Near Santa Barbara, find an unspoiled beach paradise

Sunset  – September 8, 2005

Spend time on Ellwood Mesa, and it’s easy to see why so manypeople spent decades trying to save it. There aren’t many placeslike it left on the California coast.

It’s a place of wild contrasts: To reach the sun-washed mesa,you must first enter a dark and mysterious eucalyptus forest. Comelate fall, that forest fills with thousands of monarch butterflies.But until then, these woods have a spooky, Wizard of Oz-typequality that in no way hints at the sunny meadow just beyond.

Thanks to local groups and individuals led by the Trust forPublic Land, that meadow is now open space owned by the city ofGoleta. Known as the Sperling Preserve, the 137-acre parcel islaced with paths that are popular with joggers and walkers.Red-shouldered hawks prowl the meadow, and from the mesa’s shalebluffs, you can look out on shoreline that stretches east to wavesrolling onto Coal Oil Point. There’s also access down to a wildbeach ideal for walks along the surf’s edge.

INFO: From U.S. 101 just west of Goleta, take the StorkeRd./Glen Annie exit and go south. Turn right on Hollister Ave. andafter about 1 mile turn left on Coronado Dr.

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