Parma Park is enormous and a fabulous open space, which makes it a popular place with hikers, bikers, and dog walkers. It is snuggled into the foothills, where you will find live oaks and sage, peace and quite and refuge from the sound of the highway. This is a very rustic park that has a couple of picnic tables and that's it. There are no other creature comforts. There are five entrances to Parma Park: Stanwood Drive West (main entrance), Stanwood Drive East, Mountain Drive North, Mountain Drive South, and El Cielito Drive.
- Features: Alcohol Allowed, Biking, Hiking Trail, Horseback Riding, Parking On Street, Passive Open Spaces, Views, Wildlife and Birding
- Dog Policy: Dogs Allowed On Leash
Residents seeking a large open space park close to town may want to visit this park. It is the largest City open space park, encompassing 200 acres of oak woodland and chaparral along Sycamore and Coyote Creeks. It is known for its history, habitat, and recreational uses including its popularity as a landing spot for paragliders and hang gliders.
The park provides passive recreation opportunities for hikers, dogs on leash, and equestrians. Mountain bike riders may use the park only on the fire/access road. Hang gliders and paragliders use the open grassland between the El Cielito and Mountain Drive entrance as a landing site. The main entrance along Stanwood Road includes a picnic area and equestrian staging area.
There are approximately six miles of trails including the Plateau Trail, Creek Trail, Stanwood Trail, Ridge Trail, and dirt fire/access road. A public trail easement also provides access via the Mountain Drive North entrance. For sweeping views of the City of Santa Barbara, Montecito, and the Santa Barbara Channel Islands, take the Ridge Trail to Rowe’s table. Named for Rowe McMullen, a long-time volunteer who helped establish trails in the park, Rowe’s table is the highest point in the park at 775 feet.
Parma Park contains three major creeks and a diverse array of native plant communities including chaparral, oak woodland, riparian forest, coastal sage scrub, and remnant patches of native grassland. Park vegetation and creeks provide habitat for wildlife and excellent opportunities for wildlife viewing, especially birds.
Portable barbecues are not allowed on picnic tables or anywhere in Parma Park because of wildfire danger.
The acreage was originally owned by the Parma family. G.B. Parma (1850-1912) came to Santa Barbara in the 1800s, opened a grocery store on State Street, and soon bought land in the foothills. Parma planted an olive grove on the north side of the property and also raised goats there. Remnants of the original olive grove can still be seen. In 1973, Harold and Jack Parma, sons of G.B. Parma, gave the land to the city to establish a natural preserve.