The Douglas Family Preserve pretty much has it all. Perched on a bluff above the Pacific, it’s a popular spot for bikers, walkers, dogs, hang-gliders and kids. It’s an easy walk with trails that criss-cross throughout the preserve and amazing views of the ocean and the Channel Islands in the distance. The various trails cut through coastal oaks, grasslands and pines before opening to the ocean views. It’s also a few miles west of Santa Barbara’s densely packed downtown, and most tourists never discover this spot, making it a favorite among locals.
The story of the preserve is a fascinating one. The area – originally known as the Wilcox property – was slated for development with an upscale neighborhood and luxury hotel planned. That is, until a group of locals raised over $2 million to buy up the land, with a contribution of about $600,000 from actor Michael Douglas, hence the name.
Directions: From Highway 101, take the Las Positas exit south toward the ocean. Las Positas T-intersections into Cliff Drive. To start at Arroyo Burro Park (Hendry’s Beach), turn right then left into the parking lot (which is free). Hook left and park in the area parallel to Cliff Drive. The trail leading to the preserve is at the far east end of the parking lot. You can also skip the uphill hike and start at entrances at the end of Borton Drive or at the corner of Linda Road and Mesa School Lane. For parking, turn left off Las Positas onto Cliff Drive, then turn right on Mesa Lane into the residential area. Turn right on either Borton Drive (first right) or Mesa School Lane (second right) and proceed to the end of either street. Please be respectful of residents when parking.