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Fir Canyon & Jeepway

A Big Downhill and a Good Uphill Make for a Fantastic Loop


Sunday, May 4, 2008

RIDE INFORMATION

Distance - 1.5 miles to the Munch connector; 3 miles to Davy Brown Campground; 3.5 to the start of the jeepway; 7.5 miles to the Catway; 10.5 miles to Figueroa Mountain Road; 12.5 miles back to your car

Elevation Gain - 1,750’ down to Davy Brown; 1,900’ elevation gain back up to Catway; 450’ loss to Figueroa Mountain Road; 325’ gain back along the paved road to your car

Trail Conditions - Davy Brown Trail has lots of rocky sections with exposure. Ride with extreme care

Difficulty - Strenuous with Level 2 and 3 single track. Extreme exposure. Walk any section with which you are not comfortable

Topo - Figueroa Mountain

HIGHLIGHTS

This is the prettiest canyon in Santa Barbara. From its pine-crested start atop Figueroa Mountain to its end at Davy Brown Camp Fir Canyon is filled with lush vegetation, cascading pools and of course, tall firs trees-these called Big Cone Spruce. This is the main trail leading from Figueroa Mountain down to the Manzana Creek. A number of spur trails lead off it, making quite a few different loop rides possible.

DIRECTIONS

From Mattei’s Tavern in Los Olivos, take Figueroa Mountain Road 13.0 miles to the start of the Davy Brown Trail. It is 1.2 miles beyond Figueroa Mountain Campground.

THE RIDE

Davy Brown Trail begins inauspiciously in a small grass-covered saddle, but within a few hundred yards you will find yourself immersed deep in the narrow confines of Fir Canyon, surrounded by big cone Spruce, large Kellogg oaks, and bigleaf maple. The trail itself provides intense single track and you will want to walk some of it. But for those who are technical experts, Davy Brown’s trail will offer you Santa Barbara’s best single track.

A mile down the canyon the trail crosses to the right side of the creek, then in a short distance back to the left. Below here the riding is somewhat level and the canyon incredibly beautiful.

At the next creek crossing you will find the memorial to Edgar Davison and shortly thereafter several connector trails. The first is on the right and goes up to the Munch Canyon Trail. A few yards below this you will find a connector trail leading up and to the left. This leads to the Black Willow Springs Trail.

A half mile of more level canyon riding leads to the Roberts’ ruins. Below here the trail passes through a layer of sandstone and then drops sharply again for several hundred yards. This is another section you may want to walk. The last mile of the ride again levels out and provides wonderful single track riding through the lush, green canyon to Davy Brown Campground.

At this point you have a choice of two return routes. The longer route is all on pavement and follows Sunset Valley to Cachuma Saddle and then up over Ranger Peak and back to the upper Davy Brown trailhead.

The more direct route is via the Figueroa Jeepway, which is located a .5 mile below the campground. To reach it, turn left on Sunset Valley Road, cross the creek, and ride to the large meadow with horse corrals. You will see the jeepway left of the corral.

The Jeepway immediately begins to climb, rising steadily uphill for 4 miles to the Catway. Once you reach the Catway, turn left and ride up one short hill, then enjoy the downhill, which lasts for 2.5 miles until you reach Figueroa Mountain Road. Not too far beyond the uphill there is a beautiful window looking out towards San Rafael Mountain. This is the place for lunch. Black Willow Springs Trail starts here, though in its present condition I wouldn’t recommend trying to ride it.

Once you reach Figueroa Mountain Road follow it left 1.7 miles back to the Davy Brown trailhead. If you are really, really cool, rather than forcing your friends to ride back up to the car with you, have them ride on back to Mattei’s Tavern. It’s a wonderful downhill coast, once which every rider ought to experience, preferably often.

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