Lovers Loop

Hike Lovers Loop in Los Olivos and Wine Taste in Santa Ynez Valley

Peaks, canyons, streams, meadows, trees—Lovers Loop in Los Olivos is the hike of your dreams in the Santa Ynez Valley. Explore it on this 4-mile (round-trip) journey along the Grass Mountain Trail, where beautiful vistas abound.

The hike begins by passing through a wooden hiker’s gate, heading north into the canyon framed by the ridges of Grass Mountain and towering Zaca Peak (4,305 feet). The path eventually meanders along babbling Alamo Pintado Creek—expect multiple rock-hopping stream-crossings, and you often have a choice of trail on either side (when in doubt stay close to the water).

The heavily shaded path eventually climbs out of the oak forest and up through sprawling meadows, switchbacking 750 feet along the sloping grassy hillside. The ever-growing expansive canyon views are a welcoming addition. Crossing over a ridge (at about 2,000 feet), you reach the pinnacle and are rewarded with an awe-inspiring panoramic vista of the Santa Ynez Valley. Find a boulder to perch on, give your legs a rest, and enjoy the scene before your descent. 

Also look for Figueroa Mountain to the east, at the edge of the Los Padres National Forest, the tallest peak in the immediate area. You can summit the mountain via a trail at the culmination of Figueroa Mountain Road. Eventually, you reach a signed junction amid a fairytale forest of oaks and other towering trees—both upper and lower Lovers Loop trails lead you back to your car (lower is slightly quicker, but requires a bit of a walk along the road). Loop Love!

PERFECT PAIRING: Pair your hike with a lovely reward at one of the many famous wineries in Los Olivos. For a vineyard experience, drive (or walk or bike) along the picturesque Zaca Station Road, home to resident favorites such as Firestone and Zaca Mesa wineries. For tons of tasting rooms in close proximity, head to the quaint downtown, where you’ll find a variety of tasty wines at local staples like Carhartt, or opt for an aptly named ale at Figueroa Mountain Brewery.

To get to the Lovers Loop trailhead, take the CA-154 to Figueroa Mountain Rd. and head north. After 7 miles, the road turns sharply right and deposits you at the dirt lot. Park at the dirt lot off of Figueroa Mountain Rd. and find the trailhead next to a sign marking the Midland School trails and a permit box. Grab a permit, fill it out, and put it on your car’s dash before starting the trek. Downtown Los Olivos (tasting rooms and brewery) is directly south of Figueroa Mountain Rd. (Grand Ave.). Zaca Station Rd. is just 3 miles west along the CA-154. Dog-friendly (varies by winery)!

Story and photos by Matt Pawlik

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