This is the prettiest canyon in Santa Barbara. From its pine-crested start atop Figueroa Mountain to its end at Davy Brown Camp, Fir Canyon is filled with lush vegetation, cascading pools and, of course, tall firs trees—these ones called big cone spruce. This is the main trail from Figueroa Mountain to Manzana Creek. A number of spur trails lead off it, making quite a few different loop rides possible.
From Mattei’s Tavern in Los Olivos, take Figueroa Mountain Road 13.0 miles to the start of the Davy Brown Trail, 1.2 miles beyond Figueroa Mountain Campground.
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.
Davy Brown Trail begins inauspiciously in a small grass-covered saddle, but within a few hundred yards you will find yourself deeply immersed in the narrow confines of Fir Canyon, surrounded by big cone spruce, large Kellogg oaks, and bigleaf maple. The trail itself provides intense single track, and you will want to walk some of it. But for those who are technical experts, Davy Brown’s trail will offer you Santa Barbara County’s best single track.
A mile down the canyon the trail crosses to the right side of the creek, then in a short distance it crosses back to the left. Below this point the riding is almost level and the canyon incredibly beautiful.
At the next creek crossing you will find the memorial to Edgar Davison and, shortly thereafter, several connector trails. The first is on the right and goes up to the Munch Canyon Trail. A few yards below this you will find a connector trail leading up and to the left. This leads to the Black Willow Springs Trail.
A half-mile of more level canyon riding leads to the Roberts ruins. Below this the trail passes through a layer of sandstone and then drops sharply again for several hundred yards. This is another section you may want to walk. The last mile of the ride levels out again and provides wonderful single-track riding through the lush, green canyon to Davy Brown Campground.
At this point you have a choice of two return routes. The longer route is all on pavement and follows Sunset Valley to Cachuma Saddle and then goes up over Ranger Peak and back to the upper Davy Brown trailhead.
The more direct route is via the Figueroa Jeepway, which is located a half- mile below the campground. To reach it, turn left on Sunset Valley Road, cross the creek, and ride to the large meadow with horse corrals. You will see the jeepway left of the corral.
The jeepway immediately begins to climb, rising steadily uphill for four miles to the Catway. Once you reach the Catway, turn left and ride up one short hill, then enjoy the downhill, which lasts for 2.5 miles until you reach Figueroa Mountain Road. Not too far beyond the uphill there is a beautiful window looking out toward San Rafael Mountain. This is the place for lunch. Black Willow Springs Trail starts here, though in its present condition I wouldn’t recommend trying to ride it.
Once you reach Figueroa Mountain Road, follow it left 1.7 miles back to the Davy Brown trailhead. If you are really, really cool, rather than forcing your friends to ride back up to the car with you, have them ride on back to Mattei’s Tavern. It’s a wonderful downhill coast, once which every rider ought to experience, preferably often.