The coastal trail at Jalama Beach County Park follows the shoreline both north and south of the trailhead and parking, and depending on the tide, it can be either 1 mile or 3 miles. Low tide opens up much more of the beach for exploration, so it's a good idea to time your hike with your pooch for low tide.
The trail here is accessed via the Jalama Park campground, which features amenities for day-users like a store, restrooms, dog waste bags and receptacles, picnic tables with grills, and a couple of dog-friendly restaurants. Parking is $10 per car, and the dog fee to use the beach is $3. Turning right after the short path from the trailhead to the beach will lead you north to the park boundary at Jalama Creek. Here you'll see 30-foot eroding bluffs and exposed rock shelves that jut into the sea, which you can walk on to cross the creek. Continuing northwest will take you to the boundary of secluded and ultra-secret Vandenberg Air Force Base, where you'll have to turn around and re-trace your steps.
Heading south, past the trailhead, the beach narrows and at high tide it ends at seawall cliffs, but at low tide, you and your pup can continue along the cliffs, and walking on the flat slab rock formations, reach a spot where you can view the lighthouse at Point Concepcion in the near distance. You'll be accompanied by the tracks of the Southern Pacific Railroad.
Backed by the peaks of the western edge of the Santa Ynez Mountains and views of forest and wetlands, this coastal hike will also treat you to tide pools and and rocky outcroppings with beach caves. Along the top of the beach are sand verbena, saltbush and sea rocket, and your drive to and from the park is through working ranchland and vineyards, and fields of cultivated flowers among the lush rolling hills.
A pawrfect spot for picnicking, migratory gray whale watching, and birding, Jalama Beach is a remote, off-the-beaten-track escape from the hustle and bustle of nearby towns like Santa Barbara and Lompoc. Come during the week for optimal solitude, although this is never a busy, wall-to-wall beach blanket place. Arf!