GAVIOTA COAST, Calif. - An agreement to gain access to a small section of the Gaviota coast could be the beginning of a 20-mile trail for hiking, biking and horseback riding.
The location is west of Goleta, a short distance from Bacara Resort and Spa.
It's still going to take time and money to put all the pieces together, but the first step appears to be done.
A developer for the Paradiso del Mare project has agreed to offer a one mile trail path for the public on the ocean bluffs near the railroad track. The housing project calls for two homes in the area.
If building permits are issued, the trail deal begins. With it comes a $500,000 endowment as part of a larger budget necessary to develop this site and possible future trails, along with the rebuilding of an aging bridge over the railroad tracks.
The value can be measured in the views, and rarely visited coastal sites. "And of course from out here you can see, you not only look at the ocean and have a sense of the ocean, you can see the mountain and the hills," said Otis Calef with the Santa Barbara County Trails Council. "20 to 30 years from now this will be a wonderful community asset and people will say, 'wow!' "These little coastal valleys that go down to the ocean, they are heaven on earth. They are like paradise. Little spots like Arroyo Hondo are really precious and this gives the public a chance to capture that feel."
Plans for a coastal trail in this area go back over 40 years.
The section being considered as the first piece is about a mile long.
"For a 20-mile track this is the first mile. It's like a first step. Getting the first step in place is critical. We see this as a gateway," said Mark Wilkinson with the Trails Council.
Many properties on the coast are privately owned, making a full completion of the trails very challenging.
Along the way, invasive plants may be removed and replaced with native plants.