- Location: Santa Barbara. From Highway 101, take the Las Positas/Highway 225 exit (100) an head south for 1.1 miles. Turn left onto Jerry Harwin Parkway and follow it into the park. There is a $5 per vehicle fee on weekends.
- Agency: Elings Park
- Distance: 1.4 miles
- Elevation gain: 200
- Suggested time: 45 minutes or more to explore additional trails
- Difficulty rating: G
- Best season: Year round (park hours: 7 until sunset)
- Dogs: Allowed off leash but registration is required (one-time day passes are available for $5 per dog)
- Cell phone reception: Good
- Water: None
- Restrooms: None
- Camping/backpacking: None
- More information: Trail map here; Trip Advisor page here; Map My Hike report here
- Rating: 3
Elings (rhymes with “feelings”) is an unusual park. The 236-acre property is operated entirely by a non-profit organization, independently of any government agency, subsisting mainly on donations and wedding facility rentals. Unlike many suburban open spaces, dogs are allowed off-leash, although they must be registered, either for a $125 annual or $5 one-time fee. (The park’s $5 weekend vehicle entry fee is waived for registered dog owners.)
The Sierra Club Trail leaves from the parking area and switchbacks up a north-facing, oak-shaded slope, taking in some nice views of Santa Barbara and the Santa Ynez Mountains beyond. At 0.4 mile, you reach the top of the ridge, where you can enjoy ocean views from a stone bench. Continuing east along the ridge, you soon reach a large mesa with several official and unofficial trails crossing. You can make a short loop south across the mesa, passing by “Moser’s Meadow” overlook and a spot where a few plastic chairs have been arranged.
After circling across the mesa back to the ridge, you can either retrace your steps or pick up the eastern end of the Sierra Club Trail, which descends via switchbacks to the opposite end of the parking lot.
The park was named after Virgil Elings, whose donation of 100+ acres doubled the size of its predecessor, Las Positas Friendship Park. Eling’s son, Jeff, remains active in the park community, including maintaining its radio controlled car course.
Photo gallery (click thumbnails to see the full sized versions)
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.