Ellwood Mesa & beach access & Goleta Butterfly Grove - pat-fish added this area

Goleta, CA

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Ellwood Beach at Santa Barbara Shores Park and Ellwood Mesa Open Space is surrounded by open spaces that invite exploration. Ellwood Mesa is also home to the Goleta Monarch Butterfly Preserve. The county purchased this land on the mesa to protect it from the ever encroaching development. There are trails for hiking and mountain biking all over Ellwood Mesa which fills the gap between the Sandpiper Golf Club to the north and Coal Oil Point Natural Reserve to the south. Access to Ellwood Beach requires quite a walk from the parking lot. Look for the parking lot entrance off Hollister Avenue across from Ellwood Elementary School (lot is signed for the butterfly grove). Walk on the trails due south until you run into the bluff’s edge and then turn left until you find a route down to the beach. Due to this more remote beach access, it won’t be packed like better-known beaches in the area. If you walk south on the beach you will eventually get to Sands Beach at the Devereux Slough Lagoon entrance and if you walk north it leads to Haskell’s Beach at the Barcara Resort. If you want to see the butterfly preserve, just follow signage that starts at the parking lot. These beautiful butterflies spend winter here between November and February so that is the best time to visit.

Many thanks to TrailMeister reader Pat Fish for sharing this fabulous trail. Here’s her blog about it:

Every fall, as many as 100,000 monarch butterflies flock to eucalyptus groves on Ellwood Mesa, a 137-acre coastal bluff near the community of Goleta, north of Santa Barbara. Hikers, painters, wildlife enthusiasts, and picnickers come to walk the trails, witness the butterflies, or simply enjoy the spectacular views. For more than two decades, this magnificent coastal bluff was under continuous threat of development. We were able to structure a deal with the developer that would allow the land to be protected and then worked with the local Friends of the Ellwood Coast and the City of Goleta to raise $20.4 million in public and private funding in a little over two years.

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Land manager is Santa Barbara County – http://www.sboutdoors.com/ellwood-mesa-bluffs.html

The Monarch Butterfly Grove is NOT accessible by horseback, but the Ellwood Mesa around it is. http://www.goletabutterflygrove.com/

No fee parking, no fee to access