“A nice Loop on the North Side of the Santa Ynez Mountains”
— Kevin Fox
A nice loop with a fire road climb followed by a fast twisty singletrack in the woods.
Need to Know
An adventure pass is needed to park at the Lower Oso Picnic Area, but you can pay $10 on-site to park if you don't have the pass.
Arroyo Burro Road crosses the Santa Ynez River through the river bed. You'll need to cross the river twice, once on the way out and once on the way back down. If the river is running high you night want to consider a different ride.
This trail is used by horses from nearby Rancho Oso. With the short sight distances due to the more dense nature of the forest, bells are a necessity.
***This description is written with the perspective of someone who begins and ends their ride near the Santa Ynez River. Some people will park at the top of the trail, near the gun range on Camino Cielo, and start their ride with the descent. ***
The Arroyo Burro Loop starts where the Arroyo Burro Road heads south from Paradise road. Most people will park at the Lower Oso Picnic area and ride the half mile or so on Paradise. Due to recent fires there is no parking allowed at the Paradise Arroyo Burro Road intersection.
Drop down onto Arroyo Burro Road and cross the Santa Ynez River. During the winter and spring this will be a wet crossing. Bring a light pair of water shoes or prepare to have your feet wet for the duration of your ride.
Once across settle in for the climb. Arroyo Burro winds back and forth up the north side of the Santa Ynez Mountains for about 5.5 miles until it's junction with Camino Cielo. The road is well maintained and not particularly steep in any place. As it climbs you'll alternate from grassy meadows to oak and sycamore filled canyons. About 2.5 miles up from the river you'll see the junction with the Matias Potrero Trail
. The views get better as you climb with vistas out the Santa Ynez Valley for near 30 miles. Just before the junction with Camino Cielo the Arroyo burro trail heads steeply down and right off the road. The Beginning of the Arroyo Burro Trail
is not well marked. If you hit the gate at the top of the road you have gone too far.
Near the top of the road is a shooting range known as The Glass Factory. You may hear gunshots as you climb. Thankfully the direction of fire is away from the road!
Drop down the trail and begin your decent back to the valley floor. The trail winds downhill for just shy of three miles. Just before you reconnect with Arroyo Burro Road you'll come to the one junction on the trail. Make a right following the signs marking 'Designated Route'. Taking a left sends you down to Rancho Oso via a nasty trench of a horse trail.
Once back on the Arroyo Burro Road take a left and follow the dirt road back down and across the river retracing the path back to your car.
History & Background
The Arroyo Burro Trail
is a historic route that has been used for centuries by both Native people and Settlers to access the upper Santa Ynez Valley.