Matias Potrero -

Things to Know


Difficulty: Moderate to Difficult • Mileage: 1-5
Location: Lower Santa Ynez River
Features: Loop Trip, Backcountry Camp
User Type: Backpacking, Hiking, Equestrian Trail, Mountain Biking, Dog Walking, Trail Running


This trail leads across the north side of the Santa Ynez Mountains through open fields of grass and a series of ridges from Arroyo Burro Road to Gibraltar Dam. With the exception of the ups and downs caused by the ridgelines, surprisingly the trail is almost level, and high enough from the valley floor to provide scenic views of the canyon and the San Rafael Mountains. 

The Basics

  • Length : 1-6 miles depending on which trailhead you take.
  • Gain : 600’ from Live Oak picnic area to the start of the trail.
  • Difficulty : Moderately strenuous to strenuous depending on how far you go.
  • Path : Single track overgrown in places.
  • Season : All year.
  • Restrictions : Multi-Use; expect to encounter mountain bikes and equestrians.
  • Canine : Ok for dogs off leash.
  • Points of Interest : Loop Trip,Backcountry Camp

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Trail Facts

Difficulty: Moderate to Difficult
Points of Interests: Loop Trip, Backcountry Camp
User Types: Backpackers, Hikers, Equestrians, Mountain Bikers, Dog Walker, Trail Runners
Locations: Lower Santa Ynez River

Get Directions To The Trailhead

Driving Directions
Get Directions to Matias Potrero which is located at 34.530743, -119.725485.

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Access / Getting There

  1. Follow Highway 154 over San Marcos Pass to Paradise Road.
  2. Turn right on Paradise and follow it for 5 miles to the first Santa Ynez River crossing. You will need to have an Adventure Pass or purchase one there to park anywhere inside the Lower Santa Ynez Recreation Area.
  3. After crossing the river continue 3/4 mile past Lower Oso and look for the White Oaks turnoff, which cuts down and across the river.
  4. You will need to park here and then hike down and across the river to access the lower end of Arroyo Burro Jeep Road.
  5. Matias Potrero Trail is 2.8 miles up the road and is marked by a small sign located just beyond a large, open grass-covered saddle.
  6. Note: an alternate access point to the middle part of Matias Potrero Trail is located two miels further east and is marked by a locked gate just before Live Oak picnic area. 


Download Directions: Download PDF Map Directions

Get Directions To The Trailhead

Driving Directions
Get Directions to Matias Potrero which is located at 34.530743, -119.725485.

Use "Current Location" to start from your location or enter your city or zip to start from a new location.

Print Directions

Things to Know

Lots of ticks where the trail is grassy especially during the springtime. See the info on ticks 


Trip Log

On The Trail

Matias Potrero Trail was once a dirt road servicing power lines that were constructed in the 1960s. Now it is overgrown enough to have become a trail. It follows the Santa Ynez Fault along the lower north slope of the Santa Ynez Mountains. Bluish-green serpentine, upthrust along the fault, has created a soil which supports a swath of grassy slopes and potreros, making this a picturesque area. It also is a favorite area for ticks so check often for them, especially in the months from March to June. 

Access to the trail is from either Arroyo Burro Road or a spur trail which you will find three-fourths mile after Santa Ynez Camp and just before the river crossing leading to Live Oak picnic area. The Live Oak trailhead may be your best choice as you can hike either east or west along Matias Potrero Trail. Both directions provide beautiful hikes through grass meadows

 The mile hike up from the locked gate has a hundred yards of steep climbing immediately beyond the trailhead, but above this the gain is much more gradual. A small sign marks the beginning of Matias Potrero Trail.

For a short hike, the western section of the trail offers 2.5 miles of picturesque hiking across grass-covered slopes as it meanders across a series of canyons and ridges to Arroyo Burro Road. The hike is gradually uphill but nevertheless is fairly easy.

 Matias Potrero Camp, a small overnight camp, is just east of this intersection. A few yards beyond the intersection look for a trail split. The left fork drops down to the camp.  The main trail leads to the right,  skirting around the upper end of the camp, thus avoiding a drop and consequent climb back up. You can go through the camp but the trail is pretty steep on the other side of it. 

Two miles to the east is a second trail intersection. Matias Potrero proper heads up to Angostura Pass. The left fork leads down into Devil’s Canyon and in 1.5 miles reaches the base of Gibraltar Dam. From Live Oak, a long nearly 10 mile loop can be made by continuing back along the river to Red Rock and from there along the road back to the picnic area.


On The Bike

On The Run

On The Walk

Last Updated: Monday, July 27, 2015