Spring, winter, fall, are best while summer can be brutally hot.
Yes. But be aware that this trail is heavily trafficked with both riders and hikers, so your dog must be on-leash and comfortable around others. If we’re being honest, we recommend leaving Fido at home.
Located on a ridge above Santa Barbara this ride is just a short drive from downtown. Offering incredible views at the top and a tricky little rock garden at the bottom, this ride is a great challenge.
What Makes It Great
While only four miles, this trail has a bit of a split personality, which makes for a fun and challenging ride. From the ridge, riders are treated to a sweeping view of the city of Santa Barbara below them to the south and west, as well as views of the Channel Islands off the coast. One you drop onto the trail you’ll flow through the first two miles of cruising singletrack, with a few sharp switchback turns thrown in to keep things interesting. At about the halfway mark, the trail dips into a canyon and the ride becomes more rocky, with some substantial drops and steps to navigate. The final mile of the ride follows along San Ysidro Creek before depositing riders in a neighborhood at the base of the foothills.
The ride is commonly done one way, with friends shuttling a car to the finish beforehand for a ride back. However, if you head left on Mountain Drive you can follow that to the Romero Fire Road which can be used to climb back to E. Camino Cielo and back to the start of the San Ysidro descent.
Who is Going to Love It
This ride is best for those who are comfortable with a bit of exposure, some tight corners, and a challenging rock garden at the base. In short, have your technical skills on lock, or be prepared to walk portions. If you’re a downhilling fiend, the best bet is to run a car shuttle with a buddy so you can enjoy endless laps. If you’re more of the type who likes to work for your downhills, then you can easily make this a loop by taking the Romero Canyon Fire Road.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
From downtown Santa Barbara head north toward Gibraltar Road and follow this for nearly 12 miles until it intersects with East Camino Cielo Road, take a right and follow the road until you reach the pullout at Cold Spring Saddle. Look for parking off the road in the dirt pullout at the saddle. From the parking lot, head another quarter mile further down the road, look for the trail on the right hand side, descending toward the city below.
Safety Note: Since this trail is used by both hikers and riders alike, please be sure to wear a bell and practice proper right of way by yielding to hikers.