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Refugio Road passable from 101 to Solvang?

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Old 03-08-17, 01:48 PM
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shotwellian
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Refugio Road passable from 101 to Solvang?

Hi everyone,

I'll be touring later this month and heading from Santa Barbara to Santa Ynez on the last day. After some research, it looks like the best route is 101 and then Refugio Road, but I keep seeing conflicting things about whether Refugio is passable by bike. The County Public Works folks told me the paved ocean side is open (even though their website says it's closed) but that the north side, from the summit to Solvang, is closed indefinitely. Does anyone know whether this is the kind of closure bikes can get through? I don't mind dirt, bad road conditions, etc.
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Old 05-16-18, 11:11 AM
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finally got a chance to check this out this last monday. rode from goleta north on calle real/the 101 to refugio rd on my road bike rocking '23's. it was a 7.5 mile ride from the 101 to the saddle of refugio/west camino cielo-all paved along the skinny road. the first two miles were rolling. after that, the road bucked upwards considerably for about five miles. the first part of the real ascent was about a half mile under a canopy of oaks, then the canopy gave way to some serious ramps and views. rode across two of those really old school cattle grates-albeit very slowly. it's a pretty stiff climbfest for 5 miles. the last half mile is nearly all shaded and relatively easy and then you arrive with west camino cielo rd intersecting on your right and refugio rd continuing straight ahead. as much as i wanted to scout wcc, i was even more curious about the north (santa ynez) side of refugio. after passing the obligatory "santa barbara co does not maintain this road-ride at your own risk" sign, started the descent on dirt. it was about 4.75 miles of downhill dirt at a fairly steady, manageable grade vs the oceanside ramps. dismounted once just to be on the safe side for a stretch of five yards but otherwise, descent was on pretty hard packed dirt. nearly the entire descent was under the shade of the oaks. there is a .25 mile stretch of pristine pavé along the way in the middle of nowhere (must have been where repairs/road closure was last year) that ends all too quickly. once down off the mountain, the canopied shade gives way somewhat and the pavement starts again. highway 246 and the town of santa ynez are about 3 miles away. pretty through this section till the houses start to pop up.

https://www.strava.com/activities/1572410728

i'd do the ride again. challenging and scenic with a proper sense of adventure. very light traffic on a monday from 9am-11am. as i said, did it on 23's but most people would probably be happier with 25's or 28's, especially on the dirt. pavement quality is pretty bad on the paved parts from the 101 to santa ynez. no glaring potholes but plenty of bumpy patchwork will have you taking inventory of your dental work at some point. if you've got a bombproof wheelset, i'd definitely use it vs a lighter one. this is also not a ride to undertake w/o both your brakes being in good working order. no supplies or potable water along the roughly 16 miles of refugio rd. the town of santa ynez on the north side has plenty and the campground at refugio state beach at road's southern end has water. there is also a market at el capitan state beach a mile away via the 101 south.

Last edited by ooga-booga; 05-16-18 at 11:53 AM.
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Old 05-16-18, 11:28 AM
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Cool - thanks for this report! I'll check it out next time I'm down there.

If you do ride the dirt part of West Camino Cielo at some point, please share your experience with that as well! If that's also passable on a road bike, it would provide a way to get between Solvang and Santa Barbara without riding on either 101 or 154, which would be awesome.
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Old 05-16-18, 12:01 PM
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i would like to do the west camino cielo recon at some point this year as i am really curious about that too. the paved side of refugio isn't very wide but there are 2-3 turnout spots
about a mile or two from the saddle where i'll look to park and ride along wcc as far as i can and report back. if it is passable/relatively rideable to san marcos pass area
(then on to east camino cielo), it would definitely be the scenic route. sure won't be the speedy route tho.
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Old 08-13-18, 01:28 PM
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West Camino Cielo Winchester Gun Club BroadCast Peak

In late April this year I rode the unpaved section of Camino Cielo West starting at the gun club and turning around at broadcast peak.

Was a pleasant ride, I saw two runners, a few courteous dirt bikers and one family in a quad/golf cart thing.

Some of the road was fast, definitely keep your eyes up for rocks etc, one steep rocky hill section, and a little bit of sand. I would definitely ride it again.

Bike: Salsa Vaya running 40s.
23.5 mi
3660’ gain
3:10

I have photos but can’t seem to upload them from my phone. Too new a member? Feel free to message me if you’d like them.

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Old 08-13-18, 04:46 PM
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doesn’t exactly bode well/sound good for roadies on
a little “adventure.”
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