Monday, April 3, 2017
Day 3: Solvang-Paso Robles Spring Destinations
Challenge yourself with this out & back remote climb up the steep west side of Figueroa Mountain and enjoy the glorious views along the way!
Exit Royal Copenhagen and head north on Atterdag Rd. for the short climb out-of-town on Chalk Hill Rd.
The road name changes to Chalk Hill Rd as it climbs up towards Ballard Canyon junction.
Continue straight onto Ballard Canyon Rd; it’s a beautiful quiet canyon with picturesque scenes of the lower Purisima Hills’ pastoral grasslands and meadows dotted with grazing horses and cattle.
The road drops down onto the flat canyon floor and continues along the quiet country with rolling hillside vineyards and vast open green meadows.
Ballard Canyon continues with a gentle rolling climb through the expansive vineyards with gorgeous views of the canyon.
At the switchback, Ballard Canyon Rd tilts up for a 0.4-mile climb up to Los Olivos Meadows Rd with magnificent views of the vineyards!
The twisty descent drops down towards Los Olivos with wonderful views of the valley!
The first 5 miles of Figueroa Mountain Rd runs north along Alamo Pintado Creek on mostly flat terrain with a few rolling climbs; it winds along the valley through expansive grasslands and ranches with grazing cattle on the gentle slopes of the green hills.
Roll past the Chamberlin Ranch and make a brief stop at the entrance of Neverland Ranch to check out the Memorial stone carvings dedicated to Michael Jackson. Continue past the Midland School and The Family School, the rolling terrain leads to the base of the climb up Figueroa.
The road takes you across Alamo Pintado Creek before making a sharp right-hand switchback over a cattle guard. The narrow road ahead immediately tilts up to a very steep half-mile climb with gradient ranges of 11-17%!
The road continues east through Birabent Canyon and steadily climbs up with steep grades of 10-13%. The road switches back and forth along the western shoulder of the mountain with spectacular NE views of the San Rafael Mountains-WOW!
Enjoy the panoramic mountain views!
There are a few false summits; some of the climbs are followed by a nice descent but don’t be fooled, there’s so much more steep climbing ahead.
Once you pass the Los Padres National Forest sign, the road travels along the ridge all the way to the Figueroa Ranger Station at 3200′.
Take the time to stop and enjoy the magnificent unobstructed panoramic views of the Santa Ynez Valley and the mountains surrounding the National Forest. The scenic value of this mountain makes the arduous climb well worth the effort!
The road descends for a half mile beyond the Ranger Station into Sawmill Basin; this section is the highlight of Figueroa Mountain with its spectacular display of wildflowers. Springtime brings in the big “Wow” factor to this area with the upper and lower slopes of the mountainsides adorned with blooming lupines and golden poppies-it’s absolutely gorgeous!
The road drops down into the pine forest under the canopy of the trees. Figueroa Mountain Rd continues on and on with some short sections that “levels off at around 9%-who knew that a 9% grade would feel so good!” The road passes through more outcroppings of the serpentine and semi-desert landscape.
The road crosses a few more cattle guards before continuing along the ridge with fabulous views of the Santa Ynez Valley to the south and the chaparral-covered mountains and expansive green meadows to the north.
You can see a pine forest coming into view as you near the turnoff at the gate up to the summit. The very narrow road follows a forested ridge up to the unremarkable summit at the wide turnout area. The road opens up to dramatic views of the entire backcountry surrounding the San Rafael Mountains-WOW!
Turn around, descend Figueroa Mountain and reverse your way back to Solvang through Ballard Canyon Rd.
This grueling 9.5-mile steep climb up Figueroa is definitely a challenge! Break up the arduous ascent by taking a breather at one of the many vista overlooks. Stop and enjoy the spectacular views!
47.72 Miles with 5410′ of elevation gain
Max elevation: 4368′
Max grade: 17%
Terrain: Extremely hilly with steep climbs
Weather: Sunny and warm. Temps ranged from the mid 40’s to the mid 80’s with NW winds.
Follow this route for today’s ride: