“It’s an under-used gem,” relates Stormy Knight as she describes Los Flores Ranch Park as a trail ride destination. Stormy is a Los Flores Ranch Park trails docent and helped organize and lead the last two moonlight rides at Los Flores Ranch Park in Santa Maria.
Moonlight Rides at Los Flores Ranch Park
“We had 51 riders on our July moonlight ride and 20 riders on the most recent moonlight ride in September,” Stormy reported. “Many riders have never ridden in the moonlight so offering a safe place with a group of people gives them a reason to join us. It’s really fun to do the ride together!” Stormy plans the ride timing for about a half an hour of riding in the moonlight. Watching the sun set is one of the highlights of a moonlight ride.
“I enjoyed seeing how happy everyone was,” described Stormy. “Even with a huge group we can ride, be safe and have fun together.” Stormy’s favorite memories of the ride involve watching people enjoy themselves, “A couple of ladies at the last ride were a little out of their comfort zone at the start of the ride, yet were elated and proud of themselves at the end of the ride. They were happy they did the ride and they experienced personal growth as horsewomen.” Headlamps are not used on the moonlight ride says Stormy, “We learn to trust our horses enough to ride in the moonlight.”
A moonlight ride is for intermediate to experienced equestrians and horses. Los Flores Ranch is looking at putting on more moonlight rides for the 2019 calendar. Dates to be determined. There is no cost to join a moonlight ride. You can keep up with the planned rides on the Los Flores Ranch Park Facebook page event calendar.
Los Flores Ranch Park Trails
Los Flores Ranch Park is a wonderful trail ride location. It is located just south of Santa Maria which is easily accessible for SLO County and Santa Barbara County riders. Trails are open to riders year-round Thursday – Sunday at varying hours except when weather impacts the trails. All trails are multi-use. First-time visitors are required to attend an orientation so they can learn how to ride with bikers and hikers. In addition, first-time riders will have some paperwork to fill out. Every rider must check-in at the Visitor Center and pay the minimal entrance fee which is currently set at $3.75/adult. Riders 15 and under are free. Riders will be told whether bikers or hikers are out on the trails so they can be prepared.
What Makes Los Flores Ranch Park Trails Special?
There are beginner-friendly ranch road trails and more technical single track trails for intermediate and above riders and horses. There are 12-15 miles of trails at Los Flores Ranch Park. “It’s really a great place for solitude, connecting with nature and your horse,” Stormy enthusiastically described what makes riding at Los Flores Ranch Park special. “The scenery is fantastic. You can see the ocean and along the coast.”
Los Flores Ranch Park Amenities
Amenities abound at Los Flores Ranch Park trails. Port-a-potties are interspersed throughout the trail system along with water coolers providing drinking water for riders. Horse water is at staging area. Stormy suggests riders plan to bring picnic food and use the picnic benches situated at the staging area.
Trees provide shade along the trails, but it can be hot in the summer. However, there is a coastal influence to the weather. Rains will close the single track trails, yet will bring the green grass which is so pretty in the spring. Always check on the Los Flores Ranch Facebook page for current conditions, seasonal hours and trail closures.
How to Get to Los Flores Ranch Park Trails
Access is easy off Hwy 101. The Equestrian staging area exit is 161 off the 101. Currently however, landfill construction is going on so the equestrian staging area for Los Flores Ranch Park is at the Equestrian designated gate off of Dominion Road in Santa Maria. Check out the Directions on this link.
Become a Docent and Ride the Trails for Free
Docents and their guests ride for free. A minimum of four hours a month is required for each docent. Visiting with guests, providing education, reporting trail hazards, assisting with riders, and maintaining trails are all a part of being a Los Flores Ranch Park horseback riding docent. Check out this link for more information.
Trail riders should put Los Flores Ranch Park on their trail ride checklist. It’s a great place to organize a group ride, ride with a few friends or even enjoy all on your own. Consider being a docent and enjoy being a part of a wonderful place.
Cover Photo credit: Colby Dixon