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Los Padres National Forest - Santa Barbara

The Buckhorn Trail is a 34 mile ride through the Los Padres National Forest east of Santa Barbara. Elevation ranges from 1,000 to 3,600 feet, with a total 3,900 feet of climbing. The ride includes long climbs up well-maintained fire roads and steep descents on single tracks.This ride has been designated as an IMBA Epic Ride. In 1999 the International Mountain Biking Association (IMBA) created the Epics Ride program. Their goal was to put together a list of the best rides across the U.S. and around the world. Since then the list has grown to 20 rides, 3 of which are in California. The other California Epic Rides are The Big Boulder Trail in Downieville and Cuyamaca to Noble Canyon in Julian.

How to get there:

From Santa Barbara take Hwy 101 to Hwy 154. Continue on Hwy 154 to Paradise Road, where you'll make a right. On Paradise road you'll pass a ranger station on your left. You can stop here and buy a day pass for $5. Continuing past the ranger station you'll cross over a stream and come to Oso Road on your left. Take Oso Road to its dead end at a locked gate. The ride: My first IMBA Epic ride turned out to be a disappointment since one of the trails in the loop was completely over grown. Instead of being a 34 mile loop up a fire road and down single track, my ride turned into a 19+ mile out and back ride on a fire road. There are two other trails mentioned below that would form shorter loops, but I did not have time to explore these. From the end of Oso Road go around the locked gate and onto Camuesa Road. You'll pass the Camuesa Connector, a single track that branches off to your right. You'll then come to a fork in the trail. Camuesa Road continues to the right. Staying to the left will lead you onto Buckhorn Road. Continuing on Camuesa Road or taking the Camuesa Connector would both lead you on a loop back to the start of the ride. My ride took me nine miles up Camuesa & Buckhorn Road to the Buckhorn Trail. This single-track branches off of the fire road to the right and supposedly continues all the way to the Mono Dam. But on the day I was there in June, 2001, this trail led nowhere. I was able to follow the trail for about a half mile through thick vegetation until the trial completely disappeared. This left me at the bottom of a fairly steep ravine with nowhere to go but back up. IMBA is scheduled to do trailwork here November 3rd, 2001, and hopefully they will be able to reopen this trail.

Photos of Los Padres National Forest - June 11th, 2001

Maps:Trail Maps


Los Padres National ForestIMBA Epics: Buckhorn Trial, Santa Barbara, California

© 2006