrance to Hope Ranch beach. For those of you with mountain bikes and a tide chart noting low tides, riding back to Goleta along the beach provides a real adventure. 

On the return trip by road, for variety take Estrella Drive off Marina and pedal up into the central Hope Ranch hills and coast down Estrella to the golf course. Or to avoid the Estrella uphill, follow Marina and Las Palmas back. As you ride past the lake on Las Palmas, look for Via Presada. This leads over a slight hill and down to Nogal where you can get back on the bike path. From there it is 4.2 miles to Goleta Beach.

On The Bike

On The Run

On The Walk

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Last Updated: Saturday, April 2, 2016