This beautiful, undeveloped open space has numerous trails and is a hugely popular place for walking dogs because they are allowed off leash which is rare in Santa Barbara. The bluffs at the Douglas Family Preserve offer spectacular ocean and beach views. The oceanfront position of the park is a great location to watch for whales and dolphins. This large open-space that was donated to the city of Santa Barbara sits above Hendry's Beach. There are many downed trees that can serve as short-term seating so plan to linger as you explore this local gem. Be advised that three sides of the park are quite steep, especially along the oceanfront. This park has no restrooms or picnic facilities.
- Features: Alcohol Allowed, Biking, Hiking Trail, Parking On Street, Passive Open Spaces, Views, Wildlife and Birding
- Dog Policy: Dogs Allowed Off Leash (dogs must stay on leash while entering the park and until the off-leash areas signs are encountered within the park)
The 70-acre Douglas Family Preserve is located near the intersection of Cliff Drive and Las Positas Road in Santa Barbara's Mesa neighborhood. The Douglas Family Preserve provides passive recreation opportunities, such as hiking, dog walking, wildlife viewing, and bicycle riding. Off-leash dog use is allowed within the park in select areas. Hang glider and Paraglder opportunities are available for experienced users in one area of the park.
Entry to the park is from the east at Borton Drive, Mesa School Lane, Medcliff Drive, and at the Oak Grove Trail at the intersection of Las Positas Road and the southern side of Cliff Drive. Dogs must stay on leash while entering the park and until the off-leash areas signs are encountered within the park. There are over three miles of park trails, for you and your dog to enjoy.
The park supports several native habitats including southern oak woodland, coastal bluff scrub, coastal sage scrub, riparian (creek) and annual grassland. The park includes a variety of trees, including coastal live oaks, Monterey pine and Monterey cypress. Non-native ornamental plants remain from the property’s past use as a nursery, along with other exotic vegetation. City staff and volunteers have performed habitat restoration at the park, including providing habitat for the monarch butterfly.
The history of this park is particularly interesting. Many of the older locals remember is as the Wilcox Property because the property was once the site of the Wilcox Nursery, created in 1949 by Roy Wilcox. The nursery closed in 1972. As you wander the park, you can still find fire plugs, street curbs and drains that were once planned to support a resort and housing development but chance and a grassroots movement saved it. Money was collected but the prospects of success were looking grim, until at the last moment a very large donation came in from actor/producer and UC Santa Barbara graduate Michael Douglas. In 1996, the Preserve was acquired by the Trust for Public Lands and transferred to the city a year later.