I was introduced to this beautiful coastal location by writer and hiking guide James Wapotich who says “Arroyo Hondo is considered by many to be the jewel of the Gaviota Coast.” The Preserve is managed by The Land Trust for Santa Barbara County. It features a year-round creek surrounded by oak forest, coastal chaparral, grassland, and coastal sage scrub. It is where the Chumash village of Tuxmu was once located.
We’ll start with a carpool from 23 S. Hope Avenue in Santa Barbara. At 10 a.m. we’ll drive from there about 30 minutes up the coast to Arroyo Hondo Preserve. Also, at 9 a.m., those of us in Ojai who want to carpool from there to Santa Barbara will meet at Maricopa Plaza (1207 Maricopa Highway, Ojai). Carpools are optional, of course. Those who choose to drive straight to Arroyo Hondo will receive detailed directions in a confirmation email.
The plant diversity at the Preserve is exceptional. In the creekside riparian habitat we’ll see a wide array of Southern California native trees including White Alder, California Bay, Blue Elderberry, Bigleaf Maple, and Coast Live Oak, among others. The creek is also home to California newts.
Under the canopy we’ll look for Giant Horsetail, Humboldt Lily, Gooseberry, Stream Orchid, Hummingbird Sage, and Giant Chain Ferns. In the sunnier sage scrub and chaparral areas Toyon, Black Sage, Coastal Sagebrush and Greenbark Ceanothus are thriving.
After some easy walking, identifying plants, and stopping for a lunch break, we’ll regroup at 3:30 at the parking lot for a private, direct-from-the-grower, native plant sale hosted by Santa Barbara Natives (SBN), a beautiful native plant nursery managed by Arroyo Hondo Preserve Manager John Warner. SBN carries an inventory of about 100 of the most popular local California native plants. John will bring a selection of those we will see on our walk. People who register in advance will have the opportunity to request specific plants.
Once you are registered you will receive an email with more information and directions to Arroyo Hondo. The cost for the day is $25. The Land Trust for Santa Barbara County also requests a small cash donation at the site to cover stewardship of the land. There is no pre-payment required to register. Participants will receive an email afterwards with notes and a complete list of all plants and animals observed.