Ellwood Mesa/Sperling Preserve Open Space

Ellwood Mesa is a large, diverse Open Space with many terrific places to explore. In addition to beautiful trails through a eucalyptus forest, Ellwood Mesa also features stunning views of the Pacific Ocean and the Santa Ynez Mountains from cliff-side and grassy mesa trails. There are two places to access the beach, with swimming and surfing.

Importantly, the Goleta Butterfly Grove in Ellwood Mesa provides very valuable habitat for colonies of wintering Western monarch butterflies The clustering and flying monarchs are breathtaking and can often be seen from October through February, usually peaking in December. This is a very special place with local, regional and international significance.



South of Hollister Ave, between Pebble Beach Drive and Elderberry Dr., Goleta

Managed By

City of Goleta

Distance from UCSB

3.1 mi (walking)

How To Get There

Walk, Bike, Drive, Bus (does not connect all the way)

Things To Do

Biking (mountain), Birdwatching, Hiking, Horseback Riding, Picnicking (no tables), Relaxing, Running, Studying/Reading, Surfing, Swimming , Viewing (Ocean, Mountain), Walking, Watchable Wildlife

Fun Facts

The trail along the bluff at Ellwood Mesa is part of the California Coastal Trail.

Ellwood Mesa was protected as a result of extensive community planning, litigation, negotiation, and fund raising efforts, which resulted in a highly acclaimed land swap. Currently, the City of Goleta is implementing a major “Ellwood Trails and Habitat Restoration Project,” which will result in improvements in trails, access and other aspects of this Open Space.

To improve monarch butterfly habitat, the City of Goleta adopted Ellwood Mesa/Sperling Preserve Monarch Butterfly Habitat Management Plan, which is being implemented.

Other Information

There is a good mountain bike map and trail map for Ellwood Mesa.

Nearby Public Lands Worth Visiting

Haskell’s Beach Access Trail. To the west of Ellwood Mesa, past the golf course, there is Haskell’s Beach Access Trail which has two interesting aspects in addition to providing access to Haskell Beach. At the end of the trail, to the left, there is a marker commemorating where a Japanese submarine on February 23, 1942 bombed the California coast during WWII. This was the first attack on the continental U.S., and occurred during one of President Roosevelt’s Fireside Chats. There is an interesting write-up with historic photos of what occurred here that is worth reading.

Also, the Haskell’s Beach Access Trail passes through thriving, dense native coastal vegetation. There are excellent interpretive signs regarding the use of many of the plants in this area by the Chumash Indians.

For additional information about this area, click here.

Best Time To Visit

All Year

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