An Aimless Wander Through Hidden Valley

My strategy to head out on a walk without researching an area first comes with risks. I went to the neighborhood of Hidden Valley, wedged between Hope Ranch and Las Positas, planning to focus on the loop west of Hidden Valley Park.

I was thwarted by road construction, however, and even if I could have driven over there, I later learned that it’s the Valle Verde senior living complex, and “‘passing through’ is not allowed” during Covid, according to signs. What I saw of the compound from the street was appealing. (The “human good community” phrasing rankled less when I discovered it’s the name of the developer, not a saccharine slogan.)

Every where you turn, you see hills in the background, no doubt how Hidden Valley got its name. It really does feel like its own little world.

I parked near the intersection of Veronica Springs Road and Torino Drive, and, as usual, I was soon worrying that I wouldn’t come across anything worthwhile. I mean, I’ll always find something that tickles my interest—even if it’s just a mysterious pile of dirt or a tree in bondage—but I wouldn’t want those to be the highlights of a blog post.

If I had found this palm frond near the end of my walk, I probably would’ve taken it home. I finally got my husband to agree to put a frond above the sofa in our living room, as a placeholder till we find—and agree on—a piece of art, which could take years. Again, exciting to me and no one else.

Also, the houses I first came across weren’t the nicest, and as this site has grown, I feel less comfortable shining a light on homes where people might not have the time or money to maintain the property well. But then I hit a pretty street and my spirits perked up.

And maybe I loosened up, because suddenly, interestingness was everywhere. Look at the shape of that chimney—and the industrial tank thing on the roof.

I can’t remember the last time I saw a pop-up camper. They always remind me of Jiffy Pop.

Better safe than sorry!

There must be a story here.

And nothing gives me hope like real grass breaking through a fake lawn.

I would seem to be the perfect demographic for a silly-walking zone, but (a) the sign was angled in such a way that I wasn’t sure whether I was entering or leaving, and (b) I didn’t see a sign indicating that the zone ever ended.

Hidden Valley is home to another retirement community, Vista del Monte, besides Valle Verde. (Do you think there’s a Jets-vs.-Sharks turf war between the two? Are intermarriages allowed?) It could very well be a lovely place to live but, with the exception of the pool, it was boring to walk by, so I wandered a different direction.

I passed this trike-riding gentleman a couple of times. Neither of us appeared to be headed anywhere in particular.

There should be more trees planted in the street.

Architecture was not a high point of this walk. The first time I even thought about it was on a strip dominated by the style below—single-story with a small second floor jutting up.

And then there was a clump of houses that all had detached garages, which I don’t see the appeal of. To clarify: I don’t care that the garage is detached—the weather here certainly supports such a choice—but half the house has to look out onto a wall.

Variations on a midcentury design showed up now and again.

And there were definitely many pretty houses.

And pretty streets.

And pretty trees. I don’t think I’ve ever seen an oak shaped like the one below; they’re always allowed to sprawl.

Roadwork was everywhere, and generally a drag, but I was enthralled by the machine that drills large holes in the pavement.

Lucky for me, right when I hit a stinky part of the construction, I came upon an entrance to Hidden Valley Park. The long, skinny park runs along Arroyo Burro Creek, with a playground at one end and a lengthwise trail.

I was the only person on the trail, which probably wouldn’t be a worthwhile destination from across town but if I lived nearby, I could certainly see the charm of walking a dog through it. As can others, judging from the small garbage bins to encourage proper poop disposal.

The flowers known as naked ladies have other names, but they’re a lot less fun.

Back on the street, I was disappointed Danny Zuko and the T-Birds weren’t out working on their rides.

No way, not during spider season.

Speaking of creatures, Hidden Valley has more than its share of animal-inspired yard tchotchkes. I suspect the people in the second house pictured below would like me to point out that the Elmo is not theirs, but their neighbor’s.

And I couldn’t say for sure, but this might be an extremely rare non-ironic flamingo yard ornament.


Walk With Me…
Voyage to the Heart of the San Roque Spider Web
Where the Streets Have Full Names
Once Upon a Time in the Hedgerow…
On the Golden Slope of Eucalyptus Hill
The Past Is Still Present in Old Town Goleta
The Haley Corridor Is Keeping It Real
The Unvarnished Appeal of Yankee Farm
Where Montecito Gets Down to Business
The Small Pleasures of Bungalow Haven
The Small-Town Charms of Samarkand
Climbing the Back of Eucalyptus Hill
Admiring the Backsides of Beachfront Houses on Padaro Lane
Social Distancing Made Easy at UCSB
In the Heart of the Golden Quadrangle
Is There a Better Neighborhood for a Stroll Than West Beach?
Up, Down, and All Around Montecito’s Pepper Hill
E. Canon Perdido, One of Downtown’s Best Strolling Streets
Montecito’s Prestigious Picacho Lane
Whitney Avenue in Summerland
School House Road and Camphor Place


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Our house was on Amalfi Way. I loved that area! Not too far from the beach…not too far from the ponies at Earl Warren.

Larry Liddle

Have you ever visited the street side Frog Museum (in the Riviera) Or the Pig House (near Butterfly Beach)?


Thanks for a nice walk through Hidden Valley. The other great thing about this neighborhood is they go ALL IN with lights during the December holidays — both Veronica Springs Place and Las Positas Place have every house decorated. It’s a really fun place to walk/drive through.