Panorama of the San Marcos Foothills Preserve
What to See and Do

The San Marcos Foothills  provides excellent opportunities for low-impact recreation for people while preserving habitat for wildlife. Because sensitive animal and plant species occur on the San Marcos Foothills, recreation is limited to on-trail, pedestrian-powered activities that limit the disturbance of wildlife.

The 200-acre San Marcos Foothills Preserve property was donated by the Trust for Public Land to the County of Santa Barbara in 2007. The intent of the donation, and the reason the Trust chose the County to be the land’s long-term steward, is to ensure that that the Preserve property will be protected as open space for its biological, scenic, and archaeological resources.

The following recreational activities are permitted on the Preserve:

Hiking and Trail Running

Hiking and jogging on the San Marcos Foothills is enjoyable most anytime of the year. There is a well maintained, 2.6 mile trail that runs between the Preserve western entrance at Via Gaitero Road and the Preserve Eastern entrance at Antone Road. A side trail runs a short distance to the north in the middle of the Preserve and leads to a lookout that provides panoramic views of Santa Barbara and Goleta plus the Santa Ynez Mountains, Pacific Ocean, and the Channel Islands. Also, many species of wildflowers are visible during the late winter and spring season. Follow the links at left to view a trail map and for a list of plants that grow on the Preserve.

Dog walking (on leash only)

Many people enjoy bringing their pets to the Preserve for exercise (for themselves and their pets!). Follow the "Pets & Bikes" link to the left for more information.


Bird watching and the viewing of other animal species is also a popular activity on the Preserve. At least 128 species of birds have been seen on the Preserve and many species of mammals and reptiles can be seen there. Follow the "Animals" link on the left to find out more.


Per the County's San Marcos Foothills Preserve management plan, kite flying and "orienteering" are permitted recreation activities on the Preserve.