Two wheels and one wide-open road add up to a feeling unlike any other. And with rolling, vineyard-lined hills and all kinds of all-level routes, it’s no wonder so many people choose to seek that feeling in the Santa Ynez Valley. If you find yourself in the mood for an active adventure that allows for a little wine-tasting action, the 44-mile Drum Canyon Loop won’t disappoint.
Hit the Road on Highway 246
From Hotel Hygge, head south on the Avenue of the Flags to Highway 246 to officially start the loop. As you hit the edge of town, turn left onto Ballard Canyon Road, and let that take you all the way to the outskirts of Los Olivos. As you hit Highway 154, Ballard Canyon Road will dead end, and Foxen Canyon Road will pick up where it left off to keep you heading north.
Take a Quick Tasting Break Outside of Los Olivos
If you find yourself getting thirsty as you begin climb Foxen Canyon Road, Petros Winery will provide a very welcomed pit stop. Once you’ve had the chance to sample an elegant Greek-style wine or two, hop back on Foxen Canyon Road and keep climbing until your 3.5 miles outside of Los Olivos. There, you’ll find a scenic lookout that’s well worth stopping to take in.
A Whole Lot of Wineries on Your Way to Los Alamos
As you keep heading North on Foxen Canyon Road, you’ll pass three more wineries: Andrew Murray Vineyards, Koehler Wineries and Fess Parker before Foxen Canyon veers west. After you pass Zaca Mesa Winery (which offers outstanding Rhône-style wines and a great place to take a break if you need one), you’ll hit Alisos Canyon Road. Turn left to head south toward Los Alamos.
Charming Streets and Fantastic Flatbreads
When you reach the end of Alisos Canyon Road, ride parallel to the 101on Carrari for 2.2 miles until you hit Main Street in Los Alamos. If you’re feeing a bit peckish at this point in your ride, we recommend a quick detour to order a pepperoni and peppers flatbread at Full of Life Flatbread and peruse the quaint Downtown Los Alamos while you’re at it.
Did Someone Say Scenery?
Once you feel fully refueled, get back onto Main Street and head west until you hit Centennial Street. There, turn left, and in a few short bocks, Centennial will turn into Drum Canyon Road and deliver one of the most scenic stretches of this entire trek. Take your time and take in the sites as you wind your way south on Drum Canyon Road.
The Home Stretch Calls for a Celebration
Just before you hit Lompoc, you’ll pass Dierberg Vineyards and Tasting Room. And as you cross Highway 246, Drum Canyon Road will turn into Main Road. Head South on Main until you hit Domingos Road and turn left. Domingos will connect you with Highway 246, which will bring you right back into Buellton. As you hit the edge of town, you’ll find Brick Barn Wine Estate. And we’d say by this point in the journey, you’ve certainly earned yourself a treat. Stop by for a taste of their award-winning pinot noir, a glass of their cabernet franc rose or just a breath of fresh air on their brick-laden patio. From Brick Barn it’s a straight shot east on Highway 246 to Avenue of the Flags—which will take you right back to Hotel Hygge. So you can relax knowing you’ve only got 1.8 miles of the journey left.
There are few places in the country quite like the Santa Ynez Valley, with its rolling vineyard-lined hills and charming, character-rich towns. And seeing it on a bike is a great way to ensure you’re not overlooking all the best parts. But its important to make sure you bring plenty of water and have researched your route in advance. If you need to rent a bike (or just pick up a spare tube or two for your own) Dr. J’s Bicycle shop is a great spot to try. And if you’d like to read another cyclist’s account of riding the Drum Canyon Loop, we recommend this route overview (note that this person picked up the loop in Los Olivos). Remember to take your time and never hesitate to take breaks. We’re confident that the memories of this ride will be well worth the extra time you spend you spend making them.