Tuesday, April 10, 2018
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 route includes a mile long packed dirt section and a couple of creek crossings along with a glorious descent to Los Olivos.
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.
Runaway miniature horse and a mare!
Happy Canyon continues into the beautiful oak-studded canyon through a small ranching community with farmhouses, 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 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%. The road winds up to the Chicken Springs Shooting Area.
The packed dirt rolls back onto the pavement at a high point. Happy Canyon Rd continues around the mountain with glorious views!
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!
The climbing continues for another 3.3 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%.
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!
Gorgeous poppies 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 and continues to descend the mountain past the Figueroa Ranger Station. The road narrows as it goes up the short little humps along the back ridge followed by a twisty bumpy descent into Birabent Canyon. Stop at the many vista areas to enjoy the wonderful valley views!
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. Retrace the route back to Old Mission Dr and meander through the residential neighborhood on Pine to Laurel.
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!
48.91 Miles with 4951′ of elevation gain
Max elevation: 4049′
Max grade: 14%
Terrain: Flat-rolling with steep climbs
Weather: Sunny and warm. Temps ranged from the mid 50’s to the low 90’s with NE > NW winds.
Follow this route for today’s ride: