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Munch Canyon

A Combination of Opposites:Canyon Beauty and Rugged Chaparral


Sunday, May 4, 2008

RIDE INFORMATION

Distance - 1.5 miles to the Munch Connector; .4 miles from Fir Canyon to top of connector; 2 miles down the trail to Sunset Valley Road; 3.1 miles on Sunset Valley to Cachuma Peak; 3 miles to Ranger Peak; 2 miles from Ranger Peak back to your car

Elevation - 500’ loss to the to Munch Spur; 300’ gain from Fir Canyon to top of saddle; 1,150’ loss down the Munch Trail to Sunset Valley; 650’ gain up Sunset Valley to Cachuma Saddle; 1,350’ gain to Ranger Peak

Trail Conditions - Munch Trail is overgrown in places.

Difficulty - Strenuous with some Level 2 and 3 single track. There is extreme exposure in Fir Canyon. Ride with caution.

Topo - Figueroa Mountain

HIGHLIGHTS

This ride combines the beauty of Fir Canyon with the rugged chaparral of Munch Canyon, a combination of opposites that is the trademark of the back country. Munch Canyon ends at Sunset Valley where you can have a shuttle waiting for you or you can turn right on the paved road and ride back to your car. An alternative is to begin at Cachuma Saddle and get the steep riding up to Ranger Saddle out of the way first. To avoid the technical single track in Fir Canyon you can start at East Pinery and drop down it to the Munch Canyon Trail.

DIRECTIONS

From Mattei’s Tavern in Los Olivos, take Figueroa Mountain Road 15.0 miles to the start of the Davy Brown Trail. It is a mile beyond Figueroa Mountain Campground.

THE RIDE

The first 1.5 miles of this ride take you down Fir Canyon, a narrow gorge cut through Monterey Shale and filled with spruce, oaks, and maples. The single track is excellent though you may want to walk some of it. When you reach the memorial to Edgar Davison, a bronze plaque set in a large serpentine boulder, look for the Munch Spur Trail on the right side of the creek.

The trail is steep for the first hundred yards. You will have to push up this part, but after that the trail can be ridden. It is slightly more than a half mile to the main Munch Canyon Trail.

The Munch spur trail ends at an open saddle where the main Munch Canyon Trail begins. This trail is fairly technical and overgrown in parts, but if you like single tracking, the route provides you with another way to enjoy an afternoon on the mountain. The first mile of the ride is down through the canyon. The trail is rocky and you may want to walk some sections. The last half leaves the canyon, turning to the left and crossing through the chaparral to intersect with the mining road. It is a half mile down to the Sunset Valley Road.

You can either turn left and drop down to the Figueroa Jeepway, taking this back to your car or turn right on Sunset Valley Road and loop back on pavement. The climb is steady, 3.1 miles to Cachuma Saddle and then an even steeper 3.3 miles up to Ranger Saddle. Though a hard ride, it is beautiful in the later part of the day as the sun nears the horizon and hillsides glow in the light. From the saddle it is 2 miles of downhill back to the upper Davy Brown trailhead.

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