Local history and nature meet at Lake Los Carneros, a popular family and dog friendly recreation spot in Goleta. The park, part of the historic Rancho La Patera, offers visitors a chance to stroll along the lake, wander into wilderness, visit an 1873 Victorian home named Stow House, and even ride a train and the nearby Goleta Depot.

  • Features: Alcohol Not Allowed, Hiking Trail, Parking On Site, Parking On Street, Passive Open Spaces, Wildlife and Birding
  • Dog Policy: Dogs Allowed On Leash

This wonderful park is a slice of rural charm just ten minutes out of downtown Santa Barbara. The lake features a walking trail that is a favorite with folks trying to get a beautiful walk in during lunch. There are many office parks nearby, which make this a great mid-day get away. The lake and mountain backdrop make you feel like you are out in the country. One of the favorite things about this park is the abundance of life. There are almost always frogs croaking, birds flitting around and even the rustle of something with four feet nearby. The Goleta Depot Railroad Museum, Stow House, and Goleta Historical Museum, are nearby which is a wonderful spot for children who might learn history the fun way.

The 136 acre Lake Los Carneros recreation area is much more than a lake. There are numerous trails, small forests, and a bridge to explore. Los Carneros Park Trail is a 1 mile moderately trafficked loop trail that is good for all skill levels. The trail is primarily used for hiking, walking, nature trips, and birding and is accessible year-round. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

Lake Los Carneros is great for bird watching. In the summer checkout the flowering trees around Stow House for migrant Rufous and Allen's hummingbirds. During fall look for warblers, tanagers, and grosbeaks, who are attracted to the fruits of the shrubs planted along the pathways and around the lake. The lake itself is frequented by Soras, Great Blue Herons, Virginia Rails, and more. Anytime of year you will find raptors hunting for prey. This is a great place to watch the many varieties of ducks that migrate here in the winter. There are almost always a few kids in the area feeding them.

The Stow House, on the west side of the Lake Los Carneros recreation area, was once the headquarters of Rancho La Patera, on the original Rancho La Goleta. In 1871, William Whitney Stow, a legal counsel for Southern Pacific Railroad in San Francisco, purchased 1,043 acres costing $28,677 for his son, Sherman P. Stow. Sherman Stow built a Carpenter Gothic Victorian home on the site and moved into the house with his bride, Ida G. Hollister, in 1873. The family expanded the house in two major renovations in the 1880s and 1910s. The house was occupied by three generations of Stow descendants. Stow House is a rambling two story house and is the oldest frame house in the Goleta Valley. Visitors can experience historic Rancho La Patera by walking through the gardens, taking a guided tour of the Stow House, exploring the Visitor Interpretive Center, and by hands-on exhibits in the History Education Center.


From the 101 freeway exit on Los Carneros Road, which is about 10 miles west of Santa Barbara. At the top of the ramp, turn towards the mountains. Continue past the roundabout at Calle Real, you will find the parking lot to Rancho La Patera and Stow House on your right. Lake Los Carneros has numerous other entry points from nearby streets.