The stroll around the lake provides a wonderful early morning or afternoon walk. The lake and mountain backdrop make you feel like you are out in the country. This is a great place to watch birds, including many varieties of ducks thagt migrate here in the winter. The historic Goleta Depot and Stow House are nearby, where you can find out more about Goleta Valley History.
Stow House is one of the original homes contructed after the Civil War when WW Hollister and others begin to settle the Valley.
In the summer of 1871, William Whitney Stow, a former speaker of the California state assembly, visited the Goleta Valley. He was looking for farming property for his son, Sherman Stow. Colonel W.W. Hollister entertained the well-known politician at his Glen Annie home and during the visit suggested Stow consider purchasing the nearby La Patera Ranch, which he did in July, 1871.
One of the most important landmarks included on the property was the original duck pond — or la patera. This small body of water was called Stow Lake or Stow Pond by the owners but the Spanish word quickly became attached to the name of the ranching enterprise, and hereafter it was known as La Patera Ranch.
After securing water rights in the upper canyon through what was most likely a bit of dubious lobbying, the Stow family began building its agricultural fortunes. The first crop planted was tobacco, which failed due both to grasshoppers and a climate which was too mellow to produce good quality leaves.
However, in the spring of 1974, Sherman Stow planted the first of several thousand lemon trees on thirty acres of rolling foothills, which had been cleared of the once-predominant oak trees by hard-working ranch crews. The orchards and valley lemon industry continued to prosper under the management of Sherman's younger brother, Edgar, who cleared even more land using the first tractors seen in the Goleta Valley.
Edgar Stow also developed an extensive irrigation system by raising the dam on Stow Lake to impound more water and building three other permanent reservoirs on the property. T assuring both an adequate supply of water for the orchards, which comprised nearly 300 acres now, as well as the survival of the original patera, so that it might become what is today — one of the hidden jewels of the Goleta Valley.
Much of what was the historic La Patera Ranch is now part of the public park system. In 1964, the Stow company deeded Stow Grove to the county as a public park and in 1967, when the county acquired an additional three acres around the Stow House, the heirs donated the two-story house, thus creating the initial parts of what would become the park which is now known simply as "Lake Los Carneros."
The balance of the 136 acres of the park was purchased in 1975 from Boise Cascade with $1.25 million of state money. Initially, the county had plans to construct baseball fields and other developed facilities, but neighbors protested. "Leave it the way it is," they said. "It doesn't need any improvement." Fortunately, the county heeded this wise advice.