Pets allowed
Allowed with Restrictions
Elevation Gain
2,073.00 ft (631.85 m)
Trail type
There-and-back
Distance
9.80 mi (15.77 km)
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

Point Sal Trail leads to one of the most spectacular beaches near Santa Maria Valley. This trail is not for the faint of heart: While the route follows an abandoned road and is wide and even, the elevation change and distance make this hike a bit of an endeavor. There was once a second entrance to the trail, but it has been closed for quite some time because of the Vanderberg Air Force Base. Now the only open access to Point Sal Trail is at the intersection of Brown Road and Point Sal Road. To get to the trailhead from Santa Maria, head west on Main Street for approximately 2.9 miles, then take a slight left onto Highway 166 and continue for 1 mile. Then, take another left onto Ray Road for 1.4 miles and eventually a slight right onto Brown Road. Follow Brown Road 6.9 miles down to a small parking lot just at the Point Sal Trailhead gate. Note: There are no restrooms, nor is there potable water, so please come prepared! 

At the trailhead you will see a large park sign and a metal gate. To the left there will be a small farmhouse tucked back in the trees. Unfortunately, there is no access to the trail for bikes, horses, or motorized vehicles. Dogs are allowed on leash. This area has had vehicle break-ins in the past. It's recommended to lock your doors and not leave any valuables in your car.

Once you pass the gate and start up the road, there will be an immediate shortcut option straight ahead. Please be mindful of the "No Trespassing" signs here and stay on the road for the entire hike! All land off of the road is private property and strictly off limits. The road will wind and rise through the hills, up and over the top, and back down to a pristine quiet beach. There will be a couple of cattle guard crossings and one large gate identifying the Vanderberg Air Force Base property line along the way. If you're quiet enough you will likely see wildlife such as deer, coyote, bobcat, birds, and more. In total, the hike is approximately 10 miles out and back. The last 100 yards or so are very steep and technical; however, you will have incredible views from only 2.5 miles into the journey. Although the hike does get steep, and the beach is a bit of a trek to get to, the views at the end make the trip absolutely worth it!

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)

Summer
Fall
Spring

Congestion

Low

Parking Pass

None

Open Year-round

Yes

Pros

Beach access. Beautiful vistas. Wildlife. No crowds.

Cons

Difficult hike. Isolated parking lot. Occasional closures due to local military operations.

Trailhead Elevation

664.00 ft (202.39 m)

Highest point

1,151.00 ft (350.82 m)

Features

Wildlife
Big vistas
Wildflowers
Bird watching

Typically multi-day

No

Permit required

No

Location

Field Guide

Nearby Adventures

Santa Maria Valley + Santa Lucia/La Panza Mountains, California
Santa Maria Valley + Santa Lucia/La Panza Mountains, California
Santa Maria Valley + Santa Lucia/La Panza Mountains, California

Nearby Lodging + Camping

Santa Barbara + Sierra Madre/San Rafael Mountains, California
Santa Maria Valley + Santa Lucia/La Panza Mountains, California

Comments

11/08/2018
Looks like a nice hike! Minor correction in the text and the captions: It's Vandenberg, with an "n," Air Force Base.
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