Summary: This is the hike of my youth. My friends and I used to come to this place for solace. The goal of the hike is to reach an unnamed, unfrequented, unspoiled, unpopulated pristine stretch of beach we locals call Paradise. Once upon a time a man named Kenny built a cabin, and it was loaded with poems, writings, art, and memories. The cabin is long gone, washed away by storms, but this is still an incredible hike, and an amazing place to spend a weekend.
It is a little more difficult now that the road is closed, because the hike up the road adds 5 miles to your total. I have friends that cross private property and hike in and back on the jeep trail, but I prefer the ridge and bluffs. It is some of the most amazing coastline in the world, and you should have it all to yourself. There is plenty to explore, and you can even make this a shuttle trip to Main Street Beach in Guadalupe, or climb up the sandy bluff and come back to your car on the jeep road - a shorter version.
Trailhead: From the 101 take the Clark Avenue exit in Orcutt, just south of Santa Maria. Head west until the road ends at Highway 1. Turn right and head northwest on Highway 1 for 8.25 miles. Less than a mile after you cross the railroad tracks, you will come to an intersection with Brown Road. You will need to turn left and head west on Brown Road for 4 miles. You will see a gated road on your left which is Point Sal Road. The last time I went the road had been permanently closed due to washouts. You will have to park at the gate and head up the road 2.5 miles until you see the ridge trail. It is easy to spot as there is a parking area there where the hike used to start.
Note: You can cut the distance and elevation in half by hiking on the jeep road through cattle pastures, just don't tell anyone I sent you. :-) (Lat:34.91797 Lon:-120.66488)
Trail Guides for Paradise via Point Sal:
Best Hikes With Dogs - Southern California
by Allen Riedel (Mountaineers books)
Day Hikers Guide to Southern California
by John McKinney (Olympus Press)
Walking the California Coast
by John McKinney (Harper Collins)
Best Seasons: Year-Round
User Groups: Hikers, Dogs,
Ranger Contact: None
Localhikes Reporter: This hike was submitted by Allen Riedel, who has posted 123 other hikes on this site. To visit this reporters web site, click here.
Trail Reviews Page 2 of 6 Submit your own review
Reviewed by Juli on 3/21/2010
Today was a beautiful day..lots of wildflowers! We took the trail off to the right immediately after you go thru the gate. Not bad and cut a lot of time due to switchbacks on the road. Followed other trails and just hiked around taking pictures. Next time all the way to the beach :-)
Reviewed by DickShock on 8/15/2009
Thanks for the advice, I love cutting through silly fences in this overly developed California Coast!
Reviewed by Jon on 8/5/2009
Both gates were open. The trail was steep and graded like a road. The AFB gate at the top of Point Sal was open - lots of stay on the trail warnings. The hike down through Vandenberg was steep and paved. Very hard on the knees and a terrible 3 mile 'trail' grade. Views were outstanding. We saw a couple just leaving and arrived at the beach with no one in sight. A private beach for the rest of the day. The beach was worth the hike, however if the County is truly considering a reconstruction of the road... I would suggest just closing the whole thing and cut a walking trail that stays a bit further out of the base. (I would grab the first canyon just inside the base and to the west, and switch back and forth all the way to the beach.)
Reviewed by michael on 7/24/2009
the road off of Brown Dr. is only open up to the trail gate(8miles RT). The gate through Castillo is also closed. I have not tried to to go on base, saving that for another day.
Reviewed by Jenn on 6/7/2009
Vandenberg has closed access for now.
Reviewed by Lex F on 8/13/2008
Not a complete review because we ran into a missile test. Vandenberg has a Point Sal trail status area on their web page. Before you head over to the trailhead, don't forget to check the site and see if the gate on top will be open. There was no indication at the bottom (2-3 miles from the gate) that the top was closed. address is: www.vandenberg.af.mil/pointsalaccess.asp
Reviewed by Lynda on 7/12/2008
I lived in Santa Maria for most of my life, and moved from there in 1987. My family and I used to visit Point Sal fairly frequently, and never had to hike. We did have to take a long walk down to the beach, but it wasn't bad. Sounds like things have changed. My memories are almost always having the entire beach to ourselves. In 1970 my sister and I found something on the beach, didn't know what it was, and started digging. It ended up there was a horse buried in the sand. We still talk about that. Great beach!
Reviewed by Gary & Cheryl on 6/20/2008
Estimated 7 mile hike (roundtrip) from the Guadalupe parking lot, some VERY steep dune trails to get there. There is a rope which helped tremendously! We were the only ones there, it was great. We saw mountain lion and deer tracks all over the place. It was between 90 and 99 degrees during our hike, bring lots of water!
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