I.V. Hot Trot Spots

Photo by Gabrielle Courtney

Gabrielle Courtney

Staff Writer

As of Nov. 17, Santa Barbara was ordered into another shutdown. While some things may be closed, these trails are always open. Here is a list of trails near the Isla Vista (I.V.) community that you may have never explored before. While some of the trails are secluded, definitely make sure to bring a mask in the event that paths are popping with people. 

1. Trail to Sands Beach 

Rating: 7/10

Photo by Gabrielle Courtney

This is a classic. If you’ve never walked this path, the trail from the end of I.V. to Sands Beach is absolutely beautiful. Not only is the journey alongside the ocean bluffs, but the cliff of Sands Beach is the ideal location for watching the sunset dive down into the ocean. 

Considering this is one of the more popular trails in I.V., you’re likely to bump into friends or other people you know. 

2. Campus Point 

Rating: 7/10

Photo by Gabrielle Courtney

For those living on campus, any of the Campus Point trails are beautiful to walk through. Considering the direction Campus Point faces, it is the ideal destination for watching an early sunrise. The upper bluffs are positioned perfectly for a portrait of the sun rising up above the ocean. Even for students not living on campus, the excursion is worth making the next time you find yourself visiting campus.  

3. Phelps Creek Trailhead

Rating: 7/10

Photo by Gabrielle Courtney

If you’ve already explored both Campus Point and Sands Beach, definitely check out the North Campus Open Space. Because the space is reserved by the University of California, Santa Barbara as a researched region, ecosystem, and habitat restoration site, it is untouched and the landscape remains seriously protected. The map above is located past the Phelps Trailhead and down the trail in the direction of the ocean bluffs, eventually leading to the butterfly preserve. 

4. Wells-Elings Marsh Trail 

Rating: 8/10

Photo by Gabrielle Courtney

This walk is a great space to be alone and internally reflect while walking across the bridges that overpass the marsh lagoons. The open space allows an amazingly clear view of the stunning sky while timing a sunset walk through the marshland. The pebbly terrain is a little bumpy, but certainly bikeable. 

5. The Butterfly Preserve 

Rating: 10/10

Photo by Gabrielle Courtney

If you’re looking for a longer walk, a hike through the Butterfly Preserve is ideal for you. I discovered the preserve by accident while exploring new running trails. Upon entry, I felt as if I was frolicking through some kind of heavenly paradise. 

Especially in the springtime, the surrounding butterflies and blooming flowers almost recreate the beginning scene in “The Sound of Music.” On the left is a view of the ocean below the beach bluffs, and on the right is a postcard picture of the Santa Barbara mountains. Depending on where you start, the preserve is approximately two miles from the end of I.V. or a mile exactly from the North Campus Phelps Trailhead. The preserve is also a great biking trail in the event that you aren’t in the mood for a 4-6 mile walk. 

How to get there: Take the path lining the Family Center near the I.V. elementary school. At the end of the dirt path is the intersection light of El Colegio and Storke Road. Past the Slough Trailhead is Venoco Road that leads all the way up to the entrance of the preserve. There’s also another entrance from the Phelps Trailhead that begins at the cul-de-sac of Atlantic Lane in the neighborhood by Girsh Park. 

6. Slough Trailhead

Rating 7/10

Photo by Gabrielle Courtney

Passed the I.V. elementary school, there is a road that passes the gate by the intersection light of El Colegio Road and Storke Road. Right next to the West Campus Apartments is the trailhead for Devereux Slough. This road is about half a mile long one way and eventually leads to the Butterfly Preserve. On the left is the Coal Oil Point Reserve and on the right is the North Campus Open Space. 


  1. BEAUTIFUL PICTURES, I remember all these areas, lV I have trekked them ALL. I always looked for you there. Jahbless

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