Difficulty: Difficult •
Paved or Dirt: Paved Path •
Mileage: 36.4 Elevation Gain: 3,600 ft. •
In the spring there is no more beautiful place in the county than the crest of Figueroa Mountain, literally covered with square miles of poppy and lupine and forests of Coulter pine. Though it’s a strenuous climb up, Figueroa and Ranger peaks provide not only views of the rugged San Rafael Wilderness and the Santa Ynez Valley, but the Channel Islands as well.
Use Fees : None
Length : 43.2
Gain : 470’ to end of canyon; 2,260’ from end of canyon to Figueroa Lookout turnoff; 900’ from turnoff to Ranger Peak; 3,600’ total to top of Ranger Peak.
Difficulty : Easy to end of canyon; strenuous to Figueroa Mountain; very Strenuous for the entire loop
To reach Mattei’s Tavern, drive either over San Marcos Pass, continuing on Highway 154 for thirty miles to the town of Los Olivos
Or take Highway 101 along the coast and through Gaviota Pass to Highway 154, and east on this 2.4 miles to the tavern.
The San Marcos Pass route is eighteen miles shorter.
On The Ride
From Mattei’s Tavern, take Figueroa Mountain Road north. The first five miles along upper Alamo Pintado Creek and past Midland School aren’t quite level, but they almost seems like they are. This gives a chance to stretch out before the climb, which is steady most of the way and steep in parts. The road switches back and forth onto the western shoulder of Figueroa Mountain, following a long ridge for six miles to Figueroa Ranger Station. You can replenish your water supply here or a bit later at Figueroa Mountain Campground.
Sawmill Basin is a half-mile beyond the ranger station. This is spectacular high country, with expansive displays of wildflowers in late March and April. Not too far beyond the basin the pine forests begin. The next several miles are more gradual as the road winds past the catway and the turnoff to the lookout station. For many riders, the trek up to the top of Figueroa Mountain will be the ultimate goal. The 2.5-mile ride to the lookout station leads through Santa Barbara County’s premier pine forests. From the top there are unparalleled views of the entire back country.
From the turnoff the road drops down to Figueroa Campground (water is available here) and then begins to climb again past a series of serpentine outcroppings before one final 600-foot elevation gain over the shoulder of Ranger Peak.
From here it is three miles of exhilarating downhill to Cachuma Saddle (turn right here) and five more miles of downhill to Happy Canyon. Follow the Happy Canyon Road for five miles to Baseline Avenue, turn right and continue on Baseline for six miles to the town of Ballard. Turn right and continue north on Alamo Pintado Road and Grand Avenue 2.2 miles back to your vehicle.
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.