Solvang: Figueroa Mountain East to West

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

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Day 4: This remote mountain challenge loop rises nearly 4500′ above the Santa Ynez Valley. It goes up the east side of Figueroa Mountain on Happy Canyon Rd to Cachuma Saddle followed by another climb on Figueroa Mountain Rd to the summit. The ride includes a mile long packed dirt section and a couple of creek crossings along with a scenic rolling descent into Los Olivos.

Exit Flying Flags and head east on CA-246 into Solvang.

Ostrich performing a courtship dance at Ostrichland.

Meander through the neighborhood on 5th St, Laurel Ave and Pine St to Old Mission Dr.

Head north on Alamo Pintado Rd past the apple orchards, wineries and the miniature horse farm.

Turn right onto Baseline Rd; the rolling terrain travels eastward through the scenic Santa Ynez Valley to Edison St.

Cross Hwy 154 to stay on Edison and continue east through the gorgeous valley on Baseline Ave. The flat terrain rolls past the horse farms, ranches and vineyards with fabulous views of the San Rafael Mountain Range to the north and the Santa Ynez Mountains to the south. The road comes to a T junction at Happy Canyon Rd.

Turn left onto Happy Canyon Rd, the flat terrain leads you past the gorgeous rolling hillside vineyards, farms and equestrian facilities around the Santa Ynez Valley.

At Alisos Ave, go straight to stay on Happy Canyon. The gentle terrain continues through the valley towards the open meadows and pastoral lands to Rambling Oaks Rd.

Happy Canyon continues into the beautiful oak studded canyon through a small ranching community with farm houses, beautiful wooden barns and windmills with grand views of Figueroa Mountain.

The steep climb on Happy Canyon Rd begins at mile marker 7.3 at the Permit Required sign. The road steadily traverses up the mountain with steep grades of 10-14%. Watch out for the narrow sections of road with fallen rocks and boulders!

Enjoy the majestic mountain views!


The road continues to wind up around the mountain.

The road eases up for a short bit with grades of 7-9% once you pass the paved over cattle guard-enjoy the views!


Approximately two miles into the climb, the pavement ends and the mile long stretch of packed dirt begins. It’s not too bad at all with lesser grades of 7-9%. I ride with a set of beefy 28’s with tread and it makes a world of a difference in terms of comfort!

Magnificent canyon views!

The packed dirt rolls back onto pavement at a high point.

Happy Canyon Rd continues around the mountain with glorious views!

Beautiful fields of wildflowers!

The road narrows as it drops down along Cachuma Creek into the shaded canyon. Watch out for the wet road surfaces at the narrow creek crossings!


The road levels out for a short section through the meadow area to the second creek crossing and a bit beyond.


The narrow canyon road continues up into the Los Padres National Forest-Figueroa Mountain at Cachuma Saddle; it’s two miles with steep 10-14% grades!


To Cachuma  Saddle area.

The climbing continues for another 3.4 miles on Figueroa Mountain Rd to the summit.

The road is carved into the mountain and goes up the flank of Figueroa Mountain with an average grade of 7.5%.


Fantastic vistas!

This climb seems endless with each turn looking and feeling exactly like the one before it.


Take the time to enjoy the gorgeous mountain vistas!

Some sections of the road are lined with pretty blue lupines, turn after turn.

Stunning views with wildflowers along the mountain slopes!

The road continues to wind around the mountain to the lower gate with superb vistas!

The road narrows on the short steep climb through the mixed evergreen forest around the Los Padres National Forest up to the summit.

At the top, take a breather and enjoy the dramatic views of the rugged San Rafael Mountains.

Descend through the dense woodland on Figueroa Mountain Rd to the open ridge line and meadows.

The road continues along the ridge with gorgeous views of the Santa Ynez Valley.

The drop down into the wooded forest around Figueroa Campground is followed by a climb out to the trailhead to Pino Alto, Lookout and Cumbre.

The road winds around the mountain with stunning displays of wildflowers!

Gorgeous poppies and brush lupine carpet the mountainside!

Continue to descend the mountain past the Figueroa Ranger Station.

Stop at the many vista areas to enjoy the wonderful valley views!


The road continues down the mountain with gorgeous views of the peaks, ridges and poppy covered slopes!


The road narrows as it goes up the short little humps along the back ridge followed by a twisty bumpy descent into Birabent Canyon.


Figueroa Mountain Rd heads SW for the next 6.9 gentle miles through the canyon out to the open valley floor.

You’ll roll past the stone walls at Neverland Ranch, Midland School, Family School, the Chamberlin Ranch and other scattered ranches and farms. Figueroa Mountain Rd ends at the T junction with Hwy 154 at Los Olivos.

Cross 154 onto Grand Ave in Los Olivos to Alamo Pintado Rd.

Exit town and head south on Santa Barbara Ave.The road reconnects to Alamo Pintado as it continues south towards Solvang.

Retrace the route back on Old MIssion Dr onto the mulit-use trail and meander through the residential neighborhood on Pine, Laurel and 5th St to Mission Dr.

Return on Hwy 246 W into Buellton.

This challenging remote route is packed with steep climbs along with a dirt section and a couple of creek crossings. Much of Happy Canyon Rd has full sun exposure; on a hot day this climb up the east side would be brutal! Check the weather before doing this route-carry plenty of snacks and water! Take on the adventure and you’ll be rewarded with spectacular views and wildflowers!

Garmin Stats:
56.22 Miles with 5427′ of elevation gain
Max elevation: 4444′
Max grade: 14%
Terrain: Extremely hilly with steep climbs

Weather: Sunny and cool. Temps ranged from the high 30’s to the mid 60’s with breezy NW winds.

View the interactive RGPS route map & profile

Figueroa Mountain

Follow this route for today’s ride:


  1. Thanks for sharing this, Nancy. I have always wanted to do the Figueroa Mt loop but have always made excuses. Now I am really tempted. Too bad I can’t do it during the wildflower season. Wonderful photos.

    On Sun, Apr 10, 2016 at 10:45 AM, Ride Chronicles wrote:

    > nancyyu posted: “Wednesday, March 30, 2016 View the entire Google Web > Album Day 4: This remote mountain challenge loop rises nearly 4500′ above > the Santa Ynez Valley. It goes up the east side of Figueroa Mountain on > Happy Canyon Rd to Cachuma Saddle followed by anot” >


  2. What a fantastic job you did of capturing the adventure and beauty of this amazing ride! Thanks for sharing — and labeling the flowers too!! ; > ) Janet


  3. Bob, You can definitely do this mountain loop! There are flat sections where you can stop for a break and enjoy the mountain vistas. Breaking up the climb makes it somewhat easier.


  4. This is one of my favorite rides. The wildflowers are a treat. It is very hot in mid summer so I always take a lot of water then. Thanks for posting this ride.



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