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blue Arroyo Burro Loop

  3.4 ( 7 )

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10.8 mile 17.4 kilometer loop


Ascent: 2,190' 667 m
Descent: -2,194' -669 m
High: 3,033' 925 m
Low: 1,007' 307 m


Avg Grade: 8% (4°)
Max Grade: 26% (15°)


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Trail shared by Kevin Fox

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Current trail conditions

All Clear 18 days ago See History
Dry - Some small mud patches from the springs but nothing unrideable.

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A nice Loop on the North Side of the Santa Ynez Mountains

Kevin Fox

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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.


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Mar 16, 2019
Ryan Ostrander
Two of my friends and I rode this loop last weekend, and all three of us were shocked by how great this ride is. I honestly prefer this over Jesusita 11mi
Mar 9, 2019
Seb Maag
Jun 24, 2018
Eddie Herrera
Nov 23, 2017
Ken Steele
a bit overgrown but still fun
Sep 4, 2016
Aaron Bright

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Trail Ratings

  3.4 from 7 votes


  3.4 from 7 votes
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in California


72 Views Last Month
3,413 Since Dec 18, 2013
Intermediate Intermediate

Bela Bauer
Santa Barbara
Bela Bauer   Santa Barbara
Be careful at the gun range at the top - I've seen people shoot towards the road and the trail, claiming they didn't know there was a trail. Also, this trail gets very little use - most people don't even know this side, but only the other side down towards Santa Barbara. Last time I hiked it, it was quite overgrown and there was lots of poison oak. Jan 7, 2014
Just to add a new comment here. I took the loop today and the single track was in pretty poor shape, lots of loose rocks and overgrowth with a couple of trees across trail and a few areas where the loose trail is washing out down the side of steep hills. Still fun but I had to take it very slow to avoid getting surprised. The climb is non technical but the single track downhill, I'd argue, is probably intermediate/difficult Sep 4, 2016
I'm surprised this loop isn't more popular, although that is part of its charm. I only see another person about 1 out of 4 times on this loop. I've only seen horse riders on the dirt road section and even there they are rare. There's an, "Arroyo Burro Road" sign on the gate on the right side of Paradise Road, about a quarter mile after the first crossing. The dirt road is relatively easy riding, but you still get a good workout and the views of Santa Ynez Canyon and the mountains are beautiful. You cross the Santa Ynez Riverbed at the beginning, but 70% of the time there's no water. There is a ridge between the road and the shooting area that extends past where the singletrack trail drops down on the right. The downhill singletrack is a lot of fun, most of it parallels a pretty little creek which always has some water in the upper part. The trees are much taller on this shady north side of the Santa Ynez. As the other reviewer noted, at the bottom you make a right, following the, "Designated Route" sign, then a left, downhill, where you reconnect with Arroyo Burro Road. Now, in 2018, the singletrack is in decent shape. Try it! Dec 31, 2018

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