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. Sebastopol Food & Wine Roll

    One apple farm, three charming towns, multiple wineries, and infinite natural beauty. Savor a perfect autumn day in Sonoma County by biking the West County Regional Trail from Sebastopol to Forestville via Graton. It’s a 17-mile (round-trip) adventure. 

  2. Hiker taking a photo of sunset at Russian Ridge Open Space Preserve

    Sunshine and Skyline

    Head to Russian Ridge Open Space Preserve for a 4-mile out-and-back hike on the Bay Area Ridge Trail that offers a front-row seat to spectacular sunsets.

  3. Hike Los Trancos Open Space Preserve in the Santa Cruz Mountains

    Light of Los Trancos

    In autumn, Los Trancos Open Space Preserve lights up with orange-red maples, yellow hazelnut, and deciduous oaks, making this 2.5-mile hike in the Santa Cruz mountains a wonder-fall destination.

  4. Sponsored

    Center of Attention

    Central Oregon is home to the craft beer capital of the US, the Deschutes River, and trails for every kind of outdoor adventure: hiking, skiing, paddling, biking, and—of course—relaxing at fire pits.


Trending Stories SoCal

View all Stories
  1. Secret Stair Master!

    Step up to a wonderful 2-mile, nearly 1000-step workout in peaceful Pasadena that is part leg labor, part suburban stroll, and all serene secret.

  2. Hiker at Dos Picos County Park in San Diego County

    Dos Picos

    The 1.4-mile loop around Dos Picos County Park is a small yet mighty gem in northern San Diego County. It's gentle and packs a bunch of scenery.

  3. U-pick and Hike

    Some of the most delicious anywhere grow on trees high up in the San Bernardino Mountains in the town of Oak Glen, where Los Rios Rancho, So Cal’s largest historic apple ranch, grows 32 varieties, all completely organic, and available as u-picks.

  4. Hike to an epic vista in the San Gabriels via the Colby Trail in Glendora

    Do It for a Donut!

    Why bust your legs on this 2.25-mile hike in the San Gabriels? Two words: Donuts. Donuts. Okay, you’ll also get great views and a fine workout, but we guarantee that the treat alone merits the trek.