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Rincon Beach, Santa Barbara, CA

Marine geology at Rincon Point Beach

Rincon Beach, Santa Barbara County, CA

Makeshift hut on Rincon Beach

Rincon Point

    • Location: Carpinteria. From Highway 101, take the Bates Road exit (83), located about 14 miles east of Santa Barbara and 19 miles west of Ventura. Head south (turn right if you’re coming from the west; left if from the east) and almost immediately turn into either the parking lot for the state beach (left) or the county park (right).
    • Agency: County of Santa Barbara/Rincon Point State Beach
    • Distance: 4 miles
    • Elevation gain: 100 feet
    • Suggested time: 2 hours
    • Difficulty rating: G
    • Best season: Year round, best at low tide
    • USGS topo maps: White Ledge Peak
    • More information: Yelp page here; Map My Hike report here
    • Rating: 4
Rincon State Beach, Ventura County, CA

0:00 – Trail leaving the Ventura County side (click thumbnails to see the full sized versions)

Straddling the Ventura/Santa Barbara county line, Rincon Point’s secluded, scenic location make it popular with surfers and dog walkers. Hikers won’t want to miss the panoramic ocean views and marine geology here either. It’s a good place to stop and stretch your legs on a long Highway 101 road trip; L.A. area hikers can make a long day of it by combining a visit to this park with other hikes in the Santa Barbara area.

It’s arbitrary which parking lot you use, but for this post, assume a start from the Ventura County side, on the state beach. At the eastern end of the lot, follow the wide trail down to the beach (0.1 mile.) Turn right and begin heading west along the rocky shore, passing Rincon Creek. On the west side of the creek, the going becomes easier, especially during low tide when you can simply walk across the sand. At 0.6 mile you reach a staircase heading up to the parking lot and soon after, a concrete walkway also leads there. These can be turnaround points, but hikers can can continue west for another 1.5 miles to the boundary of the Carpinteria Seal Sanctuary. As you head farther west, the crowds thin out and you get to see more and more examples of marine geology: tidepools and grids of polished rock, sculpted by the ocean.

Rincon Beach, Ventura County, CA

0:03 – Arriving on the beach (times are approximate)

The boundary is marked by a red stop sign, just before the long industrial pier. Retrace your steps to the ramp and head up to the county park lot, then cross the street back into the state beach parking lot. “Rincon” means “corner” in Spanish, referring both to the corner-like shape of the point and its location in the corner of two counties.

Geology at Rincon Beach, CA

0:50 – Geology near the western end of the beach

Text and photography copyright 2016 by David W. Lockeretz, all rights reserved. Information and opinions provided are kept current to the best of the author’s ability. All readers hike at their own risk, and should be aware of the possible dangers of hiking, walking and other outdoor activities.  By reading this, you agree not to hold the author or publisher of the content on this web site responsible for any injuries or inconveniences that may result from hiking on this trail.  Check the informational links provided for up to date trail condition information.

West end of Ricnon Beach, Carpinteria, CA

1:00 – End of the hike at the Seal Sanctuary boundary


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