- Saturday, December 09, 2023
Southern California Trails
Buckhorn - #Buckhorn
Socal - Santa Barbara County - Santa Barbara NickNames: #Buckhorn
From 101 north take 154 north. Follow the signs about 12 miles or so to Paradise Rd. Hang a right and drive for about 7 more miles. Park at Lower Oso campground. You will need a Forest Adventure Pass.
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- Trail UpdateDisappointment-My boyfriend and I attempted the epic ride yesterday, 9-23-06, and were disappointed. We climbed the long Camuesa Road to Buckhorn Road, roughly 9 miles, with great anticipation. We reached the Buckhorn Trailhead after about 2 hours of climbing and headed down, only to stop after a mile to turn back. The trail is heavily overgrown, with soft dirt, shale and thick leaf coverage. If you want to ride it, wear your full-fingers and cover your arms and legs, but I would suggest taking the Camuesa Connector off the fire road for a shorter but worthwhile ride instead. Word of caution to all, you'll be sharing the trail with dirt bikers and hunters carrying rifles and riding 4-wheeled ATV's.
hemajang a 40-something year old Die-hard Enthusiast riding a Specialized Epic Disc Comp from Tustin
- Trail UpdateBuckhorn-We had a group of 20 riders from Orange County and S.L.O. ride this trail on April 23. The weather was perfect which made the fire road climb pleasant to the Buckhorn single track. The descent down felt like mach 1 over small marble like rocks. After we reached the Indian Creek single track we rode through an endless forest of poison oak!A lot of the trail was overgrown but it was beautiful and very fun to ride. I think we had at least 25 stream crossings before reaching the Camuesa fire road. We decided to make a left turn at the Camuesa fire road and go down to Mono camp for a lunch break. We followed the Santa Ynez river single track as best we could back to Gibralter. The trail was extremely grown over and sandy for at least a mile before we crossed the stream and found the trail. There was some hike a biking involved but most of the trail back to Gibralter was rideable. Once we came to the end of Gibralter we took the paved road back to Upper Oso. This trail would be incredible with some good maintainance. It was obvious that the winter storms had damaged parts of the trail after Mono camp and the poison oak followed us for the next week.With that being said, I have no regrets about riding this epic trail. The diverse terrain and remoteness of this back country area is truly worth experiencing!
ranchtube a 43 year old Die-hard Enthusiast riding a Santa Cruz Blur from Orange County
- Trail UpdateTurkey Day Ride - Phenominal-If you've only hit the front side of Santa Barbara, you are missing out on some great riding. While not the most technical trail out there, this is a great ride for the scenery, variety and quiet trails. I set out early this morning to do the Buckhorn loop for my first time ever. Couldn't have asked for a better day. The ride up to the trailhead is long, but the scenery is nice as usual. Just listen for the motor traffic and all is good...
The ride down Buckhorn Trail is very unique. The terrain variety is unsurpassed in this region. It starts off by dumping you very very quickly into the stream bed. Something like 1200' elevation lost in 1.5 miles. It's steep, loose and the recent rains have made a nice rut, but it is also smooth so all you need is good brakes. Once in the stream bed, the surroundings change into a New Englandesque area and things become very flat. Crossings that are doable start popping up, then you get to the real stream. There was evidence of recent significant flooding, so be careful if there is ever a chance of rain (like that happens often!) When I was there, there was way too much water to ride across as the bike would be completely submerged. I had to do some rock hopping, often down or upstream to get across. For the doable crossings, you can check out the redrock area to see what its like since the stream beds are similar. If you bring a water filter, this is probably the best place to fill up. Further down, the dense oak, mud and moss open into semi-arid surroundings and the stream dries up. Shortly thereafter, you'll hit Camuesa Road, where you can hang a right for some fairly nice fireroad climbing, mainly in oaks at the bottom then changing to the Buckhorn environment about 3/4 the way up. Camuesa Rd. is much more rolling and never as steep as the climb up to Little Pine, but having done the ride to the mines before, the other route is also a good option. For an all dirt ride, stick to the fireroad.
My advice if you do it alone like I did is to bring a water filter (or more than 3 liters of water) and plenty of food. It's a pretty long way from help back there. I made the mistake of not filling up along Indian Creek, and had to settle for some more stagnant water on the Santa Ynez. Also, get a map from the ranger station on the way in. I brought a lot more extraneous crap that probably wasn't necessary too.
Total distance (with a stopover in Mono) 34 miles, something like 6000+' of climbing and 5.5 hours with stops. Have fun, it's a good ride.
Ride rating: Advanced
Ride distance: 34 miles Elevation change: ~6000
Singletrack=40% Dirt Road=60%
Mess a 23 year old from Santa Barbara
- Trail UpdateBuckhorn-Hhmm
It sounds wonderfully/fearfully difficult.
I will try to start earlier or turn around and come back if it gets too late.
Thanks for the input Preacher and Andrew.
May both of you ride forever.
Turtleman a Die-hard Enthusiast
- Trail UpdateIt's A Grueller...-Yes, listen to the preachings of the preacher. The ride took me 6 1/2 hours and I actually KNEW where I was going but only because I did the IMBA ride last year and I started the ride at about 8:30 am. Turtleman, try calling the IMBA office and see if they have any maps. Maybe they can fax you one. There's a great map of the entire area abvailable at the main ranger station for $3.95. Yes, much of the route is un-rideable for mere mortals like myself. I also forgot to mention the numerous washed out sections and sandpits that threaten to spin you out or hurl you over. They did both to me. Also, I was whapped by a satanic slab of poison oak that showed up on my arm a few days later, that dastardly VILE WEED!! Wear long sleeves and cover your legs. The trail conditions have worsened since last year but not overly so. Then again, the day before the IMBA ride everyone did some trailwork so things were pretty peachy. Anyway, unless you know where you're going, I wouldn't recommend going it alone, and definitely not when darkness is looming. Also, dare I say it I'd actually bring more FOOD than water. Yes, you will need plenty of water but trust me on this, YOU WILL BE RAVENOUS well before this eternally epic ride is over...do it up....
Andrew a 32 year old
- Trail UpdateP.S. If You Start At Noon...-I think you will be pushing it -- especially if you don't know the way -- now that we're back on PST. Start earlier if you can.
- Trail UpdateBeen On Buckhorn Only Once...-and it is truly a "back country" trail.... maybe a little TOO back country, because as Andrew states below, you will definitely be doing some walking. Maybe if (dare I say it?) more people actually ride this trail, it will get a little more rideable.
I'm embarrased to say that I actually got lost on this trail which turned a simple 27 mile exploration loop (I started and finished at Mono campground) into an out-of-water-cramped-to-the-max-can't-even-balance-my-bike death ride. Then, the drive back from Mono CG to Santa Barbara took about another hour... one of the 2 biggest bonks in my 15-year MTB history. This was actually planned as a "pre-ride" of last year's IMBA epic, which I DID NOT attend! After I got home, I discovered that part of the problem with my exhaustion was that my rear axel had snapped inside the hub, giving me tons of rolling resistance. That, and that I'm just a big pussy!!
Anyway, I can tell you that Camuesa Road up to Buckhorn road is a long, but gradual climb. Gibralter Trail past the dam and back out to the Upper Santa Ynez camping areas will be less climbing, but probably more technical (I have not been on this trail for years). Either way, you are in for a big, gruelling ride, with lots of great back country scenery. Take tons of water and be careful not to get lost.
- Trail UpdateBuckhorn-First of all, Andrew, thanks for posting this ride! It sounds awesome.
Second, I was planning on doing this IMBA designated Epic ride myself on around Nov 8 weekend. I was hoping if you could give little more details about the trails. Frustrating thing about IMBA is that they give no details about their Epic trails on their website. When you came down Indian Creek trail, did you take Camuesa road back to Upper Oso or continued on to Mono Dam and eventually to Gibraltar trail? (Taking the Gibraltar trail loop looks longer on the map, but also looks more interesting because it goes along the southern edge of Gibraltar Reservoir. Also Camuesa road looks shorter but it runs close to Camuesa Peak, so I wonder if it is more difficult route in terms of climb?)
How many hours did your ride take? It seems like a long, grueling ride that will push me to the limit. My start time may be around noon, and with sunset around 5:30 pm these days, do you think I will make it?
Thanks in advance.
Turtleman a 39 year old Die-hard Enthusiast from Weir Canyon
- Trail UpdateBuckhorn Epic Loop-#1) Leave your SIDI Dominator shoes at home! This is an incredible ride that requires more stamina than technical skill although if you are a trials rider you will be able to ride WAY more of the creek crossings than I could. First of all, let me say that this is the BEST fireroad climb I have ever encountered and believe me, being a socal resident I've climbed a million of em'. The reason that makes this one best is the never ending awe-inspiring scenery that awaits around EVERY turn. It's amazing. After 9 miles or so, you'll reach the well signed buckhorn singletrack. The next four miles go DOWN FAST. There's a few tricky switchbacks and some divot-dips but most are clean-able. The trialsy part comes up next when the trail morphs into Indian Creek Trail. It's like you're riding on another planet down here. This area is extremely rugged and remote with about 25-30 creek crossings (minus the water) laced with giant boulders. I rode about ten of them...tops. This is where some more bendable shoes would have helped matters a bit. You're so blown away by the surroundings though that hike-a-biking hardly seems to matter. Anyway, after 2 sandwiches, 2 energy bars, 3 GU's, 100 oz of H20, a bottle of Gatorade, a pack of turkey jerky, an apple, and 37 miles later I was back at the car. Then I slobbed out at Hometown Buffet. Everybody NEEDS to do this ride...
Ride rating: Advanced
Ride distance: miles 37 Elevation change: 4,000 feet
Singletrack=40% Dirt Road=40% Paved Path=20%
Andrew a 32 year old Die-hard Enthusiast from Hollywood