This is a delightful trail that leads down into a narrow canyon and because it isn’t traveled too often, is a nice hike for those who want a bit of solitude. From the saddle you can also walk down the Arroyo Burro Road. You can also explore a little of the front side of the mountains. The trail actually goes all the way down into San Roque Canyon, though private property keeps you from access to the bottom portion.
Depending on how far down the trail you go the hike ranges from being easy to strenuous. At the bottom the trail ends on the lower part of Arroyo Burro Road at the edge of Rancho Oso (now a motor home park), approximately .8 miles from the Santa Ynez River. A loop can be made by following the dirt road back uphill to your car, a distance of about 3 miles.
Once you are on the trail, the route follows the east side of a long ridge for a quarter mile the crosses over the ridge to the west side and begins to drop down into the canyon below. After several miles the rest of the hike is in the canyon or on the hillsides overlooking the canyon. As you near the lower part of the hike the trail splits, with the left fork leading through more open oak and grass country and the right fork crossing the creek and re-joining the Arroyo Burro jeep road in a quarter mile.
If you are planning on walking all the way to the river the best choice is the right fork and then down the jeep road. To make this a loop hike (or trail run) you can also head back up the jeep road to your car, a 3 mile and 1,600 foot elevation gain.
Arroyo Burro Frontside
If you’d like to sample a little of what the Arroyo Burro Trail was once like on the coastal side, the trail is still in passable shape and you can go a distance down it. The trailhead is opposite the Arroyo Burro Road intersection. Park on the right side of Camino Cielo and wander toward the ocean where you’ll find the trail. The trail itself drops quite a bit in elevation and should you get dropped off and want to hike down to the Jesusita trailhead, the trail is open enough to do so but you will have to cross private property to do so.
As you reach the bottom of the canyon you'll past by the ranch's wellsite. Just below the trail opens up into an old, jeepway in rleatively poor condition after the Jesusita Fire. Continue down the road a quarter mile and look carefully for the point where the trail begins again. It is on the left side of the dirt road and cuts back to the left. The fire heavily damaged the hillside where the lower trail begins, making it even more difficult to spot. Note that brush may be blocking part so the trail on the lower part, making the hike much more difficult that it ordinarily would be.
Once you spot the lower trail, it cuts back up to the left and then turns to the right and begins to traverse across the hillisde for a half mile to the point where it begins to switch back and forth down the ridge that leads to the powerlines. From this point on you are on the front side Arroyo Burro Trail.