Cat Canyon -

The Best Santa Barbara Santa Ynez Valley

On the Ride


Difficulty: Moderate to Difficult • Paved or Dirt: Paved Path • Mileage: 32.9
Elevation Gain: 800 ft. •

This may be my favorite road ride anywhere in the county. It has lots of back country roads, little traffic, beautiful countryside scenery, and places to stop along the way like the quaint town of Sisquoc and the historic Foxen Canyon Chapel. A stop at the Rancho Sisquoc Winery will make the loop ride complete.






Ride Details

  • Use Fees : None
  • Length : 32.9
  • Gain : 300’ gain over Gato Ridge near the start of the ride; gradual uphill for 11 miles to Alisos Canyon; 200’ gain over the Alisos ridge near the end of the ride.
  • Difficulty : Moderate to Difficult
  • Path : Paved country roads.

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Difficulty: Moderate to Difficult
Points of Interests: Loop Trip

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Driving Directions
Get Directions to Cat Canyon which is located at 34.757339,-120.294199.

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Access / Parking

  1. There are plenty of places to park in Los Alamos along the main or side streets.
  2. There is also plenty of parking just off Highway 101 at the Cat Canyon turnoff if you want to begin there.


Ride Log


On The Ride

My last ride on this loop was in late April with my friend Chris Childers, who lives in Los Alamos. It was an afternoon ride, a warm spring day with plenty of sunshine and lots of greenery and wildflowers for company: in short, a perfect time to enjoy the beauty of the Los Alamos and Sisquoc valleys.

From downtown Los Alamos you ride a half-mile west on Highway 135, then veer right onto Bell Road for a mile of gradual uphill to Highway 101. Once you are safely across the freeway, the country riding begins. Almost immediately you begin climbing up toward the Gato Ridge through Howard Canyon, and in a half-hour you are over the crest and cruising down to Cat Canyon Road. This is both oil and cattle country, and you are likely to see lots of cows and a number of wells.

This is perfect riding territory, with almost level or slightly downhill riding, rarely a car to be spotted, and plenty of time to ride side-by-side and chat about old times. You’ll have a bit more than five miles of this kind of riding in Cat Canyon and another two miles of it on Palmer Road before you reach the small town of Sisquoc. This is historic country, gateway to the San Rafael Wilderness, where a hundred years ago homesteaders meandered past the Sisquoc Store on their way into the wild country where they hoped to start a new life.

After a soft drink or other refreshment at the store, turn right onto Foxen Canyon Road. The riding is gradual uphill, not too steep, but continuous. The scenery, of course, is spectacular. It is 3.6 miles from Sisquoc to the point where the road leaves the Sisquoc Valley and heads up into Foxen Canyon. You’ll spot the white clapboard chapel high on the hill just to the right of the side road leading to Rancho Sisquoc Winery. Both are worth a visit, though it is a two-mile side trip to the winery.

Foxen Canyon Road climbs a bit more once you are in the upper canyon, but the setting is absolutely enchanting. This last part to Alisos Canyon is 7.6 miles and will test your legs, but your eyes won’t mind the countryside views a bit. Once you reach the Alisos Canyon Road intersection, bear right and follow the road up over a short grade and a long downhill for 6.5 miles to Highway 101 and then 2.2 miles on the frontage road back to Los Alamos.

Last Updated: Friday, August 8, 2014