Sierra Madre Mountains
|Sierra Madre Mountains|
The Sierra Madre Mountains from Cottonwood Canyon Road in Cuyama Valley
|Highest peak||Peak Mountain|
|Part of the||Transverse Ranges|
The Sierra Madre Mountains are a mountain range in northern Santa Barbara County in the U.S. state of California. They are part of the Los Angeles Ranges, which are themselves part of the North American Pacific Coast mountain ranges. The range sweeps from northwest to southeast and is about 40 kilometers long. Snow falls on the highest peaks during the winter months. Prominent peaks include MacPherson Peak (1752 metres) and its highest peak Peak Mountain (1783 metres). To the southeast, the range joins the San Rafael Mountains in a jumble of unnamed ranges, the highest point of which, Big Pine Mountain, at 2080 meters, is the highest point in Santa Barbara County.
The Sierra Madre Mountains lie almost entirely within the Los Padres National Forest and form the northern boundary of the San Rafael Wilderness. The southeasternmost point of the range is about 40 kilometers north of Santa Barbara and the northwestern terminus is about 90 kilometers north-northwest of the city.
The predominant vegetation in this mountain region is chaparral; oak woodlands exist in some areas and smaller conifer forests grow on some of the higher mountain flanks. The mountains are one of the most important habitats for the endangered California condor. The Sierra Madre Mountains rise directly south following the Cuyama Valley, which forms the northern edge of Santa Barbara County.
Geologically, the mountains consist almost entirely of sedimentary rocks from the Tertiary period. Most of it is Eocene ocean-formed sandstone, with an area to the east of the range consisting of early and middle Miocene sediments. The range is bounded on the south by the Nacimiento fault and on the north by the South Cuyama fault and the Ozena fault
The range is almost completely uninhabited, except for the lower foothills to the north, which is developed for oil and gas production in the South Cuyama oil field. A difficult single track dirt road follows the main ridge. It is often impassable after storms and can only be used by four-wheel drive cars and off-road motorcycles.