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


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Map Key

10.2

Miles

16.5

KM

60%

Singletrack

3,156' 962 m

High

890' 271 m

Low

2,366' 721 m

Up

2,364' 721 m

Down

9%

Avg Grade (5°)

57%

Max Grade (30°)

Dogs Off-leash

E-Bikes Not Allowed

Overview

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.

Description

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.

Contacts

Shared By:

Leslie Kehmeier with improvements by James M

Trail Ratings

  4.3 from 53 votes

#319

Overall
  4.3 from 53 votes
5 Star
45%
4 Star
42%
3 Star
8%
2 Star
6%
1 Star
0%
Recommended Route Rankings

#43

in California

#319

Overall
85 Views Last Month
29,968 Since Apr 12, 2013
Difficult Difficult

0%
2%
7%
7%
81%
2%

Photos

Cistern overlook where the fire road meets Camino Cielo. Trail continues to the right where the paved road turns to dirt again and is a steep hike-a-bike up.
Oct 22, 2015 near Summerland, CA
Killer views from the climb up Romero Road
Apr 15, 2013 near Summerland, CA
Riding across the ridge towards the top of the Romero singletrack
Apr 15, 2013 near Summerland, CA
Lower Romero DH section.
Aug 18, 2021 near Summerland, CA
Lower Romero Canyon downhill.
Jul 19, 2019 near Summerland, CA
High on the Romero singletrack
Apr 15, 2013 near Summerland, CA
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Weather


Current Trail Conditions

Bad / Closed 5 days ago
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Check-Ins

Apr 10, 2024
Man Rider
road is washed out/closed 1mi
Jan 30, 2024
Frank Selker
Road is still out 2/3 way up
Mar 7, 2023
Frank Selker
Road up was impassable (at least to us) about 2/3 way up at a big slide.
Jan 13, 2023
Mike Reed
Romero has suffered quite a bit of damage from the recent rains. Bella Vista road is washed out next to the new bridge. The trail itself has multip…
Dec 14, 2022
Dick Nobbs
Sickkkk
Jan 29, 2022
Julie Birkle
Upper Romero is closed
Jan 20, 2022
Erik Thunstrom
Jun 19, 2021
Justin Ooms
The top by the tower to make it a loop instead of out and back at the top is blocked off, marked by forest service that no persons shall pass... 10.9mi — 5h 00m
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