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Carpinteria Bluffs Open Space & Seal Sanctuary

Carpinteria Bluffs Open Space & Seal Sanctuary

….or, “The Train Beach,” as this family pilgrimage site shall always be known to us. With trains, seals, and bathing poolets, this is a great family adventure destination – but train tracks and steep bluffs have no barricades so keep your little ones close.

The trail begins as a ramble on the mesa through dry brush toward the sparkling ocean. Then it channels along a colonnade of Eucalyptus trees at which point you’ll want to grab your toddlers’ hands because it empties right onto the railroad tracks, with enough train traffic that we’ve almost always managed to catch at least one train passing. The trail continues on the other side of the tracks, cutting a short corridor through brush before reaching the bluffs (hold onto those toddlers).

The first option from here is to scale the steep path down to the beach to the left. The shore alternates between sand and jutting rock beds – and you can follow it all the way to Rincon Point. We stop at the dimpled rock bed on warm days and bathe in the make-shift jacuzzis.

Back up on the bluffs, you can head north a short distance to reach the Seal Sanctuary overlook beside the pier. Benches are perfectly placed for watching the seals huddle and awkwardly heave themselves towards the water and then gracefully frolic once they get there. There’s usually a cargo ship or two to track. And in the late afternoon, boats unload oil rig workers at the end of the pier.

Just as you think you might never stop gazing out over the ocean, you hear a distance “toot, toot!” and hustle back to the train tracks just in time to see the Surfrider sweep past. Our recent search in the aftermath turned up corroded flattened pennies and nickels from decades ago.

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DIRECTIONS

Free public parking lot at trailhead.