Give to your favorite local project in IMBA’s Dig In campaign and REI will match all donations up to $25,000!
MTB Project Logo

Romero Loop

 36 votes

9.9 Miles 16.0 Kilometers



2,426' 740 m


-2,425' -739 m


3,165' 965 m


883' 269 m



Avg Grade (5°)


Max Grade (27°)

All Clear

36 days agoUpdate

Figure eight loop with a leg-burning 6 mile climb and a thrilling 4 mile descent

Leslie Kehmeier


Big mountains tumbling head over heels into the sea. There are few places in the world that have this setting; Santa Barbara is one of them. Looking up from town you'll see the Santa Ynez mountains rising steeply. You'll also be looking at Romero Canyon and one of the better mountain bike rides in the area.

Need to Know

The trails in Romero Canyon are heavily used by many different groups. Be mindful of your speed while riding the trails.

Be sure to get a bike bell, distributed by the Santa Barbara Mountain Bike Trail Volunteers. The bells help other users on the trail be aware of mountain bikers.


Start the Romero Loop with a big climb up Romero Fire Road, a historic dirt road that climbs all the way to the top of Camino Cielo. It's grinding and steep at first but eventually mellows out into steady pedaling. At about a half mile up you'll see the bottom of Lower Romero on your left; this is where you'll drop out. Its half a dozen miles up so dont get too much into the thousand mile stare; youll not want to miss the views of the Channel Islands and the Pacific Ocean.

At about 4 miles you'll come to a four way intersection of trails which divides the Upper and Lower Romero trails. Upper Romero feeds in from above and Lower Romero drops down below. You'll continue straight but the remaining ~2.5 mile climb ahead is unshaded and taxing. Taking Lower Romero down from here is a valid option, especially if you're feeling the toll of the first few miles of climbing.

After a particularly breathtaking view of the ocean the trail continues around the mountain to an unexpected pass where you'll stay right as the trail forks. The trail connects with a paved road on which you'll travel downhill for a few hundred feet before taking what looks like a foot path to your right where the pavement stops. You'll have to walk your bike up this section through a couple fences that look impassable but have openings for hikers/bikers.

Once the climb tops out, the route traverses the ridge to the east to access the top of Upper Romero. There will be another fork but you can avoid the vicious wall to your right by staying left and wrapping around the hill. The next fork will come up soon and you'll head right, toward the first switchback. Your sweet reward awaits, a two-part descent that combines the essentials of great trail riding into one experience.

Start with Upper Romero, a fast section of trail. The first few switchbacks on the way down are very tight and difficult to see due to overgrowth so check your speed. Parts of the trail are less than 1 foot wide and loose so take caution. After the initial part of the descent the trail carves in and out of the chaparral canopy covering the upper hillsides of Romero Canyon. Views are available, but dont gaze for too long or you might fly off the trail.

Be aware of speed when you approach the intersection to cross Romero Fire Road onto Lower Romero. Look both ways as this road/trail is popular for both climbing and descending.

You'll begin Lower Romero with a fast and flowing section with a few rocks. The trail then quickly gets into several technical rock gardens. Pick your line and pick it quick. A continuous grove of gnarled oak trees lives throughout this section and there are a few creek crossings which may be difficult after heavy rains. The lower you get, the bigger the rock gardens become. Don't be fooled by a few smooth sections because you'll have to have your 'A' game on to the end where your adrenaline will be surging and your legs and arms will be on fire.

Lower Romero dumps out on Romero Fire Road for the last bit of the ride. The final rock section is fast so be aware of your speed as you approach the trailhead.


Rate Featured Ride

   Clear Rating

4.2 from 36 votes

Get On-Trail Navigation

Send to Phone
Your Check-Ins


Oct 28, 2017
Dylan Davis
Great trail, views are amazing. Descent is worth the ascent. 11.2mi
Aug 13, 2017
Darren DeLozier
Fun climb!
Jul 26, 2017
Min Park
Jul 16, 2017
Kenj W
A bunch of hikers at 7am. Rock gardens on the upper side are pretty technical. 12mi — 1h 06m
May 23, 2017
Steve Shapiro
Went to the top of Romero loop just to find that the top is closed. It must have been for a while since they had a tractor dig up the entrance. 11.7mi — 1h 34m
May 21, 2017
Bede Pittenger
May 13, 2017
Philip Chenette
Apr 16, 2017
Ben Zastovnik
11.3mi — 1h 54m

Stewarded By

Trail Ratings

  4.2 from 36 votes


  4.2 from 36 votes
5 Star
4 Star
3 Star
2 Star
1 Star


in California


398 Views Last Month
17,082 Since Apr 12, 2013
Intermediate/Difficult Intermediate/Difficult



All Clear 36 days ago

Getting forecast...

I respectfully disagree with Tom - the lower DH section has some nice technical rock gardens. It's definitely possible to fly through most of them. A lot of fun if you are able to go for it. As with any trail around here the dust depends on the season. The DH section is all in the forest too which is a nice change from most of the tougher, higher trails in the area. Nov 25, 2016
Just got back from riding the trail. The top section is blocked off and posted do not use. The bottom of the top section has no sign so I'm not sure what is going on. I did the lower section & It is very fun and 100% ride-able. Lots of rocky sections and stream crossing. The pedal up is definitely worth the ride but beware the weeds & Ivy. Super itchy, wear protection. May 23, 2017
Joseph Custer
Carpinteria, Ca
Joseph Custer   Carpinteria, Ca
One of my all time favorite trails. A great climb and a really fun, ride-able downhill. Sometimes I like to climb up and then just bomb down the fire road; the way you go up. Other times I'll hit the single track and have fun challenging myself. The whole thing is not too difficult to ride now that it's been filled in a lot of spots and cleared away. It's a great trail. Sep 24, 2017

MTB Project is part of the REI Co-op family,
where a life outdoors is a life well lived.

Shop REI Mountain Bike

MTB Project is supported by

Support Your Local IMBA Chapter