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Nature's Retreat for Humans and Dogs in Santa Barbara: Visit the Enchanting Douglas Family Preserve

Nestled on the clifftop of Santa Barbara's Arroyo Burro Beach ( aka. Hendry's Dog Beach) lies the Douglas Preserve, a hidden oasis that beckons visitors with its serene beauty and untouched landscape. As avid nature enthusiasts, we have the privilege of exploring this enchanting preserve with our pooches on the regular. In this insider's guide, we will take you on a journey through the history and natural beauty of the Douglas Preserve.

History of the Douglas Preserve

The Wilcox Nursery was established by Roy Wilcox in 1949 but closed in 1972. Afterward, proposals were made for a luxury hotel, a residential subdivision, and a retirement community. In 1996, the Trust for Public Land purchased the Wilcox Property for $3.6 million, with the help of Santa Barbara residents, who raised over $2 million. The property was renamed "Douglas Family Preserve" after actor Michael Douglas made a $600,000 contribution towards its acquisition. Today, it's a natural city park.

Beyond its historical significance, the Douglas Preserve is a testament to the importance of conservation efforts in preserving our natural heritage. The preserve showcases the unique ecosystems of the Santa Barbara area, including coastal bluffs, oak woodlands, and native grasslands. It serves as a sanctuary for a wide variety of plant and animal species, making it a haven for wildlife enthusiasts and nature lovers alike.

The Natural Beauty of the Douglas Preserve

As you step foot into the Douglas Preserve, you will be greeted by a breathtaking landscape that is sure to leave a lasting impression. The preserve boasts scenic trails offering panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean and the Santa Ynez Mountains. The coastal bluffs, adorned with vibrant wildflowers, provide a stunning backdrop to the waters below.

One of the highlights of the Douglas Preserve is its majestic oak woodlands. These ancient trees, with their gnarled branches and moss-covered trunks, create a sense of tranquility and timelessness. Walking through these groves, you can't help but feel a profound connection to nature and a sense of peace that is often elusive in our modern lives.

The Douglas Preserve: A Haven for Wildlife and Nature Enthusiasts

As you wander through the preserve's trails, listen to the rustling of leaves, breathe in the fresh ocean air, and let the beauty of your surroundings wash over you. Take a moment to marvel at the diversity of life that thrives in this unique ecosystem, and appreciate the efforts that have gone into preserving it for future generations.

In the embrace of the Douglas Preserve, you will find tranquility, serenity, and a connection to the natural world that is often hard to come by.

The Douglas Preserve: A hidden gem for dog owners

As dog owners, we are constantly on the lookout for new places to explore with our furry companions. This tranquil oasis offers a haven for dogs and their owners alike, providing the perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of city life. Douglas Preserve is a dog-friendly sanctuary that boasts a vast expanse of untouched natural beauty. This hidden space is a paradise for all those seeking tranquility and solace in the company of their four-legged friends. The preserve is carefully maintained to ensure a harmonious coexistence between nature and visitors, making it an ideal destination for dog owners looking to immerse themselves in the serenity of the great outdoors. The fresh air and open spaces invigorate their senses, allowing them to fully engage with their surroundings. It's a truly magical experience to witness your furry friend embrace their primal instincts in such a serene environment.

Exploring the trails and open spaces: A paradise for four-legged friends

One of the things that set Douglas Preserve apart from other dog-friendly destinations is the sheer size of the preserve and the fact that it is off-leash. With trails and 70 acres of open spaces to explore, it truly feels like a paradise for our four-legged friends.

As you wander along the trails, you'll come across breathtaking views of the surrounding beaches and hills. The sights and sounds of nature envelop you, creating a sense of peace and tranquility that is hard to find elsewhere. Dogs are free to roam off-leash in most areas of the preserve, allowing them to fully immerse themselves in their surroundings. It's a joy to watch as they bound through the tall grass, their tails wagging with unbridled happiness. Along the trail, you'll find a strategically placed water station where dogs can quench their thirst after a long walk. There are also dog waste stations conveniently located at the three entrances to the preserve, making it easy for owners to clean up after their pets. his enclosed area provides a safe and secure space for dogs to socialize and play off-leash. It's a great opportunity for dogs to make new friends and burn off some energy in a controlled environment.

Tips for a successful visit with your furry companion To make the most of your visit to Douglas Preserve, here are a few tips to ensure a successful outing with your furry companion:

  1. Observe leash rules: While most areas of the preserve allow dogs off-leash, there may be certain areas where leashes are required. Make sure to follow the rules and keep your dog under control at all times.

  2. Be mindful of wildlife: Douglas Preserve is home to a variety of wildlife, including birds, squirrels, and rabbits. Keep your dog on a leash or under close supervision to ensure they don't disturb or harm the local fauna.

  3. Practice good trail etiquette: Yield to other visitors, keep your dog on the designated trails, and clean up any waste they may leave behind. By being considerate of others and the environment, we can all enjoy the preserve together.

If you want to extend your adventure beyond Douglas Preserve, head to Hendry's Beach just steps below the preserve. There, you'll find an off-leash stretch of sand, a dog cabana where you can park your pooch while dining at the Boathouse Restaurant, and a coin-operated automatic dog wash in the parking lot so your furry friend doesn't bring the beach home. You can also walk to the nearby Mesa Lane Steps to walk the entire stretch of Hendry's Beach.

How to Get to the Douglas Preserve

The Douglas Preserve is easily accessible from downtown Santa Barbara with three entrances, including Medcliffe, and Borton ( both in residential neighborhoods), and one where Las Positas dead-ends at Cliff Drive. However, these entrances are not obvious.

map of the Douglas Preserve

Conclusion: Embracing nature's retreat with our beloved four-legged friends

The Douglas Preserve is truly a hidden gem for dog owners seeking a tranquil retreat amid nature. This dog-friendly oasis provides a space for dogs to thrive and explore, while also offering a place of solace and relaxation for their owners. By embracing the beauty of nature and spending time in the great outdoors with our beloved four-legged friends, we can create lasting memories and forge a deeper bond with our furry companions. So, the next time you're looking for a dog-friendly adventure, don't forget to bring your dog and head to Douglas Preserve. Explore the trails, bask in the tranquility of nature, and let your furry friend unleash their inner explorer. Together, you'll create memories that will last a lifetime and discover the joy of nature's retreat for our beloved four-legged friends.

GURU TIP: We love visiting the Douglas Preserve year-round, but especially during fall and winter sunsets, early mornings (hello birds!), and a day or two after the rain when the eucalyptus trees are most fragrant. Thank you to the Trust for Public Land, Santa Barbara residents, and the Michael Douglas family!


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