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

Trending Stories NorCal

View all Stories
  1. Ridgetop Rolling

    Tilden Regional Park is the flagship of the East Bay Regional Parks system. And its best views? Find them along Nimitz Way, a paved, multi-use ridgetop trail. We recommend biking this trail for about 4 miles.

  2. Wide-Open Wildcat

    Sure, peak-bagging hikes are great, but ridge trails? Well, those might be the best. The East Bay’s Wildcat Canyon Regional Park is home to a fantastic ridgetop rolling trail.

  3. Bird Rock

    Other than the Birdman of Alcatraz, Robert Stroud, birds aren’t typically the first thing you think of with Alcatraz. When it was a working prison there wasn’t much bird life. But now? Well, the birds are back!

  4. Forest Bathe Under the Redwoods

    Giant Douglas firs and a peaceful madrone- and tanoak-studded forest make the hiking at Sanborn County Park sublime, but there’s an added majesty here thanks to the Todd Creek Redwoods Grove.


Trending Stories SoCal

View all Stories
  1. Sponsored

    Monterey Bay Aquarium Reopens!

    The wildlife has been waiting patiently … and now, at long last, they’re ready for their close-ups! As California reopens make new memories at the reopened Monterey Bay Aquarium!

  2. Beach Walk + Cambodia Town

    A trip to Long Beach is not complete without a … long walk on the beach. But add a little extra with a walk through Cambodia Town, featuring local murals and delicious food.

  3. Hodges and Hodgee Monster

    Escondido’s Lake Hodges is one of the most beautiful lake settings in San Diego, with Kumeyaay history, phenomenal birdwatching, a world-record-holding bridge, and a resident lake monster!  Do a 5.5-mile shoreline hike here ...  

  4. Go For Guajome

    Head to Guajome County Park in Oceanside for a hidden lake twofer hike via a 4-mile loop trail traversing most of the 394-acre haven.