This loop links up a few shorter trails and part of one fire road to make one sweet loop. Nice views mixed with some fun singletrack make this a great intermediate ride.
The south side of the Santa Ynez River, near Rancho Oso (ranchooso.net/
) is heavily used by horses especially on weekends. Please ride in control and use a bell to alert horses to your presence.
This trail ride starts and ends at the lower Oso parking area. Find the bathroom and head south following the obvious trail into the river bed. Look for the path of least resistance, or least water, to get you across to the south side of the river. When the river is flowing you'll need to get your feet wet here. It is advisable to bring a light pair of sandals for the crossing. Alternatively you can take the paved Paradise Road for 0.7 miles to where Arroyo Burro road begins at a locked gate on the right.
Once across the river turn left heading east and follow the obvious worn trail. This trail meanders, and sometimes branches right or left. If you take the path that looks like it has seen the most traffic you should be in good shape. The trail is smooth with some sandy sections and a few cobbles in the way. After about a mile you'll encounter a short but steep uphill and be dumped in the lower end of the Rancho Oso Campground. Keep a low profile as you continue to head east and onto the Arroyo Burro Road.
Once you find the dirt road, make a right and begin heading uphill. The road is consistently uphill but never steep in this section. Wind your way up and enjoy the views of the valley and river below. In about 2.5 miles you'll see the sign for the Matias Potrero Trail
on the left.
The Matias Potrero trail begins just above 1800' on the Arroyo Burro Road. The trail heads east descending at first then slowly climbing as it winds through a series of "potreros" or meadows. At about one mile in you'll reach a high point marked by a large boulder on the left. Hang on for a great ride of twisting and occasionally rocky singletrack. Another short climb takes you to the junction with the Matias Potrero Connector
Trail. Turn left here to continue on this loop.
The Matias Potrero Connector
packs in the best mile yet. From the trail junction the trail heads down what was once an old road bed. Alternating between smooth twisty sections and jumbled rock gardens you're kept on your toes the whole way down. If you have the chance glance to the left into a cool little tight canyon. The fun ends too soon as you reach the paved Paradise Road.
Turn left on Paradise Road and spin for 3 miles back to your car parked back at Lower Oso. Alternatively, after the first river crossing, you can find the river trail on the left and take this back to where you began.