Santa Ynez Outdoors

The Definitive Guide to Enjoying the Natural Beauty of the Valley

This is a portion of the outdoors guidebook I have written about the Santa Ynez Valley. I am currently searching for a publisher for the 30-chapter book about actively enjoying the outdoors of the Santa Ynez Valley. Each chapter includes a custom map, photo, and detailed description of the location and the recreation options available there. I formerly wrote for the Santa Ynez Valley Journal for three years as an outdoors columnist, collecting dozens of articles about the Santa Ynez region. On this site I have included the introduction to the book, the introductory synopsis from each chapter, and the sample map and photo for each chapter. This is only a portion of the book that contains much more content in its completed format. My goal here is to gain exposure and hopefully find a publisher. I have had a lot of positive feedback thus far, but no luck on an actual publisher. Any comments, feedback, suggestions, donations or words of wisdom are welcome and appreciated. I have been working on this project for two years and am looking forward to finally finishing it. I have had the content reviewed by a number of officials, including a written endorsement from David Weaver, a Los Padres National Forest Wilderness Ranger. Thanks for your time.

Aliso Canyon

Connector Trail

Knapp's Castle

Little Pine

Red Rock
Swimming Hole

Davy Brown

Mountain Rd.

Mountain Rd.

Munch Trail

White Rock

Gaviota Hot

Gaviota Peak

Hollister Loop

Trespass Trail

Tunnel View

Cachuma Lake

Cold Spring

De La Guerra

Angostura Rd.

Happy Canyon

Jalama Beach

La Purisima

Los Padres
Forest Assoc

Nojoqui Falls

Point Sal

Refugio Rd.

Santa Ynez

Sweetwater Trail

Tequepis Trail

Zaca Lake


After writing about the Santa Ynez Valley for several years as an outdoors columnist for The Santa Ynez Valley Journal, it became apparent that the valley's growing popularity as a tourist destination in southern California warranted the writing of an outdoors guidebook about the area. I've been exploring the valley for more than sixteen years as a cyclist and outdoors enthusiast, hiking and biking up and down the hills and through the backcountry of this majestic region of California. While writing my monthly column for three years, I gained an intimate knowledge of the valley and what it has to offer outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers of all interest levels and abilities.

I've seen first-hand the result of the Sideways effect on the Valley. By this I refer to the impact of the acclaimed 2004 movie Sideways on the valley as a wine lover's paradise. Although for many wine lovers the valley was a popular place to visit prior to the release of this movie, the success of this film catapulted Santa Ynez into the spotlight for many others. AC Nielsen data for the period following the release of the film show a marked increase in wine sales, most notably Pinot Noir, the varietal exalted by one of the main characters in the movie.

During my time exploring the valley I also witnessed the rise of the Chumash gaming casino and it's establishment as a tourist destination in its own right. Prior to the rise in popularity of the casino, which has now become a valley mainstay, Solvang had existed as a destination within Santa Ynez going back many decades. But my relationship with the valley has grown from a love of the outdoors and the phenomenal natural beauty of the greater Santa Ynez Valley. From Figueroa Mountain to Paradise Road, the innumerable options within the nearly two million acre, 2,734 square miles of Los Padres National Forest, and everything in between, there are miles and miles of hiking trails and fire roads, campgrounds, lakes, swimming holes, bird watchers paradises, and if you get tired of those, maybe a glass of Pinot Noir, a game of blackjack, or a delicious pastry.

The guidebook is designed as a guide to help visitors and locals alike explore and enjoy the valley and its abundant natural beauty. It focuses primarily on actively enjoying the valley by describing the many beautiful places available for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers. Whether a mountain biker, road cyclist, hiker, wild flower lover, bird watcher, afternoon picnic lover, or Sunday driver, this book will provide a guide to exploring and enjoying the best of what the valley has to offer. Within each chapter I've made an effort to adapt each experience and location to a variety of potential visitors. Whether for the most experienced outdoors enthusiast planning an extended trip into the backcountry, or someone in search of the season's best wildflower bloom from the front seat of their car, this book will guide you to the best option for your next valley experience.

Each destination is described as it was when I visited, whether on foot, mountain bike, car, horse or mule. In most cases I visited on my mountain bike or as a hiker. Most of the destinations are described as I experienced them according to the mode of transportation I used on each respective trip. If I rode a bike, I describe the destination based on the experience I had that day while riding my bike. However, regardless of how I experienced a trail or destination on a given day, I also do my best to describe aspects of the trail that may be relevant to other people who may want to visit that trail in another way, be it walking, taking a Sunday drive, or otherwise.

The National Forest Service, of which Los Padres National Forest is a part of, is an agency of U.S. Department of Agriculture and has seen dwindling budgets over the past decade. Fewer resources and smaller staffs have resulted in decreased trail maintenance. The trail conditions in this book are described as they were at the time of my visits. As the priorities of the Forest Service shift according to their budget constraints and other factors, certain trails may or may not be maintained with the same diligence they once were. Whenever entering the National Forest or embarking on an adventure near any of the places described in this book, it's important to realize that conditions will vary, and there is no guarantee they will necessarily be as good as they were when I was there. Conversely, there is a chance that maintenance has occurred and conditions will have improved. You can always inquire about current trail conditions by contacting Los Padres National Forest for the trails located within their boundaries. Their website is: and they can be reached by phone by calling: 805-968-6640.

The Santa Ynez Valley is an enormous space and incorporates a massive area. I don't pretend to know every square inch of this vast space, nor can I say that the destinations I'm writing about are with certainty the best of what the valley has to offer. I have focused this book on the locations and experiences I liked best from the places I've been during my sixteen years of enjoying Santa Ynez, and more specifically my three years covering the valley as an outdoors columnist. This guide is meant to share the best of what I've seen during that time. As comprehensive as this book might be in terms of area covered, there are bound to be treasures within the valley that remain undiscovered. As a nature lover, outdoors enthusiast, and local resident, I can't wait to explore more of the valley and invite you join me in sharing the beauty of this spectacular region of California.

****For more information please contact me regarding my Santa Ynez Valley outdoors guidebook. - Justin Marshall