Camuesa Canyon is a long, narrow valley that alternates between short, steep climbs through narrow canyons and open, oak-covered meadows. The place has a wild, remote feeling to it. Near the upper end you can ride out to Camuesa Peak, which looks straight down on Gibraltar Reservoir and the quicksilver mines.
Difficulty: Moderate to Difficult
Points of Interests: Viewpoint, Out & Back
Locations: Upper Santa Ynez River
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
Download Directions: Download PDF Map Directions
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.
For the first mile Camuesa Road rises steadily up through a narrow drainage, then in the next mile you lose everything you just gained as the road drops down into Camuesa Canyon. The next three miles involve fairly easy but steady uphill riding through oak meadows and short, narrow, pretty canyons. Middle Camuesa Campground is 5.6 miles along the way.
Beyond the camp the road leads through a long, thin meadow for a mile, then turns left and ascends out of the canyon. In a mile you come to a high point from which you can see the Camuesa– Buckhorn intersection.
To reach Camuesa Peak, turn left on the side road at this high point. It is two miles along the Camuesa ridge (and a gain of 300 feet) to the end of the road, where you’ll find yourself looking straight down on Gibraltar Reservoir. Almost immediately below you the canyon looks like it is filled with silt. Actually it is. This is where material dredged from the lake’s bottom (in a valiant effort to keep it from filling in) was put before the city abandoned the desiltation project.