This hike is a challenge. It's one of the rare front country hikes that
has uphill both on the way up and on the way back, and all of it is steep.
It's a long hike, too. 12 miles.
You will have to hike part of the way on paved and dirt roads and through private easements that are constantly in flux.
The Arroyo Burro Trail is a historic trail. In the days before automobile travel trails the only way over the impenetrable mountain barrier between the coast and the interior. Arroyo Burro supplied a route for miners and other trade. The trail continues over the other side of the mountains to the Santa Ynez River. This other half of the trail is shady and very lovely, but not described here.
The hike is 12 strenuous miles round trip with an approximate 4000ft elevation gain. The gratuitous 500ft. drop you do in the middle of the ascent adds that extra 1000ft.
Please add a brief update about trail conditions. All comments are moderated and will not display until approved, which can take days if I'm away on the trail.
Hiked Arroyo Burro yesterday from the water filtration plant. The trail past the sandstone out-croppings is a bit overgrown in places, particularly once you drop into the canyon bottom, but the tread is easy enough to follow. Water tanks at the spring are still full. Someone has done some brush-clearing work along the final stretch before Camino Cielo so that section is open and really nice. Thanks trail work Gods. 8)
Posted by: Uncle Rico
I hiked this trail Sept 4 from Steven's park. My experience was similar to the previous report. Only difference is that I am not sure where the spring is located, but the two water collection tanks were full and water was slowly entering them still. This is a challenging hike due to the lack of switchbacks climbing the hill. But I love the canyon section, one of my favorite, perhaps my very favorite, part of the front country.
On the way back down I saw 5 do not trespass signs, which I thought was odd. None of these signs are visible on the way up, unless you stop and look behind you. Is the land owner only trying to keep people from coming down the trail?
Posted by: sbslider
I hiked this trail this past Sunday with a friend. Update on trail conditions: the trail is actually very easy to follow the whole way up to Camino Cielo, but there's a stretch in the middle that's kind of overgrown; we just had to shove our bodies through the encroaching chaparral. Nevertheless, there's a well-defined tread to follow.
The creek was dry, but the spring partway up was flowing and the water tanks collecting water from it were full. And it was really hot: the shady creekbed was a welcome relief.
Posted by: Sebastian
I hiked this trail on Thurs 5/17/13. Took a bit over 6 hours, including some unplanned detours.
Like others have said, the first part of the trail is pretty straightforward and easy to follow, but after you get past the main resting point (the big boulder with people's names carved in it) and make your way across the mountain beyond it, the trail becomes overgrown and hard to follow. Once on the way there and twice on the way back I lost the trail and ended up fighting through random plants trying to find my way back. Luckily I had my smartphone which has a map and GPS (and the Arroyo Burro trail is actually fully shown and labelled on Google Maps), otherwise it would have taken me a lot longer to find the trail again.
Bring at least 2 liters of water and a few Cliff bars or other snacks. I used up all of my 1.5L water bottle (and both energy bars) just before I got back to my car, but it wasn't even hot that day.
Posted by: FredAkbar
Hiked this trail on 3/15 13. Very overgrown and quite a few trees across the trail between the giant rock and the first creek crossing. The upper section is a little overgrown but very managable.
Posted by: RM
Hiked the front half of the trail yesterday starting from the filtration plant up to the shooting range on East Camino Cielo. The day started off at 7:00 AM and cold (37F), but quickly warmed up after I got a little elevation and out of the canopy of the Live Oaks at the bottom of the canyon. I stuffed my hat and sweat shirt into my pack and started up the ranch/Edison easment road to the (real) trail. Being this was my first time hiking the Arroyo Burro trail, I didn't know exactly what I was getting into. The trail is very over grown and at times difficult to find and it didn't take long for me to be thankful that it was a cold morning, as I was wearing long pants instead of my usual hiking shorts, as my legs would have been torn up from bush whacking the brush for the next few hours. As difficult as it was getting through some stretches of the trail, I did get to my turnaround point for the day at Camino Cielo and the virtual trash dump most call the shooting range just on the other side of the road. I took a couple of minute rest there, watched several people shoot their guns while drinking beer at 11:00AM and just shook my head at what I was seeing, turned around and headed back down the trail. Got back to the car right at 1:00, even with losing the trail several times. I did get in a good workout however, even with the trails' condition not allowing a steady pace on any part of the hike, up or down the hill.
Next hike: Romero Trail to Blue Canyon Trail to upper Cold Springs Trail to Gibraltar Trail to Gibraltar Dam and back. :D
Posted by: Boats