The dirt road from Angostura Pass leading down to Gibraltar Dam provides a nice hike with expansive views of the backcountry. For those who want a long day hike, Matias Potrero and Devil’s Canyon will take you to the river and the road will take you back up. Or, with a shuttle, you can follow Matias Potrero all the way to Live Oak picnic area or take the Devil’s Canyon cutoff to visit Gibraltar Reservoir and then hike down the river to Red Rock.
Points of Interests: Viewpoint • Sunset • Canyons • Creeks • Swimming Holes • Loop Trip • Out & Back
User Types: Backpackers • Hikers • Equestrians • Mountain Bikers • Dog Walker • Trail Runners • Rock Climbers
Locations: Santa Ynez Mountains
While the dirt road’s primary purpose is for servicing Gibraltar Reservoir, because it is locked and thus not open to the public, it provides an open and easily traveled path for those who would like to enjoy the beauty of the backcountry without the rigors which accompany it. For those who would like a strenuous hike, Matias Potrero and Devil’s Canyon will suit your tastes as well.
Initially, the road, which is smooth and well graded, winds gently downhill through the Pass then begins to cut across the back side of the Santa Ynez Mountains, in the process opening to expansive views of Little Pine and Big Pine Mountains. The hike is leisurely and you can make it as long as you want. Two miles down this road from Angostura Pass, Matias Potrero Trail leads steeply down and to the left. As it isn’t marked with a sign you need to look for it carefully. This trail cuts across the north side of the Santa Ynez Mountains for 6 miles, eventually intersecting with Arroyo Burro Road. Along the way two connector trails lead down to the Santa Ynez River, one in Devil’s Canyon and the other near Live Oak Picnic Area.
For a full day’s adventure you might consider leaving a shuttle car at Live Oak or Red Rock, eventually dropping down to the Santa Ynez River via one of these connectors. A dip in the large pool at Live Oak, followed by a BBQ could provide the perfect touch following this hike.
Devil’s Canyon, which intersects with the Matias Potrero Trail 1.5 miles down the dirt road, leads to the Santa Ynez River near the base of Gibraltar Dam. To make this a loop trip, turn right at the intersection and continue 1.5 miles across the grassy slopes and through the picturesque narrows of Devil’s Canyon to the dam, then follow the dirt road back up to Angostura Pass, an 11 mile hike in total. Or continue down the river trail to one of the many swimming holes and eventually Red Rock, if you have a shuttle awaiting you.
Though not often used as an access point for a backpacking trip, with someone to pick you up the following day, the hike down to the Matias Potrero Campsite is a nice one either to spend the night or get picked up later that day. The hike involves following the road down to the Matias trail then continuing down it past the turn to Devil's Canyon and following the lower Matias Potrero Trail as it traverses the north side of the Santa Ynez Mountains in a westerly direction. The views are fantastic, the walking mostly downhill and the campside is located in a secluded spot beneath a canopy of oaks a half mile above the Santa Ynez River.