Santa Ynez Ridge

Draft Version – Not Ready for Publication!!

The mystic part of doing gravel in Santa Barbara is the allure of the Pacific coast and the Santa Ynez mountains.

This beautiful range, with its distinctive crest, divides the Santa Ynez Valley from the south coast and reaches nearly 5,000 feet in elevation. The mountain range is a striking geological landmark as seen from almost anywhere in the Santa Ynez Valley. Its lush north-facing slopes offer relief in the Valley’s semi-arid climate in addition to an inspiring view. On the crest’s south-facing side, the mountains are tilted steeply at a 50-degree angle to the south and serve as a formidable barrier to land development. The Santa Ynez Mountains define the character of Montecito and Santa Barbara, as much, if not more, than the ocean to its south. [Inside the Santa Ynez Valley Magazine]

What you can expect on this route:

  • Some meandering through the UC Santa Barbara campus and along the Pacific Coast
  • A bit of ugh along highway 101
  • A big climb
  • A rolling but downward trending ridge ride in the Santa Yanez mountains
  • A good descent, but not as long as the climb
  • And a little bike path to finish up.

The route is mostly paved, but 9 miles of gravel connects two paved roads that are small, scenic and fun to ride: Refugio road and Old San Marcos road. Being close to Los Angeles, this route has a more urban feel to it.

A version of this route originally appeared on Gravel Bike California. Thanks to Zachary ?? Please see the detailed route description below as there are a few changes to what is described.

We have tagged this route as a Bandit Route versus a 5 Star Route for two reasons: (1) the five miles along Highway 101 and (2) it has yet to be ridden and verified by a Dirty Freehub Team member. All our research indicates that this is a 5 Star route.

Adventure / Gravel Route

Loop: 57 miles / 6600 ft gain
– Surface: ~ 15% gravel, 85% paved
eBike Friendly: Yes
– Location: Santa Barbara, California
– Published: July 2020

Technical Difficulty & Risk[what this means]

Moderate+. Due to: (a) 9 miles of gnarly, rocky and loose gravel road and (b) some steep ups and downs in excess of 10%

When we like to ride this …

Weekdays when the traffic is less and when it’s not blistering hot. Also, be warned that the bike paths at UC Santa Barbara campus can be “crazy” during class change overs.

The Start

Goleta Beach Park. Flush Toilets.
Lat / Long: 34.416719, -119.833937

Food / Water

Refugio State Beach park, mile 16. Cold Spring Tavern, mile 44.

Go Local

<Randall ??>

Ride Details

**Click to Read More


Wahoo / Garmin Direct Download
Cue Sheet / GPX file / TCX file


Red = paved road
Brown = gravel / dirt road
Blue = single track

For help with GPS files, the RideWithGPs mapping app and to learn how to download our routes for free, see the “Using Our Rides” page.

Ridden and Reviewed by …

Gravel Girl / Team Dirty Freehub

She loves a good day of gravel like most people like a good book. She’s always amused by the outdoors and the wild adventures. Gravel Girl is a Co-Founder of Dirty Freehub.

Captain O / Team Dirty Freehub

He should have “Never Stop Exploring” tattooed on his chest! He loves adventures on bikes and is a Co-Founder of Dirty Freehub.

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