Figueroa Mountain Road South Bike Climb - PJAMM Cycling

9.9 mi
3,617 ft
6.3 %



Both routes to the top of Figueroa Road, Santa Barbara County, are located almost entirely in Los Padres National Forest (established 1936 by Franklin D. Roosevelt; 1,950,000 acres). The Figueroa Mountain Recreation Area is within the Los Padres National Forest. Figueroa Mountain is part of the Santa Ynez Mountains, which are part of the Pacific Coast Range.  This is a remote and peaceful ride. 
The 6.3% average grade is very misleading.  By removing descent from the gradient calculation, the average grade jumps to 7.9%.  The one mile -6.7% descent beginning at mile three is the main offender in decreasing the average grade.  53% (5.2 miles) is at grades 5-10%, and 20% (1.9 miles) is at 10-15%.  The steepest quarter-mile of the ride is 11.3% and there is a continuous mile averaging 9.9%.

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Roadway:  Good to rough but entirely paved as of 2019.

Traffic:  Minimal.

Parking:  The road is narrow with fencing along each side.  There is a section wide enough to park about a third of a mile from the start of the climb - MapStreet View
Provisions:  None along the route. 
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Consider this climb as an out-and-back with Figueroa Mountain Road West - that makes the ride 39 miles with 7,400' of climbing (Map).

We have stayed in Buellton for our two times riding both sides of Figueroa Mountain Road and dined at the most famous pea soup-focused restaurant in the world (I love pea soup!) - Andersen's.  Also consider staying in the very fun town of Solvang which is founded on Danish architecture and tradition (Solvang Home Page).  There are many homes and villas to rent in the area too.



Difficulty: Strenuous



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May 25, 2022
difficulty: Strenuous
scenery: 5
traffic: 5
road: 3
May 25, 2022
scenery: 5
traffic: 5
road: 3
Underused and underrated. This climb is one of the best in the state. There are about 6 different environments you go through on this climb and all of them are beautiful. Start in Solvang, climb this and then continue for a loop and add on Ballard Canyon road at the end to bring you back. The road quality is all over the place; some sections are very smooth and others have cattle guards and uneven terrain and there is even a mile of light gravel (easily doable on a road bike with 25s). You have a good chance of not seeing a single car if you come during the week. Bring plenty of water-it can get very hot in the canyon leading up to Sunset Valley road.
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Climbing Figueroa Road by bike - Los Padres National Forest sign and road.

Climbing Figueroa Road South and West

Los Padres National Forest

Both routes to the top of Figueroa Road, Santa Barbara County, are located almost entirely in Los Padres National Forest (established 1936 by Franklin D. Roosevelt; 1,950,000 acres).  The Figueroa Mountain Recreation Area is within the Los Padres National Forest.  Figueroa Mountain is part of the Santa Ynez Mountains, which are part of the Pacific Coast Range.

This is the slightly more difficult (6.7 v 6.4 FIETS ranking) of the two Figueroa Mountain Road climbs.  These climbs are off the beaten path and remote, although only 17-24 miles from Solvang, California, a very quaint village that has maintained its long-time Danish heritage.  The town was founded in 1911 by Danes, and it has the appearance today of a true Danish village.  Buellton, home of Anderson’s “World Famous Pea Soup," is also nearby and another lodging option.  Additionally, Santa Barbara is only 60-70 miles from the start of either climb.

cycling Figueroa Mountain Road - photo of  Anderson's Pea Soup - Solvang restaurant and parking lot

Come for the ride, stay for the soup!

The road is very narrow and has about a mile of fairly hard packed gravel beginning just beyond mile two.  There are great views of the Santa Ynez Mountain Range throughout the climb, which at an average grade of 6.5% (including 321’ of descent) does hit 10% for some stretches - the last 4.5 miles average 8.1%.

start of climb on Happy Canyon Road; bike parked next to large dead tree on road side; dry grass fields

Start of climb - Happy Canyon Road.

wet pavement with moss growing on it across the roadway

Beware of wet and mossy pavement around mile 4.7.

gravel portion of roadway beginning at mile 2.2

Gravel from miles 2.2 to 3.1.

bike parked next to sign for Los Padres National ForestClimb is in the Los Padres National Forest.

Left hairpin onto Figueroa Mountain Road at mile 6.5.

photo collage shows Los Padres National Forest landscape, dry brush and grass

screenshot of the PJAMM Cycling app during the ride shows climb grade and profile

PJAMM App during ride.

Narrow road on bike bicycle ride

Narrow and remote road in Santa Ynez Mountains.

photo collage shows views of the Santa Ynez Mountains along the climb 

Santa Ynez Mountains top left and bottom photos.

Roadway Surface and Traffic Report:  This is a single lane road most of the way, but the few vehicles we encountered during our climb were very cautious and slow moving.  The roadway is fairly rough with many patched potholes (that’s the key phrase here - “patched,” which is a good thing), particularly the first half of the climb, but the road has a charm to it and is quite manageable and of no real concern.

Summit:  Both Figueroa South and East share the same summit.  Ranger Peak (1376 m / 4,514’) is just to the south of the finish and White Rock-Munch Canyon Loop is accessed from the finish of our climb - there are hiking trails all through Figueroa Mountain accessed here.

aerial drone view of PJAMM Cycling's John Johnson riding at climb summit

Finish at the pass - descend Figueroa West.

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