El Capitan State Park

Though a state park, the beaches offer a secluded walk in either direction.

El Cap
Ray Ford

Distance-6 miles east to Haskell’s Beach; 1.5 miles west to Corral Beach; 2.5 miles west to Refugio Beach
Topo– Dos Pueblos Canyon & Tajiguas
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From Fairview Avenue in Goleta, follow Highway 101 west for 11 miles (20 miles from downtown Santa Barbara) to the El Capitan turnoff. A winding road leads down under the freeway to the beach. There are no parking areas outside the park so you’ll have to pay for day use.

There is ample area at the beach for picnicking and frolicking on the beach, as well as scores of overnight campsites. A bike path leads along the bluff tops from El Capitan to Refugio, providing a nice way to enjoy the coastline from above, either by bike or on foot.

The walk on the beach to Refugio is one of the most enjoyable you can do, with lots of quiet beach and secluded coves. To the east you’ll find El Cap Point, a favorite of surfers when the swell is strong enough for the waves to break here, and beyond the point, a mile long stretch of beach that is wonderful to explore.

The beach front at El Capitan is so pleasant it is difficult to think of going anywhere else, but if you do you will find the beaches in either direction a wonderful treat. To the west you’ll notice a half-mile long stretch of very inviting sand. It is a mile to Corral Beach and another to Refugio State Park. Along the way, there are several points which can be very tricky to get around when the tide is up (and fun too!). It is a four mile round trip if you follow the beach one way and return via the bike path, a very nice length for an extended walk.

Down the coast is one of Santa Barbara’s best beach walks, a six-mile trek which will take you along one of the most remote sections of coast you will find in Southern California. With a shuttle car left at Haskell’s beach beforehand, this is the perfect walk. For a taste of what the walk is like, follow the path across El Capitan Creek and past the surfing area. A hundred yards of rocks lead to the bottom of the cove and from there you’ll have nearly a mile of great walking to the next point.


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