I’ve had the pleasure of exploring many places in the state of California, and in my humble opinion, the Santa Figueroa Mountain summit in Santa Barbara County, is second only in awe factor to Yosemite National Park. It is definitely one of my favorite places to hike, take photographs and explore.
Figueroa Mountain was named after José Figueroa, who served as governor of Alta, California from 1833 to 1835.
The mountain, as the area residents call it, simply Fig Mountain, is an enchanting mountain range that makes you feel as if the whole world has gone away. I bet you can relate to feeling like the busyness of life can steal your joy. I personally believe that time seems to slow down on the mountain. It will relax you and the colors are so magnificent that it is overwhelming.
Fig Mountain is located in the Los Padres National Forest, about 30 minutes from Los Olivos.
In the spring, the natural beauty of this majestic mountain range is magnified with bright shades of green with huge expanses of orange that rise up covering the some of the mountain tops. At higher elevations the view hundreds of feet down the mountain covered in an orange slide of flowers or bright yellow mustard plants is a sight that everyone should get to see at least once.
The brilliant colors come from green grass, beautiful oak and pine trees, and wildflowers in full bloom. The spectacular display of orange is our California State flower, the Poppy. These Poppies range from yellow to deep, fiery orange. The stems have blue-green foliage with four delicate petals that bloom February through September. Poppies are fragile and its interesting that they close at night and stay closed in windy or cloudy weather and then open in the sunlight.
My daughter had several reptiles as pets as she was growing up and the colors of the springtime mountains reminded me of Simba, her female chameleon.
Figueroa Mountain recreation area is the perfect place to stop and take pictures. The panoramic views of the of San Rafael Wilderness and the Santa Ynez Valley are truly breathtaking.
The clash of colors from the bright bluish-purple Lupine and yellow Poppies against the deep green, grassy slopes are magnificent. Numerous other wildflowers such as Dichelostemma Capitatum, which is the scientific name for Blue Dicks (I know…. stop laughing), Goldfields, Sky Lupine, Shooting Stars and Chocolate Lilies bloom between March and September. I have visited this amazing wilderness area at different times of year and let me tell you … the color of the landscape is ever changing.
There were a few little cabins and houses along the way and I couldn’t even imagine a different type of lifestyle - though I tried - what it would be like to live in the midst of beauty, calm and solitude.
If you go up the mountain, be careful. It is a two-lane, and sometimes smaller, winding road and the scenery requires a lot of discipline to not look around. I found out the hard way, that the weather can rise or drop 30 degrees in just a few hours. So be sure to wear lots of layers of clothing, hiking boots and take lots of water and snacks. There is no better place on earth to bring a picnic lunch, sit under an oak tree, and who knows…if you’re with someone you love, you might even notice all of that Mistletoe above you in the oak trees, right?
At the end of the Figueroa Mountain journey, I highly recommend a stop in the charming little town of Los Olivos for glass of wine on the patio at Carhartt Vineyard Tasting Room or try the Sparkling Vermintino at Tessa Marie’s Wine tasting Room at 2901 Grand Ave, in Los Olivos. Be sure to make a toast to the magnificent Central Coast.
NOTE: Donna Polizzi is a regional travel writer and founder of Keys 2 The Coast. Keys 2 The Coast is a travel resource for Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo and Monterey Counties, offering recommendations on the best places wine, dine, and explore and More. Visit Keys2theCoast.Com.