So, you’re in the Santa Ynez Valley, you don’t have a lot of time or money but want something active to do where you can experience “The Valley.” My suggestion would be a hike or mountain bike ride up Refugio Road. A few miles past the bridge crossing the Santa Ynez River, Refugio Road turns into dirt road “Forest Route 5N12.” It is possible to drive this road but certainly not recommended as the road is NOT maintained by the county. Instead, leave your vehicle behind and either jump on your mountain bike or put on some comfortable shoes and start walking. The dirt road meanders its way up the mountain (a pretty steep climb at times!) through the Los Padres National Forest. It is about 3.5 miles to the top where you have a fabulous view of the Pacific Ocean. To the west is Ronald Reagan’s ranch, aka the Western White House, but all you can see is the gate. If you are in really good shape you can continue down the road (which is now paved) and eventually end up at Refugio State Beach. To do this as a loop you are looking at about 27 miles round tip
This is also a great walk with your dog but I would recommend keeping your pooch on a leash. Remember, this is a wildlife area and you can run into bears, mountain lions, rattlesnakes and more. Plus, there is a lot of poison oak in this area. But don’t let any of this deter you. In the 20+ years I have been hiking and biking these trails I have only ever seen fresh bear tracks once. Click here for tips on what to do if you should encounter a mountain lion.
What’s cool about it?
Requires no $$, great views!
- Getting there: Google Map to Refugio Rd