Lake Los Carneros Natural Preserve is a large, natural open space to explore, birdwatch, and experience stunning views of the mountains and lake reflections. Throughout this special place, there are many different areas to enjoy. Walking around the lake, on both primitive trails as well as partially paved roads, is a highlight because of the diverse vegetation, birdlife (resident waterfowl, migratory birds, raptors and more) and vistas.
To the south and west of the lake, there are many other trails, oak trees, vernal pools and other places to explore, too. To the north and east of the lake are areas of eucalyptus trees, grasses, and bird houses, through which trails also traverse. Watch for animals everywhere. Some consider Lake Los Carneros to be the equivalent of a wildlife refuge.
If you like early California history and/or trains, adjacent to the Natural Preserve is Stow House, Rancho La Patera and Goleta Depot. See this Great Destination full description here.
304 North Los Carneros Road. There are three main entrances: Off of North Los Carneros Road and through Stow House grounds; at the corner of Covington and N La Patera Ln; and to the south of the intersection of N La Patera Lane and Monmouth Ave (most direct route to the lake).
City of Goleta
3.1 miles walking
Biking (mountain), Birdwatching, Hiking, Picnicking (no tables), Relaxing, Running, Studying/Reading, Viewing (mountains, lake), Walking, Watchable Wildlife
Lake Los Carneros was originally a duck pond (Stow Pond) and part of La Patera Ranch. To facilitate the irrigation of the first lemon grove in the area, a small dam was built, which was enlarged over time to create Lake Los Carneros. When the County of Santa Barbara acquired the property to create a park, using mostly state funds, the local community insisted that the entire area be kept in its natural condition. This special Open Space has a lot of interesting history.
There is an excellent checklist of the over 200 animals and plants that can be found at Lake Los Carneros. The Book, the Birds of Lake Los Carneros, written by Roger Millikan and Adam Lewis is also a wonderful resource. While exploring, it is fun to look for your favorite birds there, such as white-tailed kites and ruddy ducks. Here is a helpful link for bird identification, with great photos.
The City of Goleta is undertaking a new Master Plan for Lake Los Carneros.