Carpinteria Beach Trail


The Carpinteria Beach Trail extends from the beach in the town of Carpinteria for 3.25 miles south to Rincon Beach County Park, 6.5 miles roundtrip.

The full hike has enough negative features that I wouldn't do it again and don't recommend it. Some of you may find it interesting so don't let me completely dissuade you from doing it. I do recommend doing two shortened versions of the hike, however, which are explained below. The full hike contains a section of a mile or more alongside the railroad tracks during which there are very few ocean views. In this section the ocean is blocked by tall vegetation growing on the ocean side of the trail.

As far as beach walks go, there are other far better places to walk which have a more secluded feeling.


Walk to Harbor Seal Preserve

This an easy 30-45 minute walk and covers about 1.2 miles roundtrip. This is one of the very few areas in southern California where you can see seals on the beach. This is a wonderful area and is definitely worth the minimal effort.

After you park in the parking lot (see directions below), simply walk on the trail that heads out of the ocean side of the lot. This pathway runs directly into the Carpinteria Beach Trail. This area of the trail is known as the Carpinteria Bluffs section, which is very beautiful. Turn right onto the trail. As you can see in the slideshow, this is a wide, flat and well maintained trail which parallels the ocean cliffs and the ever-present railroad tracks.

Walk down the trail a few hundred yards and you will eventually come to a section where the wooded fence ends and this open area allows you to follow the trail across the railroad tracks to get over closer to the ocean and the vista point from which to observe the seals.

Keep following the trail to the right along the cliff's edge towards the pier. Before you get to the pier you will see the seal preserve vista point sign which takes you to a small vista point with a few benches. Look down to the beach where you will usually see many seals lying along the beach all the way up to the pier.

The first time I came, in May, there were hundreds of seals on the beach. The second time I came, In June, there were no seals on the beach, but you could see their heads bobbing in the water. The third time I came, in June, there were 3 seals on the beach and others in the water. So, this is a warning that the number of seals can vary. I understand that the best times to come to see seals are from December through May.

Enjoy the sights and sounds, and then return the way you came.

(Below) A few of the hundreds of seals lounging around and lining the beach front on a day in May.


Please run the slideshow below to see the Seal Preserve hike taken in May:

PicasaWeb Slideshow




Map and Directions to Seal Preserve:

Just south of the town of Carpinteria take the Bailard Rd exit off the 101 Freeway and drive on Bailard Rd straight towards the ocean where you will enter a parking lot. Park there and enter the trailhead on the ocean side of the parking lot.

Google Map


Walk from Carpinteria Beach to the Seal Preserve and Carpinteria Bluffs:


This is an out-and-back 1.5 mile walk, 3 miles roundtrip.

Start out where the beach meets Linden Ave. in Carpinteria. I suggest you walk down to the beach and walk along the ocean south, to your left, towards Rincon point in the distance. This is recommended instead of going through the camping grounds to catch the trail. It's often very crowded in the camp grounds and walking on the beach is far more rewarding.

At about .4 miles you will see a lagoon off to your left which is frequented by local birds. It's an interesting place to walk around, and there's a bridge where you can cross over the lagoon a little ways inland.

At around .8 miles take the wooden stairs up to the bluff. If you cotinue on the beach you will come to the Chevron pier and you cannot go past this area as it is protected for the seals and you will have to turn around and come back to the stairs anyway to continue on.

Walk along the bluffs where there are excellent views of the ocean.

too be continued ...
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