Santa Barbara, CA

Carpinteria Salt Marsh and Nature Preserve

Photo: John Callen

These marshlands are situated in just outside the city of Santa Barbara, which means they are less populated (though just as gorgeous) as other waterfront runs. A bridge crossing and a fun little stone labyrinth keep the course fun, while flat grassy trails provide an easy cushiony run. The route through Marsh Park is relatively short and sweet, but you can always extend it with a jaunt out to 1 mile long Carpinteria State Beach or down Avenue del Mar to Sand Point (3/4 mile, one-way) where the Santa Monica Creek spills into the ocean. This run is your best bet if you want the waterfront scenery without the crowds.
Another good option in this area is the Carpinteria Nature Bluffs Preserve, where there are lovely trails overlooking the ocean. A wide gravel trail in the Preserve is about 1 mile, with great views north to the Santa Ynez Mountains and south to the Channel Islands. Many birds and other animals can be spotted along these paths. The trails also lead to the bluff’s edge with views down . It is 1 mile to get there from the end of the trail in Marsh Park, so one could put together a wonderful 6-7 run in this area. Depending on sand conditions and tides, you can also run along 1-mile Carpinteria State Beach, which parallels 4th St.





  • Marsh Trail: 1.3 miles RT; Preserve is about 1 mile of trails; Also Carpinteria State Beach is 1 mile
  • Sandyland Road Trailhead; Can also start at Preserve and run to marsh
  • Parking at Sandyland Road Trailhead. There's also parking in the Carpinteria Nature Bluffs Preserve