Mono Trail is part of the historic route from Santa Barbara to the Cuyama Valley. The section from Mono Campground to the river is 1.5 miles in length and is one of the most scenic rides in the back country. The lower canyon is filled with cottonwood trees that form a canopy on your ride to the river. You can continue up the Forbush Trail a half-mile and follow the Gibraltar Trail downstream.
1. Follow Gibraltar Road for seven miles to East Camino Cielo.
2. Turn right. Follow the crest road for 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 camp an additional 6 miles until you reach Mono Campground.
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.
This is a trail that I wish would go on forever. The canyon through which it passes is filled with cottonwood trees and thick stands of willows. The canopy completely covers the trail and provides the feeling that you are riding through a tunnel of greenery. It is the home of a tiny bird known as the least Bell’s vireo, a migratory bird that is on the Endangered Species List. There are roughly only 300 known pairs of them left, and approximately fifty or sixty of these pairs make this area their spring and summer home.
Mono Trail begins at the lower end of Mono Campground. Though it isn’t immediately obvious, you shouldn’t have too much trouble locating it. Look for a path that takes off through the brush. A hundred yards after you pass through a long grass meadow the canopy closes in overhead, and from here on the trail curves back and forth through the cottonwood forest for a half-mile, finally straightening out somewhat for the last mile, which is along the left side of the canyon.
Near the mouth of the canyon the trail rises slightly and then turns sharply left and follows the Santa Ynez River upstream. Mono Trail continues for a mile along the left side of the river, ending near the bottom of the Forbush Trail. Once you’ve crossed the river, Gibraltar Trail is a half-mile up the Forbush Trail (a lot of it pushing). This leads along open, grassy hillsides with impressive views of the cottonwood forests through which you’ve just ridden. It is three miles to the Sunbird Quicksilver Mine and seven miles to Gibraltar Reservoir. If you are camping at Mono, this will make a nice out-and-back ride before heading up to the Little Caliente Hot Springs for the evening soak.