The Bates cliff above the beach, as it now exists

The Bates cliff above the beach, as it now exists.

Rincon Trail & Transportation

“Rincon Trail” Is Planned Above Bates

The City of Carpinteria is deep into planning and obtaining funding for a proposed extension of the California Coastal Trail above North Rincon (Bates) Beach. Locals call it “The Rincon Trail” and it is not without some controversy.


The goal is to provide a crucial non-motorized link to popular beaches and surfing destinations and would feature a functioning bioswale, storm water runoff management, a bridge for safe railroad crossing, and an acceptable hiking slope so it meets compliance with the American Disability Act (ADA) at no more than a 5% slope.

The path as currently proposed is designed for use by pedestrians, bicyclists, skateboards, motorized scooters, and persons walking dogs on a leash.  Horses will not be allowed.

The Trail will connect Carpinteria to the existing bike and hiking path to the south along the Ventura County coastline.

If approved, construction will begin in early 2022 with a completion date about 18 months later. When opened, the Trail is expected to attract 50,000 visitors a year.

There are two different routes currently under consideration.

Trail Path Option 1:

The Bates cliff above the beach, as it now exists

Option 1 is shown above with the yellow line.

The Trail starts at 101 freeway and Hwy 150. It parallels the freeway briefly, then it cuts across railroad tracks on a new footbridge bridge. There is a lookout point on the ocean end of the bridge.The Trail then turns east and parallels the ocean, exiting in the North Rincon (Bates) Beach parking lot. Altogether, the concrete Trail is about 5000 feet in length.

Our concerns with Option 1:

FOBB was concerned that people walking this path might look down and view the nudists on the beach below. As a result, Option 1 included a fence and signage along the bluff to prevent hikers loitering too close to the cliff's edge and accidently falling, since the cliff side is prone to erosion. Theoretically, the trail is set back far enough that we have been assured those hiking on the trail will not be able to peer over to see beachgoers on the sand below.

Alternative 1 Requires the top half of the cliff be removed, reducing the wind updraft required for the paragliders. Unfortunately, removing this much of the cliff will eliminate about 30% of the updraft from any onshore winds, so the paragliders will no longer get enough lift to fly over the beach.


Trail Path Option 2:

Alternate Route 2 is shown above with green line.

Option 2 is shown above with the yellow line.

The paragliders propose instead that the Trail be located on the freeway side of the cliff. It will parallel Highway 101 and terminate alongside the Bates Road offramp from the freeway, avoiding the Bates Beach parking lot altogether.  Option 2 allows most of the cliff to remain intact, so the paragliders are no longer in danger of being forced to leave.

Update, Spring 2021

Carpinteria Committee Recommends Inland Option 2 for Rincon Trail

In a surprise move, the Carpinteria Environmental Review Committee voted unanimously to recommend the inland route for the Rincon Trail. The April 13, 2021, hearing took over 2 ½ hours to review the 438-page Environmental Impact Report (EIR) IR report and to take public comment at the meeting.

The committee’s recommendations still need to be reviewed and approved by the City Planning Commission, and then by the Carpinteria City Council sometime during the summer of 2021.

Transportation To Bates Beach

Friends of Bates Beach has been in discussions with the Santa Barbara Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) about extending their bus line #21 to Bates Beach. This is to handle the accommodate the additional passengers wanting to traverse the Rincon Trail from/to its terminus in the Bates Beach parking lot.

We calculated our bus proposal can increase the Bates Beach population by about 300-500 people per day during peak summer months, which translates to approximately $500,000 in additional revenue to the local hotels, restaurants, and the City of Carpinteria.

We originally proposed an extension of the county-long bus line that ends at one mile away at Bailard Avenue before backtracking north again. We suggested a bus stop under the freeway bridge at the Bates Road offramp.  We were informed that CalTrans would not be in favor of this.

The plan currently being considered is to build an Uber/Lyft station in the Bates parking lot next to the Pavilion area for those who wish a ride back to town.  This idea will not be formally considered until the Trail is completed as everyone sees what the actual foot and bike traffic is along the new path. 

Friends of Bates beach remains interested in this idea as a way to bring more people to the beach from the train station and hotels in town. We plan to get the Chamber of Commerce and County Supervisors involved if this idea gains merit.