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Lake Los Carneros and Stow House

Lake Los Carneros was originally a natural wetland, and became a small freshwater lake when a dam was built in 1873 by Sherman Stow (the original resident of Stow House).  Today the lake belongs to the City of Goleta and is popular for walking, bicycling, fishing, and birdwatching.  Along with the usual mallard ducks, coots, and seagulls, visitors may see geese, swans, and other waterbirds in or near the lake.  The eucalyptus and oak trees along the trails are popular roosting spots for raptors, which can be seen hunting small animals in the open, grassy areas.   The gardens around the historic Stow House provide wildlife viewing opportunities as well, with a large population of acorn woodpeckers and many other birds.

Explore the Open Space


If you stand quietly outside Stow House, you will notice an abundance of birds using the gardens as their habitat.  Acorn woodpeckers especially seem to be thriving in this area, collecting acorns from the oak trees and keeping them in collections of storage holes called granaries.  There is a large tree near Stow House filled with granary holes and nesting cavities, and sometimes you will see woodpeckers storing acorns in the eaves of the house itself.

Access Information

There are two main ways to get into this open space.  You can either park in the Stow House/Goleta Railroad Museum parking lot off of the Los Carneros exit and approach the lake from the west, or park on La Patera off of Calle Real and come in from the east.  The wooden bridge that once completed the main loop trail has been deemed structurally unsafe and is currently closed, so visitors who want to go all the way around will have to either go out and back or use Covington Way to complete the loop.

Stow House is managed by the Goleta Valley Historical Society, and the lake and surrounding natural area are managed by the City of Goleta.  Fishing is allowed in the lake, but swimming is not.

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