Lake Los Carneros County Park
- Location: Goleta. From Highway 101, about 10 miles west of Santa Barbara, take the Los Carneros Road exit (107) and head north. After the traffic circle, take the first right into the park, 0.3 mile north of the freeway and just before Covington Way.
- Agency: City of Goleta
- Distance: 1.2 miles or more
- Elevation gain: Level
- Suggested time: 30 minutes or more for trails; extra time for Stow House and South Coast Railroad Museum
- Difficulty rating: G
- Best season: Year round
- USGS topo map: Goleta
- More information: Yelp page here; park description here; website with photos and information about the park here
- Rating: 4
Local history and nature meet at Lake Los Carneros, a popular family and dog friendly recreation spot in Goleta. The small park offers visitors a chance to stroll along the lake, perhaps spot an egret or hawk, visit an 1873 Victorian home and even ride a short line railroad.
This post describes the quickest route around the lake which is about one mile, plus the distance to and from the parking lot. However, there are several side-trails to explore, so between the lake and the historical sites, it’s easy to spend a full morning or afternoon here.
Begin by walking past the railroad museum, the Stow House and the bunkers. You soon reach the loop that goes around the lake, though the water is blocked by trees. The route can be hiked in either direction; below it is described counter clockwise. Turn right and follow the path, shaded by oaks and eucalyptuses. The lake soon comes into view and you trace its southern end, contending with noise from Highway 101 and nearby Santa Barbara Airport. At about 0.5 mile, you pass by an attractive lone oak, a good shade spot for hikers with canine companions.
Soon after, leave the paved path and head north on a dirt trail. A short spur leads to a bench overlooking the lake while several other paths branch off to the right, providing opportunities to extend the hike. The main trail continues through a grove of eucalyptuses and reaching a boardwalk spanning the wetlands at the lake’s north end before returning to the Stow House.
Text and photography copyright 2016 by David W. Lockeretz, all rights reserved. Information and opinions provided are kept current to the best of the author’s ability. All readers hike at their own risk, and should be aware of the possible dangers of hiking, walking and other outdoor activities. By reading this, you agree not to hold the author or publisher of the content on this web site responsible for any injuries or inconveniences that may result from hiking on this trail. Check the informational links provided for up to date trail condition information.