Solvang: Ballard-Foxen-Cat-Drum Canyons Loop

Sunday, April 8, 2018

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Day 2: This ride takes you through the beautiful estate wineries and vineyards around the gorgeous Santa Ynez Valley on the quiet back roads from Ballard Canyon to Foxen Canyon. Climb up Solomon Hills on Cat Canyon Rd before descending into Los Alamos Valley followed by a climb up Purisima Hills on Drum Canyon Rd. Head east on Hwy 246 followed by a climb up Ballard Canyon for the return to Solvang.

Head north on Atterdag Rd for the short climb out-of-town on Chalk Hill Rd.

Continue on 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.

The road 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 onto Foxen Canyon Rd in Los Olivos with wonderful views of the valley!

Cross CA-154 and stay on Foxen Canyon Rd; this scenic back road takes you on flat terrain for the first few miles through the equine facilities and open ranch lands.

The base of the climb up the backside of Firestone Hill begins after passing the Santa Ynez Valley Recycling Station; it’s a mile long with 5-9% grades.

The road levels out along the top of the ridge-enjoy the beautiful valley views!

The fast descent drops down towards Firestone Vineyards to the T junction at Zaca Station Rd.

Turn right to continue north on Foxen Canyon Rd; the road travels along the Foxen Canyon Wine Trail through many of the Valley’s oldest and best-known wineries and vineyards.

The road continues on flat terrain to Zaca Ranch.

Foxen Canyon tilts to a climb up towards Zaca Mesa Vineyards; it’s 1.6 mile with 4-7% grades.

The road rounds the bend to the expansive open range with views of the San Rafael Mountains.

At the gated stone entrance to Zaca Lake Retreat, the road quickly descends down into the valley towards Alisos Canyon Rd.

Foxen Canyon continues for the next 11.2 miles along the wine trail on flat-rolling terrain as it winds through the valley with fabulous views of the Solomon Hills to the south and the San Rafael Mountains to the north.

Foxen Canyon Rd to Tres Hermanas Vineyard & Winery.

Foxen Canyon Rd to Foxen Vineyard & Winery.

Stay on Foxen Canyon Rd towards Rancho Sisquoc Winery.

Foxen Canyon Rd rolls through the beautiful vineyards around Sisquoc Valley.

Foxen Canyon continues through the rich farmlands to the small town of Sisquoc.

Head south on Palmer Rd for two flat scenic miles to Cat Canyon Rd.

Continue south on Cat Canyon Rd through the ERG oil fields, drilling rigs and wells.

The rolling flat terrain on the bottomlands passes through the open meadows and grasslands with grazing cattle and horses.

The 1.3 miles climb up the canyon begins as soon as you cross the rounded cattle guard. The climbing starts off with grades of 3-5% and steadily increases to steeper gradients of 9-13%!

The single narrow lane road wiggles along the side of the mountain with gorgeous views of the canyon and valley as the chaparral-covered Soloman Hills rises magnificently above it all.

You’re near the top of Cat Canyon when the ERG tank batteries come into view.

After crossing the cattle guard, the road drops down through Howard Canyon with its acres of vineyards and golden hills to its ends at Hwy 101.

Watch traffic and use caution as you cross 101 to Bell St, the road continues eastward into the town of Los Alamos.

Brief stop at Los Alamos Park.

Exit town and head south on Centennial St towards Los Alamos County Park to Drum Canyon.

Drum Canyon has very gentle grades for the first half mile or so; it goes past the Los Alamos Cemetery, open green meadows and farmlands.

The single-lane road gradually rises up with an average grade of 5.6%.

It winds up through the canyon between Redrock Mountain and the Purisima Hills with steeper sections of 9-11% grades.

You’re at the summit when you reach the cattle guard.

The twisty bumpy descent on Drum Canyon begins immediately after crossing the cattle guard.

The road improves dramatically as you reach the flats, the smooth pavement rolls along the canyon through the gorgeous landscape of open meadows, farmlands, and vineyards.

Drum Canyon ends at the T junction with CA-246.

Head east on CA-246; this highway has wide shoulders with little to no debris. The short climb has gorgeous views of the Purisima Hills and the valley below it.

The rolling terrain on CA-246 E is quite scenic with amazing views of the Santa Rosa Hills, the rich agricultural farmlands around Santa Rita Valley and the Santa Ynez Mountains to Buellton.

Turn left on Ballard Canyon Rd, the road gently climbs up from the valley through the quiet canyon.

You’re near the top when you reach the hilltop equestrian ranch.

The road comes to a T junction at Chalk Hill Rd. Turn right and retrace the route back to Laurel Ave.

This is a fantastic scenic ride that rolls along the quiet country back roads through the spectacular wineries and vineyards around Santa Barabra County! All the canyon climbs provide magnificent views of the surrounding valleys and mountains-you’ll enjoy it!

Garmin Stats:
60.45 Miles with 3953′ of elevation gain
Max elevation: 1354′
Max grade: 13%
Terrain: Flat-rolling with steep climbs

Weather: Sunny and warm. Temps ranged from the low 50’s to the low 80’s with NE > NW winds.

View the interactive RGPS route map & profile

Follow this route for today’s ride:

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