A grinding ascent followed by a steep and technical singletrack descent make this challenging ride a classic. Along the way be sure to take in the great views of the ocean and the interior of the Los Padres National Forest.
What Makes It Great
Little Pine Mountain loop is one of the best rides in the Santa Barbara area. For riders tough enough to handle the 3,400-foot climb, this ride offers incredible views of both the Pacific Ocean to the west as well as the stunning mountain lines of Los Padres National Forest unfurling to the east. Your reward for summiting the climb atop Little Pine Mountain will be a secluded stand of pines and the chance to catch your breath. For the ride down, be sure to drop your seat and get ready for the famous Santa Cruz Trail downhill. This is where the real fun begins. The trail transitions from wide open fire road, to winding single track, as riders descend on the smooth, buffed out trail.
This trail is also an excellent starting point for those looking for a longer ride, as the trail intersects with the Camuesa Connector Trail, 19 Oaks Trail, and the Buckhorn Road all of which can be used to create a variety of loop rides.
Who is Going to Love It
This ride is perfect for intermediate to advanced riders looking for a killer workout, followed by a rewarding and fun downhill. Riders will enjoy the secluded feel that one gets from traveling into the Santa Barbara backcountry. Almost immediately riders will feel as though they’re miles away from civilization.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
From downtown Santa Barbara head northeast out of town on California Highway 154, turn right onto Paradise Valley Road and follow directions to Upper Oso Campground. At the far end of the campground there is a free day-use parking lot.
From the Upper Oso Trailhead, start up Big Pine Road. In less than a mile you’ll see the Santa Cruz Trail connecting on your left. This will be your return route. Keep climbing on Big Pine Road for 12 miles until it tops out, and then look for a large water tank on your left near Happy Hollow Camp. This makes a good place to take a break. About 1.5 miles past this camp you’ll see a trail head on your right, this will be your return trail.
Please remember that this area is also heavily used by hikers, trail runners, and equestrians. Always yield right of way and keep an eye out for uphill traffic.