When you're looking to be outside, Santa Barbara offers some of the most nature heavy views and options outside of this urban city. With bustling streets backed by vast deserts and tall mountains, its no wonder the place is so popular for outdoor enthusiasts. The best hike in town though won't take you to the mountains in the north, but will show you some lush green vegetation along the ocean on the Douglas Family Preserve Loop.
This trail explores the Douglas Family Preserve, which has provided sights of over 70 acres of natural habitats of forests, grasslands, and wetlands since 1949. The trail that leads through the preserve is made from asphalt and packed clay, offering nearly 6 feet of area to explore that cuts through the vegetation. Once inside, you and Fido can run, play, and explore the area freely, without any worries of having to leash up your pup.
There are plenty of shady spots along the trail with benches and picnic tables, along with access trails that lead down to the rocky beach of the coast that showcases views of the bordering Santa Ynez Mountains. Halfway along the trail, you'll come across another access and exit point that leads into the bordering neighborhoods on the east side of the park. The trail continues its loops, showing off southern oak woodland, coastal bluff scrub, coastal sage scrub, riparian, coastal live oaks, Monterey pine and Monterey cypress, and some gorgeous species of wildflowers in the summer.
After finishing your loop, you'll come back to the entrance, where you'll have to leash up Fido before walking back to your car. It doesn't get better than the Douglas Family Preserve Loop, thanks to its sights of the mountains, access to the beach, and dog-friendly atmosphere that promotes fun, exercise, and socialization for you and Fido!
A good portion of the trail is uncovered and open to the sun, so bring sunscreen and booties for your pup so they don't burn their feet. The creek that surrounds the northern part of the park breeds ticks and mosquitoes, so bring lots of bug spray!