Hendry's Beach (Arroyo Burro) to Goleta Beach
(Old-timers know it as Hendry's, but it's now Arroyo Burro)
This hike can start at either beach, but I'll describe it from Hendry's since if you don't go the whole way you at least can get much further with less worry about the tide than if you started at Goleta Beach.
Start out at the restaurant and go to the right. There are usually lots of people and their dogs at this beach.
You will walk along the beach the whole way, so there isn't much to describe to keep you from getting lost. There is a rocky point about a mile or more past the start where you won't be able to get past if the tide is high. So that might be as far as you get. It's a great walk nonetheless, with funky Hope Ranch houses on the cliffs and dolphins in the sea.
Eventually, continuing down the beach, you pass a structure built right on the sand. Somebody's party house? It looks abandoned. Past this you come to a somewhat private beach for the people of Hope Ranch, which is a wealthy enclave of Goleta. The beach isn't private, just the parking lot is.
Continuing past this, coming around the bend, you will be at More Mesa, the local nude beach. It's a really nice beach, especially in summer. Not everybody goes nude, though. There are some steps leading up the cliff, which is barren of development so far. That's how you know you are here. If you climb the steps you are on More Mesa itself. There is another way to get here besides the walk you just took. You can drive along Hollister northbound, turn left at Puente, and park near the junction of Mockingbird Lane. You can't park on Mockingbird Lane, but you walk down Mockingbird Lane and it becomes a footpath. You can follow it to the beach. It meanders a bit becuase people like to make various ways to stroll the mesa, but it's not like you will be completely lost as long as you are aiming for the beach.
Continuing down the beach, the cliff becomes more steep and foreboding. The beach feels lonely and remote. You may see some seals sunning themselves on the beach here. Eventually you will reach a rocky point that is difficult to get past except in the lowest of tides. There is a path sometimes above the rocks right where they meet the base of the cliff. Or you can climb around along the rocks to get through.
Once you pass this part, the beach is easy to walk on again for quite a while. Now it's really remote and there should be lots of seals on the rocks out in the water. It's a great place to kayak, too. You can kayak out from Goleta Beach to here pretty easily.
Eventually you pass several points of ropy, wavy, black asphaltum rock. The Chumash used the natural tar here to make their baskets watertight. In the hot sun, the tar will be soft and melted. By the way, if you have gotten a lot of tar on your feet along the way, baby oil will take it off quite well.
Two more obstacles will be in your path before you reach the parking lot at Goleta Beach. The first is one of the rocky points. One in particular is especially hard to get around if the tide isn't low. The second obstacle is the Goleta Slough. The river running from it can sometimes be quite wide and deep. And cold. You can usually walk through it, but sometimes it does look a bit too swift. It never seems to be easier to walk in the ocean, although some people do that. It's not bad in summer, but in winter that water is very cold!Now...
Let's say you couldn't get past More Mesa, the nudie beach, but you wanted to get to Goleta Beach. Well, you still can. Here's how:
Climb those steps up from More Mesa and turn left to walk along the cliffs. Along the way there should be a trail heading to the right. Take that trail. There may be more than one of these, so don't take the very first one. You want one some distance down the trail. It should take you through the fennel and horseradish field of the mesa and down into a canyon with a small creek. Sorry these directions aren't better.
Now you will follow the trail in this small canyon toward the left. Carefull of all that poison oak!
You will eventually come to some horse stables. This will be near to a road. You will emerge on the road, which is the very end of Patterson Avenue.
Follow the road past the Orchid farm and the eucalyptus, or lettuce or whatever they are growing. The road will cross a bridge and a bike path. Take the bike path to the left. Don't walk along it, unless you want UCSB students to run you over. Lots of room to walk next to it.
This is a really nice bike path to walk along. You are walking behind all the houses and mobile homes, along a farm and a creek. Then you are walking along a protected wetlands area. Eventually this bike path takes you back to Goleta Beach. Whew! You made it!
It's about 5 miles one way.