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The Santa Maria River Levee Trail offers wide open views of distant mountains and the rugged landscape of the Santa Maria Valley. The partially paved trail follows a levee built by the Army Corps of Engineers in the early 1960s and rehabilitated between 2009 and 2011.
Four kiosks along the trail provide information about the area's plants and wildlife, and two short side trips connect trail-goers with parks. On the west side of US 101, head south from the trail on a quiet residential street—Preisker Lane—to reach Preisker Park, which, at 40 acres, is Santa Maria's largest park. It offers a large grassy area for sports, a pond and creek, playgrounds, picnic areas with barbecue pits, and restrooms.
Near the trail's eastern end, a connection to Jim May Park is possible by crossing Seaward Drive and taking the sidewalk along Carlotti Drive. The park is a relaxing, natural oasis with a large lake, which makes a popular spot for bird watching.
A trail parking lot is available off the Exit 173 (Broadway) on US 101.
About mid-trail, you can also park in Preisker Park (330 Hidden Pines Way). From the park's northeast corner, take a quiet residential street—Preisker Lane—north (about a block) to its dead-end at the trail.
On the east side of the trail, nearby parking is available in Jim May Park (809 Stanford Drive). From the park's northeast corner, take the sidewalks along Carlotti Drive a short distance north to Seaward Drive, which you can cross at a crosswalk to reach the trail.
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