Adventure Riding in Los Padres

Los Padres National Forest Bates CanyonLos Padres National Forest, in Central-Coastal California, offers extensive opportunities for all riders.

There are 459 miles of trails and roads specifically designated for off highway vehicles (OHV) which is great for dirt-bike riders. There are also endless miles of dirt roads that are ideal for dual-purpose or larger adventure bikes. And for all other riders, the sensationally scenic strips of pavement running in and around the forest as well as snaking between the mountains and along the ocean total over a gazillion!

This weekend I devoured a tasty mix of moto-camping/riding highlighted with twisty canyon pavement, roller-coaster mountain asphalt, and mostly hard-packed dirt/fire roads punctuated with an abundance of rocks of all sizes (likely newly fallen over the winter), creating a dynamic obstacle course up and down the Los Padres elevations. I camped at one of my favorite Los Padres locations, Reyes Peak Campground (7000 feet elevation), which is on Pine Mountain, and is accessible at the crest of Route 33.

Pictured above is a short stretch of Bates Canyon Road, with Cuyama and the Caliente Mountain Range in the background.

This is accessible from Route 166, by turning onto Canyon Road, which is about a dozen miles west of New Cuyama.

Cotton Canyon Rd is paved for about 5 or 6 miles before turning into dirt and then it gets adventurous after passing Bates Canyon Campground, winding up and around Bates Canyon, and ultimately taking you to the top of the Sierra Madre Mountain Range where you’ll see much more than the view captured in the photo above.

In fact, much of the ride along the top (Sierra Mountain Road) shows you views of both sides of the Sierra Madres, which include the Cuyama Valley on the north, and an endless vista of Los Padres wilderness mountains on the south.

A good place to stop is 20 miles west along the ridge (running parallel with Route 166) at Miranda Pines Campground, which is where Pine Canyon Road (another dirt road) connects up with Sierra Mountain Road.

There are 3 camping sites there, each with a picnic table and fire ring, so it also makes for a great place to enjoy lunch-with-a-view.

Another 10 miles down Sierra Mountain Road puts you back into the civilized world on Route 166 pavement, meandering pleasantly through the Cuyama Valley for any street rider to enjoy.

All-in-all, a very pleasant dual-purpose or adventure riding experience, with plenty more back country, mountainous, dirt-road riding in Los Padres to explore.

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