UCSB Lagoon / Coal Point Oil Reserve

A unique day of hiking that took me through the University of California, Santa Barbara and then further up the coast to Coal Oil Point.  I was treated to perfect weather, fun and nature.

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Sky on Fire

I began the day at Goleta Beach Park, the same place I began my Obern Trail/More Mesa hike.  This time I traveled upcoast in the opposite direction, west.  The sunrises in this area at this time of year are jaw dropping.

7   I quickly exited the park while hiking on a low, rocky bluff.

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The purples, pinks and blues of the early winter morning look almost unreal, like psychedelic art.  Photo 4 – My first destination was in sight from the start, Campus Point, a.k.a.Goleta Point.

9     10     11   To get to the point I would have to walk through the UCSB campus.  Photo 3 – The high point in photo is La Cumbre Peak, the tallest in the Santa Barbara Front Country.

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Santa Cruz Blue

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The UCSB campus is a total fantasy, complete with unbelievable views and beach access.  I didn’t go all the way down.  There are numerous beach access points along the trail.

15     17     18   I came to a dead end at a large, flat, concrete area in front of some buildings.  This spot is probably used for gatherings and it overlooks the east end of the UCSB Lagoon and out to the ocean.

19     20   In the morning these oil platforms twinkle with artificial lights.

21     22   I backtracked from the dead end and circled around the buildings.  I came to a lovely park-like area near the UCSB Marine Laboratory.  There is a loop around the school’s lagoon.  I stayed on the inland path first, and would finish the day on the ocean side.

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The lagoon is full of interesting birds.  This is a good destination if you’re a birdwatcher.

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33   The lagoon loop continued past the dorm buildings.  Things began to get a little less glamorous at this point.  Although I was right next to the lagoon, the sights, noise and odors of a large community overwhelmed the area.  Beep, Beep, Beeping trucks and the smell of cooking eggs and tacos permeated the air.  I came across the biggest dandelion I have ever seen and a pier made from plastic modules.

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I made the turn and headed toward the ocean.

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Looking back toward the campus and the 175-foot clock and bell tower, Storke Tower.

38     39   I reached the beach.  Instead of going left an completing the loop, I went right and continued up the coast.  I walked next to many apartment buildings but was buffered by this natural looking land.

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That is until I reached Del Playa , a busy road littered with tacky apartment buildings catering to students.  What a mess!  Photos 3 and 4 – Occasionally I came across a tiny, one lot park like this one.  Somehow these little pieces of land have survived the greed of many a real estate developer.


There were also several beach access stairways.  Clearly, there was no way anyone was going to walk up the sand with a tide this high.

46     47   I reached a larger park (still very small) and noticed that a trail began off the far corner.  I could now get off of the street for awhile.

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I was again trekking next to apartment buildings but was now on the edge of the bluff.  Big improvement.  That’s Coal Oil Point straight ahead.

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53   Another waterlogged beach access and a couple of nice trees.

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54     I soon reached Coil Oil Point.  There was a lot of surfing going on in the water below.  Surfers hike up and down a narrow path to get to and from the beach.

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There are a few placards explaining the point’s history.

63     64   Photo 2 – Lost keys waiting to be claimed.



Stormy ocean views from Coal Oil Point.

67   My plan now was to loop around another lagoon, Devereaux Lagoon, but I got confused as to where the loop began.  Was I supposed to walk down the beach.  I couldn’t make out any discernible trail.

68   I backtracked to the buildings on the point where I had seen a nearby, one lane road breaking inland.  I was assured by another hiker that this road would lead me to the lagoon.

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73   After walking up the road, still unsure of my direction, I came to the lagoon, or as a sign in front calls it, Devereaux Slough.  I began looping around this second lagoon.

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78   Taking the pond trail west got me off of the road.  Photo 3 – Stone-Age Alien: Petrified

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I briefly had to return to a road.  The continuation of Pond Trail is well marked.  I reached the sand after looping for a couple of miles, I would guess.  This lagoon is quite a bit larger than the one at UCSB.

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I considered heading further up the beach but instead turned back here.  For me on this day, this was the right call.

83   I decided to go around the lagoon one more time to add a couple more miles to my hike.  Why not when you can make friends like this guy.

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Closing in on Del Playa again, I rested on a bluffside bench and ate lunch.  Photo 2 – Santa Cruz Island looking mysterious.

86     87     88   Photo 2 – Teddy Bear splayed out on a bale of hay.  Only in a college town will you see something like this.

89     90   Now back at UCSB’s lagoon, I made for the beachside trail around Campus Point.

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93   Super sketchy trail which I did not take.

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96   Photo 2 – I point my camera in the direction of the dorm building and Storke Tower which I passed up close earlier in the day.  Photo 3 – Looking back up at Coal Oil Point.

97     98   Iceplant may not be native, but when I see it ,it just feels like the beach to me.

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Love these flat rocks in front of the point.

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This rock looks like a big doughnut.

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Surfers getting radical.


106     107     108   Photo 1 – Looking down the coast now, is this Santa Barbara Point, or maybe Rincon?  Photo 2 – Almost done with the loop, that’s the Marine Laboratory straight ahead.  After passing through the campus once again I headed for Goleta Beach Park.

109     110     115   Once back at the park I explored the pier. Looking back this seems like a bit of overkill. I was exhausted and had seen so much already.  Photo 2 – All alone at the very end of the pier.

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Views from the pier, panning east to west and then inland.

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I complete another super day of hiking.  Thank you, Santa Barbara.

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