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Trail difficulty
GREEN
Elevation Gain
1,201.00 ft (366.06 m)
Trail type
One-way/Shuttle
Distance
29.40 mi (47.31 km)
Please respect the outdoors and leave no trace. One tip how to dispose of waste properly: Pack out toilet paper and hygiene products. For more information, visit https://lnt.org/learn/7-principles

When people think of wine country in California, they think of Napa Valley, Sonoma, Mendocino, Lodi... but it wasn't until the movie "Sideways" came out in 2004 that a greater mass of the wine-loving population became familiar with Foxen Canyon in Santa Maria Valley. Even though some of Foxen Canyon's vineyards have been around for quite some time, Rancho Sisquoc pressed its first grapes in 1972, and it still remains a highlight of the area. So, what does all this wine talk have to do with outdoor adventure? What better than a weekend bike ride through some of the prettiest landscapes in Santa Barbara County?

Foxen Canyon Road is a great destination for a moderate length ride. From start to finish, the entire road is 29.4 miles along; however, you can chose to do this route in a number of ways. If you have your own bike and a friend, you can set a shuttle in Santa Maria and Los Olivos. Alternately, you can do an out-and-back that is fit for your strength level. The road is windy, offering spectacular views of the San Rafael Mountains at the summit of the second of two climbs when heading south to north. Unfortunately, there is no designated bike lane or much of a shoulder, but local traffic is used to cyclists and seems to pay attention well enough.

What's a ride through wine country without some wine? Currently, there are 14 vineyards on the Foxen Canyon Wine Tour. Most of them are open for tastings until at least 4 p.m., and some are open until 5 p.m. An excellent halfway point is the Rancho Sisquoc Vineyard. Cottonwood Canyon alxo offers wine cave tours, if that sparks your interest! Built in the mid-1990s, Cottonwood Canyon was the first winery on the Foxen Canyon Trail to utlize these subterranean structures for the purpose of storing and aging wine. 

Here is a full list of the vineyards on the wine tour route you can choose from (south to north): 

  • Firestone Vineyard
  • Andrew Murray Vineyards
  • Koehler Winery
  • Fess Parker Winery and Vineyard
  • Zaca Mesa Winery
  • Martian Ranch & Vineyard
  • Tres Hermanas Vineyard and Winery
  • FOXEN
  • foxen 7200
  • Rancho Sisquoc Winery
  • Riverbench Vineyard Tasting Room
  • Kenneth Volk Vineyards
  • Cottonwood Canyon Vineyard and Winery
  • Cambria Winery and Vineyards

Too many options? Guess you'll have to do the ride more than once! If you choose to ride with a company, Santa Barbara Wine Country Tours offers an excellent half-day option with a farm-to-table lunch and wine tasting with your ride. The tour starts in Los Olivos and weaves its way up and through Foxen Canyon Road, following the Sisquoc River Valley rangeland, up through Ballard Canyon, and finishes in Slovang where you will be shuttled back to your start point.

Whichever route you decide to take, you won't be disappointed. Just remember to bring plenty of water because it can get quite hot from late spring to early fall.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)

Spring
Fall

Congestion

High

Parking Pass

None

Open Year-round

Yes

Pros

Scenic ride. Paved road. Vineyards.

Cons

Narrow roads. No public restrooms. No potable water.

Pets allowed

Yes

Trailhead Elevation

800.00 ft (243.84 m)

Highest point

1,566.00 ft (477.32 m)

Address

Foxen Canyon Rd
501
Santa Maria, CA 93454
United States

Features

Bird watching
Big vistas
Wildflowers

Typically multi-day

No

Suitable for

Motorized vehicles

Location

Field Guide

Nearby Adventures

Santa Maria Valley + Santa Lucia/La Panza Mountains, California
Santa Barbara + Sierra Madre/San Rafael Mountains, California
Santa Maria Valley + Santa Lucia/La Panza Mountains, California

Nearby Lodging + Camping

Santa Barbara + Sierra Madre/San Rafael Mountains, California

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