Future Plans for Public Trails in Goleta Foothills?

Question & Answer (Edhat)

I was wondering if there are any plans in the near future for public access tails in the Goleta foothills?

We live in this area and many of us would really enjoy access to trails off Patterson, Fairview, Holiday hill or further west, whichever are feasible. Seems like Santa Barbara and Montecito have numerous beautiful trails through easements and other means.

Can something like this be accomplished in Goleta?

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  1. There was an agreement, I think it was in 1996, to create several access points in Goleta so that citizens could access our public land without driving into Santa Barbara. But there was a ten year implementation phase, and at some point during that time the process fizzled out. From my understanding, the paperwork is there from that process in the 1990s, and people have done the legal labor and research to make it possible, but there hasn’t been enough of a sustained political effort to make it happen. Part of the reason it takes a political effort is that any trail would require an easement that would pass along a mile or so of private property lines, which generates resistance from some private landowners. However, just to reiterate, the work has already been completed to prove that the public has a right to those access points, there just hasn’t been enough sustained political will to get them implemented

    • Great question this morning regarding front country access in the Goleta foothills. Hopefully Goleta residents wake up and realize that for more than twelve miles from Tuckers Grove to El Capitan State Park there is absolutely zero public easement for trail access to our beautiful coastal front range. Very few places are this beautiful yet out of reach except for a select few who are either land owners or friends of ranchers that permit access. The hiking possibilities could easily rival those of Montecito, Santa Barbara, and Carpinteria. Goleta is really a landlocked community that has never realized it’s greater potential as beach wise we really only have easy public access at Goleta beach and Haskells with zero trail access to our mountains. Now we have an opportunity ripe for a group or team of outdoor-community minded people with a vision and interest in improving the quality of life for generations as Goleta is growing way too fast without addressing growing outdoor recreation needs. The Goleta Foothills possesses some amazing watersheds, oak canopy forests, and even some of the best series of waterfalls in all of Santa Barbara County which most people don’t know exists off Fairview Road in San Pedro Creek. At some point all it will take is a working agreement with the City of Goleta, possibly the Land Trust working with an open minded family/ranch owner that would grant an easement in perpetuity. Often those working ranch/land trust arrangement benefit both owners and the greater community if worked out properly; Carpinteria recently has done this with their Franklin Trail development. An expert in the front country and back country is Ray Ford who often writes for the S.B. Independent and would be a great source of information as to how to reexamine the possible opportunities/challenges and best ways to get Goleta moving forward. Goleta trails would also help relive some of the strain on existing trails in the S.B. and Montecito network.

      As for parking impact which is always the first question and complaint that surfaces; Glenn Annie access point would come to mind as the greatest opportunity for initial front country access as the road is rural and a parking area could easily be created on exisiting county property there plus it is in an immediate straight line to the West Camino Ridge of where Lizard Mouth and “The Playground” a series of sandstone formations that many people enjoy from West Camino Cielo Road is.. A trail system to that ridge would make for a great and spectacular hike. If done right bike parking and drop off areas could easily be implemented in the parking design. to minimize parking overload but overall the parking impact would be no where near the chaos in Santa Barbara access points. The key would be if a trail network is built in Goleta we’d truly have ocean to mountain space that is accessible for all to enjoy.

    • I remember an announcement in the SB News-Press circa the 1990s that a public trailhead was going to be created starting from the top of Fairview Rd. The fact it was definitive enough to go ahead and publish may imply that easment(s) had been secured back in that timeframe?

      Some of the small roads up into our foothills are ostensibly private, but maybe are really maintained by public funding? If true then those would be good candidates for trailheads, because they extrend past most of the private land and up close to the National Forest land. For example, I wonder about N. La Patera starting from Cathedral Oaks, across from Stow Grove Park. And Google Maps shows that Glen Annie goes past the reservoir and extends well into National Forest land, so that’s another candidate. Looking west out to Hollister Ranch boundary we have many additional candidate places for trailheads.

  2. All in favor of public access and recreation for all. Access to easement is a touchy issue with property owners and for good reason. The public access in Hollister Ranch is still at loggerheads, I believe. No property owners want to be forced into some agreement and then be potentially liable. Land Trusts seem to be great for those who can get access, but It takes those parcels off the Country tax rolls and shrinks the tax base which can be in the millions annually!

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