Parma Park - Steep Suburban Hiking with an Ocean View
Stanwood Dr (1 Mile west of Sycamore Canyon Road)
Santa Barbara, CA
Agency: The City of Santa Barbara, Parks and Recreation
Owned by the Parma family since the 1890s, this 200 acre parcel was donated to the city in 1973. This permanently undeveloped park features hiking, walking and equestrian trails, vista points, extensive creek side habitats, and abundant wildlife. The firebreak road may be used by mountain bikers and all trails are open to pedestrians and equestrians.
This has been my go-to park since I moved to Santa Barbara. It's minutes from my house and what I use to get my hiking fix in during the week, as my weekends have had me mostly full for the last 6 months.
There are about 4 miles of trails, but you can make it as long as you want to create loops.
From the top of the park you get a great view of the ocean and the homes on the surrounding hills. I usually take a break at the picnic bench that is at the top of the park and enjoy the sounds of the birds, and sometimes the construction that is going on in various parts of the neighborhood. The whole park burnt during the Tea Fire of 2008, where some students allegedly did not completely extinguish a bonfire before Santa Ana winds reignited it and started a ~2,000 acre fire that destroyed 210 homes. As a result, there are blackened stumps and other signs of the fire throughout the park. However, the park is lush and scenic and the wildlife doesn't seem to mind.
There is a lot of wildlife in the park for such a small area. I've seen coyotes, quail, roadrunners, owls, hawks, snakes, and rabbits. I've also seen deer track and countless birds. Bears and mountain lions likely have been there, too.
Although most of the hang gliders I've seen in Santa Barbara have launched from Camino Cielo and have landed at the beach, Parma Park is a also popular landing strip for hang gliders. There is a wide area on the eastern end of the park that would seem ideal for a landing strip.
The main entrance is off of Stanwood drive near a gate, but I tend to start east of the main entrance, parking in a turnout diagonally southwest across from the trail sign seen in the pictures below.
If you are looking for a fairly short hike with some elevation gain and some great views, this is the place to go. If you go on a weekday morning, you might find me huffing up one of the hills or resting at the top, beginning my day.