Cycling the Arroyo Seco – Indians Road: 2019


Since we last rode the Arroyo Seco -Indians Rd., in 2012, increasing amounts of loose rock and sand have made the ride a bit trickier, but a road bike (in this case running 32mm tires) still works fine.


It’s nearly all rideable, but sometimes the risk of bashing the derailleur on a rock isn’t worth it.


This is the time to go, as the wildflowers are at their peak (all photos from April 28, 2019). This is yerba santa (Eriodictyon californium) blooming above one of the Arroyo Seco River’s most popular swimming holes. The swimming holes near the Arroyo Seco end of the road are very popular with locals from the Salinas Valley. The Indians, on the other hand, might as well be a Santa Cruz City Park (not that there’s anything wrong with that). We saw nine or ten other people on bikes.


The sight of the road switchbacking up the face of the mountain can be intimidating on a hot day, so it’s better to do this trip before things heat up too much. The total distance from Arroyo Seco to the Indians and back is only 34 miles, but the energy soaked up by riding through rock piles and sand pits makes it comparable to doing a century on pavement.


Chick Lupine (Lupinus microcarpus denisflorus)


Hummingbird Sage (Salvia spathacea)


Tufted poppies (Eschscholzia caespitosa)


Some spots are already starting to dry out.


There are stretches of the road where vigorously blooming pipestem clematis (Clematis lasiantha) seems to be draped over everything.


Bush poppies (Dendromecon rigida) are also a common sight.


A view up Santa Lucia Creek from a field of blooming yerba santa.


Deerweed (Acmispon glaber) has colonized the old roadbed and crowds the trail in many places.


Stream orchids (Epipactis gigantea) growing in profusion around a seep on an otherwise dry rocky slope.


Orchid close-up.


Lunch stop near Eagle Creek.


Sonoma sage (Salvia sonomensis) is blooming spectacularly in Hanging Valley and around Eagle Creek.


Jolon brodiaea (Brodiaea jolonensis) blooming at the Indians. Spring is definitely in the air at the Indians and when the narcotic scent of lupine and ceanothus, hanging heavy in the languid air of a warm afternoon, mixes with the sonorous droning of the bees, the result can be pretty intoxicating. We passed a couple in flagrante delicto on the side of the road only moments before two vans full of High School students came by, so I’m sure the field trip was memorable.


Riding through the Escondido oak groves on the return to Arroyo Seco.


The sun-baked climb out of Escondido.


Blue-eyed grass (Sisyrinchium bellum)


Scarlet Bugler (Penstemon centranthifolius)


Hanging Valley.

First two and final photos courtesy of Mark Chaffey


2 Responses to Cycling the Arroyo Seco – Indians Road: 2019

  1. Gayle Forster says:

    Once again a great article. Beautiful pictures of a lovely spot in paradise. Thanks for the journey.

  2. Giles Healey says:

    I love this ride, it has been a regular of mine for years. Bikes and backcountry go together.

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