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Santa Barbara Bike Rides - Mountain Biking - Upper Santa Ynez River

The Best Mountain Biking along the Upper Santa Ynez River Coast & Fun Things to do in Upper Santa Ynez River
Road Rides
Show All (22) Goleta-Gaviota (6) Montecito (2) Santa Barbara (4) S.Y. Mountains (4) S.Y. Valley (13)
Mountain Biking
Show All (42) Figueroa Mountain (10) Front Country (2) Gaviota Coast (3) Lower S.Y. River (11) S.Y. Mountains (8) Upper S.Y. River (8)
Surface Type
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Paved Path
Dirt Path

Difficulty
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Easy
Moderate
Difficult
Gonzo

Distance
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0-5 Miles
6-10 Miles
11-15 Miles
16-20 Miles
21-30 Miles
30 Plus Miles

Elevation Gain
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0-500 ft.
500-1000 ft.
1000-2000 ft.
1500-2000 ft.
2000-3000 ft.
3000 Plus ft.

The Basics — Upper SY River

Road Log—Gibraltar Road to Indian Creek
0.0  Intersection of Camino Cielo and Gibraltar roads. Angostura Pass is a mile to the left. To the right it is 5.8 miles to Romero Saddle along one of the nicest road rides on the crest.

3.0  Cold Springs/Forbush Flats trailheads. Cold Springs will take you down into town; Forbush on one of the backside’s great rides.

3.2  San Ysidro trailhead. Used a lot by equestrian groups. If you ride here be extremely careful.

5.8  Romero Saddle. Romero Road leads down into town by the cement water tank. The Island View Trail is up the far crest.

7.0  Start of the Divide Peak ORV trailhead. Be on the lookout for motorcycles.

7.6  Escondido Creek. A very beautiful canyon with year-round water

9.0  Blue Canyon trailhead leads down to Cottam Campground just before Blue Canyon Pass.

10.4  Juncal Campground (closed). You will need to park a quarter-mile away on either side if you want to ride up toward Jameson Reservoir.

13.4  Agua Caliente Canyon/Pendola Ranger Station. Road to hot springs is closed but accessible either by foot or bike.

13.5   Mid-Santa Ynez Campground.

14.1  P-Bar Flats Campground.

14.7  Trail to Cottam Campround. Leads down across the Santa Ynez River and up into Blue Canyon. May be difficult to ride in the winter months and after big storms.

17.0  Mono Campground and Mono Debris Dam. Walk-in camp with a great water hole and slide down the dam. Mono trail leads down the creek below the campground.

18.0  Mono Creek Road/Little Caliente Hot Springs. Road is closed right before the Mono Creek crossing. The hot springs are a mile up Little Caliente Canyon on a very rough dirt road. High clearance only.

18.0  Locked gate.

19.2  Indian Creek trailhead, a hundred yards before the locked gate, marking the start of Camuesa Road.

19.3  Second locked gate, beginning of Camuesa Road. Look for motorcycles on Camuesa Road.

Camping
There are four car campgrounds in the upper Santa Ynez River canyon. Mid-Santa Ynez and P-Bar Flat campgrounds are located in the open bottomland where the Santa Ynez and the Agua Caliente watersheds merge, not too far from Pendola Ranger Station. Rock Camp is located 4 miles up the Agua Caliente spur road, a half mile before the hot springs. Mono Campground is a mile farther on Camuesa Road, just below the confluence of Indian and Mono creeks.

There are no fees for using these campsites. One of the reasons for this is that no water is available at any of them, so you’ll need to bring an adequate supply. Camping is on a first-come, first-served basis, with a fourteen-day stay limit. Overnight camping is not permitted at either of the hot springs.

Primitive-area camping is also available, accessible either by backpacking or mountain biking. Blue Canyon, the upper Santa Ynez River, Agua Caliente Creek, Mono Creek, and Indian Creek all have sites which may be used. Camping is allowed in established campsites only, and fires must be kept to the facilities provided by the Forest Service. This is a one-way in, one-way out canyon, and if a wildfire should occur, it’s a long way out.

Mid-Santa Ynez
Description:
Lots of room, many shady sites, trees, close to river, no pavement.

Number of Sites:
9 units

Elevation:
1,500 feet

Facilities
Tables, fire pits, barbecues, vault toilets

Special Rules
Must pack out garbage.

Seasonal Use
Open all year. Seasonal road closure may occur due to river overflow. River may be extremely low during summertime.

Helpful Hints
Bring water. The campground is usually full on weekends during deer hunting season, mid-August through late September. Big Caliente hot springs is 3 miles away. 

Mono Campground
Description
Meadow, shade, many large trees, big sites, next to river (water will be low in summer).

Number of Sites
4 sites, all of them walk-in.

Elevation
1,400 feet

Facilities
Tables, fire pits, vault toilets.

Seasonal Use
Seasonal road closure may occur due to river overflow. River may be dry in summer.

Helpful Hints
Bring water. The campground is usually full on weekends during deer hunting season, mid-August through late September. The Mono Debris Dam is close to the campground and usually has enough water to swim in. Little Caliente Hot Springs is two miles away, but a high-clearance vehicle is recommended for the last mile on Little Caliente Road. The last section of steep dirt road before Mono Campground can become slippery during wet weather. Two-wheel-drive vehicles may have to wait a day for this section to dry out. 

P-Bar Flats
Description

Close to river, wide meadow with oaks, nearby hiking up the ridge or toward Cottam Campground.

Number of Sites
4 units.

Elevation
1,500 feet.

Facilities
Tables, fire pits, barbecues, vault toilets.

Seasonal Use
Seasonal road closure may occur due to river overflow. River may be extremely low or dry in summer.

Helpful Hints
Bring water. The campground is usually full on weekends during deer hunting season, mid-August through late September.

Rock Camp
Description

Close to Agua Caliente Creek, a small open area with oaks, not too far from the hot springs.

Number of Sites
1 unit.

Elevation
1,850 feet.

Facilities
Fire pits, barbecues, no toilets. Very small, primitive camp.

Seasonal Use
Seasonal road closure may occur.

Helpful Hints
Bring water. Camp is often occupied so you may need to camp at Mid Santa Ynez.

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Last Updated: Sunday, August 24, 2014