Goleta Valley Loop -

The Best Santa Barbara Road Rides

Ride Log
On the Ride


Difficulty: Easy to Moderate • Paved or Dirt: Paved Path • Mileage: 17.8
Elevation Gain: 200 ft. •

A reasonably easy ride, with few ups and downs, for those who want to get back in shape. There are plenty of parks for picnics along the way, as well as Lake Los Carneros and the historic Stow House and Goleta Depot. In the spring, with green hills and the pastels of wildflowers in blossom, the ride along Cathedral Oaks is delightful. The journey ends with a trip through UCSB and if you’ve planned ahead, an afternoon ending barbecue at Goleta Beach.

Ride Details

  • Use Fees : None
  • Length : 14.0
  • Gain : 400
  • Difficulty : Easy to Moderate
  • Path : Urban streets

Find Other Similar Trails

Difficulty: Easy to Moderate
Points of Interests: Loop TripCounty ParkPicnickingBBQs

Links & Resources

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Driving Directions
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Access / Parking

Trip mileage begins at Goleta Beach

  1. From Santa Barbara take the Ward Memorial (Highway 217) turnoff which leads to UCSB.
  2. A quarter mile before the university entrance, take the Goleta Beach County Park off ramp.
  3. Turn left at the stop sign, go under the 217 and then right into the park.
  4. There is plenty of parking in the park, although the gates close at sunset.

Ride Log

Goleta Beach Start
0.0  Goleta Beach—Ride out through the entrance to the park, then turn right onto the bike path which follows Atascadero Creek.

1.6  Maria Ygnacia Bike Path—Cross Patterson Avenue, go over a small bridge, then turn left onto the Maria Ygnacia Bike Path. In 1.25 miles you dip under the freeway, then curve left and wander through a series of immense eucalyptus trees to University Drive. The bike path continues up the left side of Ribera Drive for .2 mile more to Cathedral Oaks.

3.6  Cathedral Oaks. Continue up Ribera to Cathedral Oaks. For those who would like to savor a few minutes of rest or a short hike, Tucker’s Grove is just a half mile to the right. 

Side Trip to Tucker's Grove
4.1  Tucker’s Grove. The San Antonio Creek trailhead is at the upper end of the park in Kiwanis Meadows. At Cathedral Oaks. Turn right from Tucker’s Grove, and follow this mostly level thoroughfare past Patterson (4.6) and Fairview (5.9) Avenues to La Patera Lane where you’ll spot the grass fields and volleyball courts of Stow Grove.

6.8  Stow Grove. Turn left on La Patera. The park and several other spots along the way provide excellent places to have a picnic or relax awhile. Others include Lake Los Carneros, Stow House, and the Goleta Depot.

Lake Los Carneros
7.0  Entrance to Stow Park. There are picnic tables and barbecue pits amidst groves  of stately redwood, making this a perfect spot lunch spot.   

7.5  Lake Los Carneros. Continue down La Patera a half mile more until you reach a small paved road on the right which leads out along Lake Los Carneros. Ride across the front part of the lake and around it to Stow House.

8.1  Stow House. The pavement leads to the back side of Stow House and several other historic buildings.

8.2  Goleta Depot .Just west of Stow House you’ll find the Goleta Depot, where visits to these two historic sites will provide you with a complete history of the Valley. 

8.4  Cathedral Oaks. From Goleta Depot, turn right on Los Caneros and then left onto Cathedral Oaks.

9.6  Glen Annie. Slightly more than a mile of riding through open countryside and ranchland on Cathedral Oaks brings you to Glen Annie. Continue on Cathedral Oaks past Dos Pueblos High School for several miles to the point where it crosses over Highway 101 to Hollister Avneue near Sandpiper Golf Course.

A Side Tour
11.8  Winchester Canyon. For those of you who would like to extend the trip just a bit by taking a side tour up a pretty canyon, continue past the overpass on Calle Real a half mile to the entrance of Tecolote Canyon where you'll find the Rancho Del Ciervo estates. The road winds for several miles up into the canyon and is relatively level. Adding this side tour will add about 5 miles to your trip.

12.5  Hollister Avenue. Begins immediately across the freeway overpass at the edge of Sandpiper Golf Course. Continue back towards Goleta for a bit more than 2 miles to the K-Mart Shopping area.

Ellwood Mesa & The Monarchs
13.2  Ellwood Mesa. The parking lot for Ellwood Mesa is on the right. If oyu have tires that will work on dirt, the signle track trails through the Mesa area and Coal Oil Point Reserve will take you into Isla Vista on a much more scenic route and eventually through UCSB to Goleta Beach.

13.7  Coronado Drive/Monarch Grove. If you'd like to detour to the grove it is .7 miles down Conorado Drive to the grove from Hollister Avenue.

14.8  Storke Road. Turn right (oceanward) until you reach Francisco Torres, where the road curves left and becomes El Colegio (15.6 mile mark). Cross over to Francisco Torres and you can hop onto the bike path which will take you through UCSB and down to your startign point at Goleta Beach.

17.8  You're back!



On The Ride

The Goleta Valley terrain is relatively mild compared to that on most of the other rides, but it has something not found on many of the other rides: open country; rich grass-covered rolling hills to be enjoyed rather than climbed; and in the spring months a verdant covering that reminds one of Ireland. There are numerous bikeways, including those snaking through UCSB, coastal overlooks, as well as a clustering of historical sites on the edge of one of the area’s least used treasures, Lake Los Carneros.

From Goleta Beach, head east on the bike path as for the previous ride through Hope Ranch. Just beyond Patterson, and over a narrow, arching bridge, turn left onto the Maria Ygnacia Bikeway. There are plenty of small ups and downs as the path crosses, then recrosses the creek. In 1.5 miles you pop out onto Ribera near the University Drive intersection. Continue for another half mile on Ribera to Cathedral Oaks. If you’d like to enjoy a few moments at Tucker’s Grove or a hike nearby on San Antonio Creek trailway, the grove is just a few minutes to the right.

Then turn left (west) on Cathedral Oaks. Though there is a fair amount of traffic for the 2.6 miles to Stow Grove, the bike path along the side of the road is wide and relatively safe. Turn left on La Patera. The entrance to the Stow Grove is two hundred yards, and the paved road circling around the southern edge of Lake Los Carneros a half mile further. Though both are great rest stops, my favorite place to park for awhile is the lake. The view out over the water has the feeling of what the valley must have looked like a hundred years ago and I love watching the ducks and the geese. You can even fish there!

The road leads to the Stow House and just beyond this, Goleta Depot. From there turn right on Los Carneros and return to Cathedral Oaks, following it left  for slightly more than a mile to Glen Annie Road, and then go left again to the freeway. 

The shortest route back to Goleta Beach is out through Isla Vista. Continue ahead on Glen Annie (it becomes Storke Road after you cross over the freeway). As you reach the eight story Francisco Torres, the road turns sharply to the left and becomes El Colegio. Look for the bike path on the left, or mountain side of El Colegio. The bikeway leads through UCSB. As there is often construction going on there the most direct routes through may change from time to time, but half the fun of being on campus is deciphering the maze.

To extend the ride, just before the Glen Annie overpass, turn right (west) on Calle Real and follow it for several miles to Winchester Canyon, bear left, then right again, paralleling the freeway until you reach the Winchester overpass. From there, Hollister will return you back to Glen Annie. You’ll pass Coronado Drive along the way. This leads down to eucalyptus groves which are home to monarch butterflies during the winter months. If you have a mountain bike, or are adventurous, rather than heading back up to Hollister, walk your bike up onto the bluffs and pedal out to the ocean’s edge. More details for this route are included in the next ride. 

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Last Updated: Monday, August 4, 2014