Tag Archives: highway 166

San Rafael Wilderness

Sierra Madre Mountains
Cachuma Lake to Cuyama Valley

Sierra Madre Mountains

197,380 acres
Central Coast Foothills
Los Padres National Forest

North of Santa Barbara, CA
East of Santa Maria, CA
South of New Cuyama, CA
West of Ventucopa, CA

San Rafael Wilderness is otherwise known as the Santa Barbara backcountry. The Sierra Madre mountains and San Rafael mountains make up the this chunk of wilderness, a vast open space near the coast – which extends from Lake Cachuma to the Cuyama River Valley. This is the southern ridge line along Highway 166, with few pine trees, mostly oaks, leading west to Santa Maria River.

Figueroa Mountain and Lake Cachuma are to the south near Santa Barbara. Vineyards and wineries skirt the western hills of Santa Maria, cattle grazing, oil fields and agriculture line the northern borders near Cuyama Valley. Dick Smith Wilderness is just to the east a little bit, spanning over toward Hwy 33.

OHV: better known as off-roading and dirt biking is common in the foothills behind Santa Barbara, as well as on the west side of the San Rafael Wilderness, near Miranda Pine and Tepusquet Road. Numerous small campgrounds on dirt roads are positioned around the perimeter, but no OHV trails lead into the wilderness areas.

McPherson Peak – 5749′ elevation
Peak Mountain – 5843′DSCN5759
Timber Peak – 4764′
Miranda Pine Mountain – 4120′
Wheat Peak – 2436′

trailheads –

  • via Figueroa Road #8N09

    • Cachuma Saddle
    • Davy Brown
  • McPherson Peak, on Sierra Madre Ridge
  • Painted Rock, on Sierra Madre Ridge
  • Santa Barbara Canyon, off Hwy 166

developed campgrounds surrounding the wilderness

  • Davy Brown Campground
  • Nira Campground
  • Cachuma Campground
  • Figueroa Campground
  • Manzana Schoolhouse
  • Colson Canyon (OHV) #11N04
  • Brookshire Springs
  • Miranda Pine #11N03
  • Horseshoe Springs
  • Lazy Campground
  • Wagon Flat Campground
  • Barrel Springs #10N06
  • Alesandro Campground

back road access –

  • Figueroa Mountain Road #8N09
  • Tepusquet Road, off Hwy 166
  • Miranda Pine Road #11N03
  • Sierra Madre Ridge Road #32S13
  • Cottonwood Canyon Rd @ Hwy 166
  • Santa Barbara Canyon Rd, off Hwy 166

Native American petroglyphs can be found in this remote region of Central California, but may require topographic detective skills and a full day of action.

rock art

Access to ”Painted Rock” on Sierra Madre ridge is hike in only. The dirt road that access these trailheads are rough road and not maintained. High clearance may be needed. This day trip is an all-day adventure and you might want to consider bringing the mountain bike. Just stay on the road, as rangers will ticket for riding in the designated Wilderness Areas.PigPen Trailhead

from the west – Cottonwood Canyon, past Bates Canyon Campground up to ridge, east on dirt road #32S13 several miles to the dirt parking area at the pig pen w/ locked gated and signed trailhead.

from the east – dirt road hike is about 10 miles (one way) and it starts at the Santa Barbara Canyon trailhead.

 

If Los Padres Westyou plan to visit the rock art from the west side – take the dirt road road up past Bates Canyon Campground. The turn off on Hwy 166 is called Cottonwood Canyon. Pay attention to private property signs, cuz the locals are serious about their lands.

 

nearby towns –

Rock Front Ranch

rockfrontranch

Rock Front OHV

San Luis Obispo County Off Roading
Los Padres National Forest

Rock Front Area is located on the north side of Hwy 166 in between New Cuyama and Nipomo, on the very edge of San Luis Obispo county in the center of the Santa Lucia Ranger District of Los Padres National Forest.  Landscape varies from rock covered canyons to ridge line trails with outstanding vistas of the the mountains and Cuyama Valley. Remote area features Los Machos Hills, Alder Creek, Branch Creek, Cuyama River, cool rock formations.

15,328 acres
41 miles of trails

From US Hwy 101 @ Hwy 166 travel east 25 miles, left turn into Rock Front Ranch gate on left side. (This road may also be known as Branch Creek Rd on some maps). This off road area can be closed during rainy seasons, so it is best to call rangers ahead of time to ensure the gates are open. There is also one brown Forest Service sign along gate10mileshighway 166, (couple of miles from 101)  letting eastbound traffic know if this OHV area is open or closed.

The dirt Road #32S07 (Arroyo Seco) from the west connecting historic Huasna townsite to Rock Front is CLOSED to thru traffic and has a locked gate. Private properties and ranches are abundant in the backcountry of Arroyo Grande, CA

Los Padres National Forest
Santa Lucia Ranger
805-925-9538

vistas

Rock Front Ranch Campgrounds

Off Road Trails in Rock Front Ranch

OHV trail ratings in this region are designated below
Rock Front OHV

  • Green diamond – easy & least difficult
  • Blue diamond – moderate & more difficult
  • Black diamond – extreme & most difficult

Logan Ridge Trail #17E05
Green diamond. Least difficult. Open to motorcycles, ATVS, 4WD. 1.4 miles long. This route is a good route for beginning riders. It is located on the main ridge top of Logan Ridge. Route dead-ends at a locked gate.

Shaw Ridge Trail #17E06
Black diamond. Most difficult. Open to motorcycles, ATVS, 4WD. 8 miles long. This route leaves the Twin Rocks route on a spur ridge that drops into the Alamo Creek drainage and dead-ends. A very steep section of trail exists at the end of this route where specialized equipment is recommended. This section is recommended for advanced riders.

maps Los Machos Trail #17E07
Green diamond. Least difficult. Open to motorcycles, ATVS, 4WD. 2.8 miles long. This route is a good route for beginning riders. It is located on the main ridge top of the Los Machos Hills. Route dead-ends at a locked gate.

Paradise Trail #17E08
Blue diamond. More difficult. Open to motorcycles, ATVS, 4WD. 2 miles long. Access to Paradise Campground and Los Machos route. It is best suited for intermediate riders due to a steep section along the route. Route dead-ends at a locked gate.

Branch Creek Trail #17E09
Blue diamond. More difficult. Open to motorcycles, ATVS, 4WD. 5.5 miles long. Access to Buck Springs Campground, parallels the Big Rock route and offers a loop ride.

Big Rocks Trail #17E10
Blue diamond. More difficult. Open to motorcycles, ATVS, 4WD. 4 miles long. Located on the main ridge top and intersects with the Jack Springs route.

Twin Rocks Trail #17E12
Blue diamond. More difficult. Open to motorcycles, ATVS, 4WD. 3.5 miles long. This route intersects Shaw Ridge and dead-ends at a locked gate. The first half-mile of this trail is steep. Once on top of the ridge you have excellent views of the Cuyama Valley and the Santa Lucia Range.

Kerry Canyon Trail #30W02
Black diamond. Most difficult. For motorcycles only. 6 miles long. This trail must be accessed through Colson Canyon or Sierra Madre. The trail is highly technical and is recommended for advanced motorcycle riders only.

HORSE TRAINING – Along the highway at the gate of Rock Front Ranch is a rock structure home and ranch catering to horse training. skeltonperformancehorses.com