Lake Gregory Regional Park
Lake Gregory Regional Park features a great easy trail that encircles the entire lake. One loop around the lake is just under 2.5 miles with almost no elevation gain.
The trail never strays far from the lake with fitness stations for those who wish to workout. Waterfowl of all kinds are scattered on the surface, but due to development around the lake, don’t expect many land animals other than a few squirrels.
There is lots of dining and other things to do (fishing and boating are popular activities) near Lake Gregory, and a few hotels and rentals are in the area, making it a great weekend getaway or day trip.
The hike up to Inspiration Point is one of the most popular in Santa Barbara due to the amazing views of the city, Pacific Ocean and the distant Channel Islands.
My route took me up the Tunnel Trail to the Jesusita Trail up to the point. At around 5 miles round-trip with an 800-1000 foot elevation gain (depending how far from the trailhead you have to park), it is a moderately strenuous hike, but the views are more than worth the effort.
As one of the more popular trails in the area, expect to share the path with hikers of all ages, dogs and mountain bikers.
Goleta Beach Park is far enough away from downtown Santa Barbara to be hidden from tourists, but right next door to the University of California, Santa Barbara and its large student body. Meaning it’s busy, but not overwhelmingly so.
This hike is more of a long walk: a little over 4 miles round-trip down the beach, up some small bluffs with expansive views of the Pacific Ocean, then onto the UCSB campus and circling its 31-acre lagoon, featuring a wide variety of waterfowl and wildlife.
Make sure to seek out the Lagoon Labyrinth, a circular path defined by rocks and designed to be a reflective and serene walk.