Difficulty: Difficult •
Paved or Dirt: Paved Path •
Mileage: 51.6 Elevation Gain: 1200 ft. •
This ride is almost but not quite a metric century. The route takes you down the entire Los Alamos Valley, through the lovely Casmalia Hills, and across Santa Maria into the upper Sisquoc River valley. This route takes you through much of the best of the northern part of the county.
Use Fees : None
Length : 51.6 miles if you return via Cat Canyon Road; 60 miles if you continue on Foxen Canyon Road and return on Alisos Canyon Road.
Gain : Moderately level, with ups and downs through the Casmalia Hills and uphill near the end going over Gato Ridge at the upper end of Cat Canyon.
There are plenty of places to park in Los Alamos along the main or side streets.
There is also plenty of parking just off Highway 101 at the Cat Canyon turnoff if you want to begin there.
On The Ride
As I cruise down the Los Alamos Valley I am always surprised how beautiful it is in the early morning. With the sun at my back the hills turn golden and the crisp air feels good. The valley is wide and open, and the riding is easy all the way down to Harris Grade Road. Once I am across Harris Grade, Highway 135 becomes San Antonio Road and the canyon narrows, becoming more of a creek canyon. Six more miles of easy cruising and a short half-mile jog on Highway 1 bring me to Lompoc-Casmalia Road and the next ten miles involve more effort as I wind through the Casmalia Hills into the Santa Maria Valley.
The Santa Maria area is much more congested, but by continuing on Black Road across Highway 1 and taking Mahoney Road to Betteravia Road, I manage to miss most of it. Betteravia is a different story, however, with lots of traffic, and I ride carefully. Fortunately it is only a few miles before I am across Highway 101 and back out in the country.
The second half of the ride is as enchanting as the first. Betteravia Road is long and straight, leading in the general direction of the Santa Maria River, but just a bit before it runs into the riverbed, Betteravia turns into Foxen Canyon Road and begins a series of jogs as it winds its way through and around large agricultural plots. It is six miles to the small town of Sisquoc, a great place to have a soft drink or bottle of water—or a sandwich—before the final ride back to Los Alamos. Here I need to make a choice.
Foxen Canyon turns left, and it is eighteen miles on it and Alisos Canyon Road back to Los Alamos. This is a wonderful ride, but I am a little tired so I take the shorter route via Cat Canyon Road. This way is just over 12 miles. Continuing straight ahead on Palmer Road, I am confronted by a few hills, but they are easy and I am at the Cat Canyon turnoff in no time. I have a few miles of gentle uphill then one longer climb up over Gato Ridge, then it is six miles of great downhill riding through Howard Canyon and across Highway 101 back into town.
Thank you for taking the time to visit Santa Barbara Outdoors. The website was created to provide our local community and those who visit here with up-to-date information about where to go and what to see in our beautiful county.The website is currently undergoing major revisions so please be patient.
When heading out on any of our local trails always remember to bring plenty of water and take care while you are out there.