There is nothing better in the 805 than a morning Point Sal hike! With a 1300 foot ascent-traversing over coastal mountains, a gorgeous secluded beach so fogged in/misted from the battering waves breathing deep upon the Paradise coast you can’t even see the beach when your on the Point, & miles of shrub dunes in between, glowing above the sand & red rock soil-Point Sal is straight from a Pirates of the Caribbean set..oh wait!
Nestled between Santa Maria & Lompoc, south of Guadalupe, getting there can b half the adventure! I found the best route was taking Betteravia road west, eight miles, until you will need to make a left on Brown street. You will then follow Brown street for another 6 miles until its termination at the Point Sal trail-head. On the CA State Parks website it is very unclear as to which road is open & which is closed! I just took this route a couple days ago-its good. Also, since Point Sal is so close to Vandenberg Air Force Base they close down the roads when they have launches, so you should check their website to make sure the road/area is open (link at bottom of this page).
Now that you’ve checked the link, know the directions, brought lots of water, snacks & maybe a nice little picnic, your ready to hike Point Sal.
Once you get to the trail-head on Brown street, in the morning or early afternoon, you will start the five mile hike(each way) by ascending up a very wide trail encompassed & sometimes blockaded by a neighboring ranchers cows! Personally, I think the experience is awesome, but my sister was definitely freaking-out. Anyways, once you snake your way-up the hill you will weave through a couple more hills (still on a large trail) until you’ll reach a gate that says, “No Trespassing during Vandenberg Air Force Base activity”.
In the past my sister & I thought it was a “No Trespassing” sign & instead of staying on that main path, which we just realized our last time there takes you directly to Point Sal, we would make a right here & follow the little path that skirts along the riverbed until it splits off through out the dunes. I have not been on all the splits, but I think all the little trails empty at Paradise Beach. By this time you’ll have seen the ocean & will know which direction to head!
Going this way is a lot harder because your walking in sand, but there is so much amazing wildlyfe to appreciate, it really takes the experience to the next level! Also, as you go further through the dunes & what I call Turtle Hill (because the soil is a reddish brick color & in contrast with the different shades of shrubbery resembles a turtle shell) you will see a very interesting forest!
A handful of massive 100 foot trees at the base of the last dune before the ocean! Seeing them is cool, but it really makes me sad because either there was once a whole forest of them we cut down, or there non-native trees & shouldn’t b there!
That whole experience is only if you travel through the dunes, which is really fun, but for your fist time I would recommend staying on the main trail.
On the main trail after the, “No Trespassing” sign, continue past & get ready as you will soon b scaling mountain peaks that look like San Francisco streets! It is a great workout & you’ll probably b feeling-it the next day.
Although as soon as you reach that first peak & start to realize your reward, you can’t get out there fast enough! And what I think is just so unique about this State Beach is that you have Sal’s Point with amazing views of the whole Central Coast & Santa Maria Valley, elevated 1300 feet. Then when you’ve had enough of those beautiful views or get to hot you can just drop right down on Paradise Beach! A secluded, inaccessible beach from the north or south with HUGE waves & tons of amazing geological features!
Point Sal State Beach is truly a magnificent place where it seems genuinely wild & free of man’s wrath! It is a difficult hike, but i think provides the most accurate depiction of what it actually means to live in the 805. A genuinely unique experience!
http://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=605 &then click on-Vandenberg Air Force Base