The lower Indian Creek drainage is almost level and winds through scenic sandstone and shale formations and very pretty riparian vegetation. There are numerous pools, and the fishing is rumored to be great. Lower Buckhorn Campground is four miles from the trailhead.
1. Follow Gibraltar Road for 7 miles to Camino Cielo.
2. Turn right. Follow the crest road 5.8 miles to Romero Saddle.
3. Drop down an additional 4.6 miles on the rough dirt road until you reach Juncal Campground.
4. Continue past the campground an additional seven miles (one mile beyond Mono Campground) until you reach the locked gate at the Mono Creek crossing.
Mileage Log From the Top of Gibraltar Road
0.0 Intersection of Camino Cielo and Gibraltar roads
3.0 Cold Springs/Forbush Flats trailheads
3.2 San Ysidro trailhead
5.8 Romero Saddle
7.0 Start of the Divide Peak ORV trailhead
7.6 Escondido Creek
9.0 Blue Canyon trailhead
10.4 Juncal Camp
13.4 Agua Caliente Canyon/Pendola Ranger Station
13.5 Mid-Santa Ynez Camp
14.1 P-Bar Flats Camp
14.7 Access road to Santa Ynez River
17.0 Mono Camp/Debris Dam
18.0 Mono Creek Road/Little Caliente Hot Springs
19.2 Indian Creek trailhead
19.3 Locked Gate/Beginning of the Camuesa Road
Expectations for Riding the Santa Barbara Area Trails
Country trails are multi-use trails and as such are used by several thousand users each week. If you are riding downhill on these trails, expect to encounter them on your way. Your cooperation will help make everyone's experience a safe and pleasant one.
Ten things every mountain biker who rides the front country trails is expected to do:
Have a bike bell so other trail users know you are approaching.
Keep your speed down; practice riding techniques that minimize impacts.
Good braking means never having to skid. Do not lock up your brakes.
Approach switchbacks with caution and brake well before you reach them.
Stay on the designated tread. The front country trails are multi-use, not a race course.
Ride with other trail users in mind and enhance rather than interfere with their enjoyment.
Always assume there is another trail user around each corner.
Yield the right-of-way to uphill trail users. Stop and dismount if necessary to allow them to pass.
When approaching equestrians, dismount and ask them what they want you to do.
Be courteous. Smile and say something friendly to everyone you encounter.
Just the name—Indian Creek—has a wonderful sound. The creek is worthy of a name in itself. It is almost level, and thus makes for an easy ride, with lots of meanders that create small meadows and elbows that hide deep pools. It is a lovely place to go. The riding, however, is somewhat technical, and you will have to carry your bike across almost every creek crossing.
It is slightly more than a mile from the locked gate to the Indian Creek intersection. You’ll know if you’ve passed it if you come to a second locked gate. If you do, the trailhead is about a hundred yards behind you.
The trailhead tells little of what lies ahead. It is just a small, open parking lot on the edge of the chaparral. The first quarter-mile is up the left side of the creek to a small debris dam (a great pool for the end of the hike, if the creek is running). Most of the time you’ll have to wade through the pool. In fifty yards you cross back again, though here the crossing isn’t very deep. Your best bet is to wear tennis shoes you don’t mind getting wet.
You are still on a jeep road at this point. Follow this for 0.3 miles up over one short but very steep hill (you’ll walk this one). The road turns sharply to the left in a half-mile at the end of a long ridge, and then crosses to the right side of the creek (the creek makes a U-shaped bend around this ridge) .
As soon as you have crossed the creek, look for the trail. It turns off of the jeep road and follows the right side of the creek upstream. The jeepway veers to the right and begins to climb steeply up the mountainside. Do not take this route unless you are into extreme masochism. It is steep, steep, and steeper.
Once you are on the trail you should have no trouble with routefinding. There are a lot of crossings, but each time you’ll be able to spot the trail on the other side. It is a wonderful ride and worthy of a full day.
Lower Buckhorn Campground is four miles. The trail up this side canyon provides a very picturesque way to extend your ride a bit. It leads up onto the eastern side of Little Pine Mountain. The trail is fairly level and winds back and forth across the small creek and through a lovely canyon. It is deep and narrow, its banks filled with a canopy of rose bushes, oaks, and sycamores. You’ll wish the trail would continue on forever and ever. Unfortunately the canyon section lasts only a few miles before the trail heads up into the chaparral and gets too steep to ride.