Mountain Drive -

The Best Santa Barbara Road Rides

Ride Log


Difficulty: Moderate to Difficult • Paved or Dirt: Paved Path • Mileage: 16.3
Elevation Gain: 800 ft. •

Mountain Drive is my favorite ride, combining a great workout with fine scenery and the feeling of being deep in the mountains. Cold Springs Creek provides a perfect spot to stop along the way, and if you have a bathing suit with you, swimming holes almost at the road’s edge. The ride takes you into the heart of Montecito and ends with a relaxing ride along East Beach, where on Sundays you can enjoy the “Sabado Y Domingo” Art Show. The route finishes with a cruise up State Street, and past Alice Keck Park and the resplendent homes to be found in the upper Mission area.

Ride Details

  • Use Fees : None
  • Length : 14
  • Gain : 750
  • Difficulty : Moderate
  • Path : Urban streets

Find Other Similar Trails

Difficulty: Moderate to Difficult

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Driving Directions
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Access / Parking

Trip mileage begins at the Old Mission

  1. To reach the Mission, take the Mission Street exit on Highway 101.
  2. Turn north and follow Mission across State Street until it ends at Laguna Street.
  3. Turn left and drive several hundred yards to the Mission.
  4. You can park in the large lot, which is on the south end of the Mission.

Ride Log

0.0      Santa Barbara Mission

0.1      Mountain Drive—Turn right and ride steeply uphill for a hundred yards. Bear to the left at the stop sign. Mountain Drive continues steadily uphill for 1.8 miles to Skofield Reservoir.

1.9      Skofield Reservoir—Bear to the left and ride for .2 miles of steep uphill to the Las Canoas/Gibraltar Road intersection. At this point most of the uphill has been completed.

2.1      Mountain Drive proper. Turn right and continue east across the flanks of the Santa Ynez Mountains for 3.9 miles. This stretch is one of the most enjoyable and beautiful rides to be found in Santa Barbara.

6.0      Cold Springs Road—A shorter ride can be made by dropping down Cold Springs to Hy. 192, turning left, and following this into Montecito. To do, follow Hy. 192 to Hot Springs Road, turn right and follow this downhill and under the freeway to the Bird Refuge. Pick up the main ride description from there.

6.4      Cold Springs Trailhead—If you feel comfortable doing so, lock your bikes and enjoy a few minutes of hiking up Santa Barbara’s most beautiful canyon. Or enjoy the pools right at the road’s edge.

7.1      Ashley Road—Allows you to avoid the uphill to Hot Springs Road and provides a beautiful mile long ride to Sycamore Canyon, where you can turn left and coast down to Hot Springs Road.

7.5      Hot Springs Road—Allows you a bit shorter ride. Turn right and follow this road down to the Bird Refuge.

8.5      San Ysidro Road—Turn right and enjoy the downhill through Montecito. Continue down to the freeway and cross over it to South Jameson Lane.

10.3    South Jameson—Go right, follow for a quarter mile then curve left onto Danielson and continue until it ends at Channel Drive.

10.9    Channel Drive—Bear left and continue past the Coral Casino and Biltmore along Channel Drive to Cabrillo. Cross and take the bike path located on the edge of the Bird Refuge.

13.3    East Beach Bathhouse—Recross Cabrillo and continue on the bike path from the Bathhouse to Sterns Wharf.

14.3    Sterns Wharf—Take a leisurely ride out to the end of the wharf, then ride up State Street to Victoria.

15.0    Victoria Street—Turn right and ride 4 blocks to Laguna Street, turn left and follow it a half mile back to the Mission.

16.3    Santa Barbara Mission


On The Ride

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Last Updated: Monday, August 4, 2014