Guide to Zaca, Foxen, Alisos, Drum, Harris Grade and Santa Rosa Road - Epic Road Rides Back to top
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The Ride Wine country cycling (route 4): Zaca, Foxen, Alisos, Drum, Harris Grade and Santa Rosa Road loop

Distance

Elevation gain

Difficulty

Epic rating

118 km
1,110 m 
  
 

Distance

Elevation

118 km
1,110 m 

Difficulty

Epic rating

  
  

This route takes you on a memorable tour of wine country in the Santa Ynez Valley.

Foxen Canyon Road and Alisos Canyon Road are quiet and tranquil with beautiful vineyard scenery.

Harris Grade Road has the most demanding gradients and is a touch busier than Foxen and Alisos, but still a great winding climb through woodland.

Santa Rosa Road offers a superb return home along the edge of a wide valley, with views of vineyards, farms and agriculture that sustain the area.

Santa Rosa Road, Harris Grade and Foxen Canyon Road all feature on the well-known Solvang Century ride.

For a shorter rides, look at our wine country cycling route 1 and route 2.  For an alternative wine country ride, look at our route 3.

Route map and profile

Route statistics

Related rides

HIGHLIGHTS

Foxen Canyon Road is one of our favourites due to its twisty, undulating nature and vineyard views. This ride incorporates a good 16.5 km chunk of Foxen as well as the lovely, easygoing Alisos.

The return home on Santa Rosa Road is quiet and picturesque. It gives you a real sense of what this rural part of California is all about.

Foxen Canyon Road with no traffic and fields/trees surround it

Foxen Canyon Road

Oak trees on Zaca Station Road

Zaca Station Road

Alisos canyon road with central yellow line down the middle

Alisos Canyon Road

RIDE LOG

1. Santa Ynez (via Zaca, Foxen and Alisos) to Harris Grade Road: 0-57.5 km

The first 42 km of this ride are the same as the superb first 42 km of the Wine country cycling route 2 ride. You may be tempted to shorten the route by riding Highway 101 between Los Olivos and Los Alamos, but we wouldn’t suggest it; Highway 101 is a busy, major road. 

It’s then a gently downhill run along the rural Highway 135 to the start of Harris Grade Road.

2. Harris Grade Road to Santa Rosa Road: 57.5-78 km

After you turn off for Harris Grade, you’re surrounded by fields for the first kilometre before the pitch steepens, and you’re winding up 4 km through forest.  

The descent has some fun switchbacks, and then it’s a long straight downhill to the main road.

The 8km connecting the bottom of Harris Grade Road to the Santa Rosa Road are forgettable, but it’s worth mentioning that the 2 kilometre section on Highway 1 has a decent shoulder, so you’ve got some distance between yourself and the traffic.

3. Santa Rosa Road to Santa Ynez: 78-118 km

Santa Rosa Road offers 26 km of splendid, undulating riding.

It’s the road that locals we spoke to were most keen for us to ride and we can see why they like it. Other than for the odd farm vehicle, it’s peaceful, agricultural and there are vineyard and mountain views too. You may well spot buzzards circling overhead while the relaxed gradients make for enjoyable cycling.

The last 10 km or so are on the 246 home. There’s a decent hard shoulder but expect to be riding with traffic.  If you want to avoid around 8.5 km of this and add an additional 11km to your ride, turn up Ballard Canyon Road into Los Olivos and then back the way you came at the start of the ride, to Santa Ynez.

Zaca Sation Road signpost against a blue sky

Zaca Station Road sign

Harris Grade Road stretching upwards into mist

Harris Grade Road on a misty morning

La Purisima Mission sign

Entrance to La Purisima Mission State Historic Park

CAFé STOPS

At 42 km into your 118 km ride, Los Alamos is a reasonable place to stop for a break. There are a few restaurants, but for something more casual, try Bob’s Well Bread, the best coffee shop and bakery we found in the area. Read more about it here.

It’s also worth considering a stop at La Purisima Mission State Historic Park, which comes at around kilometre 72 of the ride. There’s no café, but if you’re with family, they may enjoy a visit. It’s the most extensively restored mission in California, set in a 2,000-acre park that you can wander around and explore. There’s also a modern and informative visitor centre.

ACCOMMODATION

We did this ride from the fantastic Farmhouse at MK Ranch, between Santa Ynez and Los Olivos. The 20-acre ranch has plenty of space and the pool, play area and horses were a hit with our children. Choose between the three bedroom house and one-bed option. 

If this isn’t what you’re looking for, we have other accommodation suggestions in our ultimate guide to cycling Santa Barbara County. 

Or, if you’re not sure which town you want to stay in, take a look at our article on the best towns for cyclists in Santa Ynez Valley.

TIPS

You may encounter additional traffic on Foxen Canyon Road at weekends, due to wine tasters visiting vineyards. Also take particular care on Highway 1 and the 246.

Santa Rosa Road can become something of a wind tunnel, so pack accordingly.

This ride could be ridden in reverse. The advantage of this would be cycling Highway 246 first and getting to Los Alamos for a break after the halfway point of the ride.

Take a look at our tips for cycling in Southern California before you set out.

Click here for our ultimate guide to planning a cycling holiday in Santa Barbara County.

Found this guide useful?

ARTICLES

14 top tips for Southern California cycling: Santa Monica Mountains and Santa Barbara County
Our 14 top tips for Southern California cycling. We cover preparation, routes, when to ride and more!
Best places to stay in Santa Ynez Valley (for cyclists)
The inside story on the best places to stay in Sant Ynez Valley, including what the main towns are really like and where to stay.
Gibraltar Road, East Camino Cielo and Painted Cave Road loop
Your guide to one of Santa Barbara's most iconic bike rides, including Gibraltar Road, East Camino Cielo, Painted Cave Road and North San Marcos Road.
Route to the sea: Santa Rosa Road and Jalama Beach Road
Your handy guide to this wonderful ride to Jalama Beach via the winelands of Santa Rosa Road. Get a taste for rural Santa Barbara on excellent roads that lead to beautiful Jalama Beach.
Wine country cycling (route 4): Zaca, Foxen, Alisos, Drum, Harris Grade and Santa Rosa Road loop
Your super-helpful guide to a memorable 118 km loop of the Santa Ynez valley, including Zaca Canyon, Foxen Canyon, Alisos Canyon, Drum Canyon, Harris Grade and Santa Rosa Road
Wine country cycling (route 3): Ballard, Drum, Cat and Foxen Canyon loop
Your essential guide to one of the best bike rides in Southern California: a 112km loop of Ballard Canyon, Drum Canyon, Cat Canyon and Foxen Canyon.
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