“This is an undiscovered gem!” exclaimed Gail while out trail riding Los Flores Ranch for the first time. 360-degree vista views, oak-studded hillsides, wildflowers, wildlife and a wonderful cooling ocean breeze at the top of the ridge encapsulate Los Flores Ranch, a wondrous trail riding experience.
Come ride along with me! Get your riding the SLO County Trails Hotsheet to get started and join the SLO Horse News Herd!
Many hours and care have gone into developing the multi-use trail network of the 1,778 acre Los Flores Ranch. Park staff plus a core of volunteers create and maintain the trails. The trail network has expanded over the years and now encompasses over 14 miles of inter-connecting trails and loops just waiting to be explored. New trail connections are being worked on frequently.
Los Flores Ranch Trail Network
Los Flores Ranch Park is located off the 101 freeway just south of Santa Maria. This makes it easily accessible to south county San Luis Obispo residents and northern Santa Barbara county residents.
First-time visitors are required to register and attend an orientation so they can learn how to ride with bikers and hikers. 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.
Trails are open Thursday – Sunday with hours varying with the season. For the most up-to-date info see the Los Flores Ranch Facebook page or call the office (805) 938-7618.
Driving Directions for Equestrian use:
Access is easy off Hwy 101. The Equestrian staging area exit is 161 off the 101. Currently however, landfill construction has blocked this staging area so now the equestrian staging area for Los Flores Ranch is at the Equestrian designated gate off of Dominion Road in Santa Maria. Check out the Directions on this link. Please contact the park for the most up-to-date equestrian staging information (805) 938-7618 .
Trail Riding Los Flores Ranch – Exploring Options
The entire trail network, traversing across 1,778 open-space acres, is available to equestrians, mountain bikers and hikers. The park is managed by enthusiastic and friendly staff who are on-site to help you have a beautiful day. You will meet the staff at the Visitor Center, or perhaps out on the trail.
The first stop on your ride will be the visitor center, which is over the hill via Manzanita trail from the current equestrian staging area. All equestrians must sign in at the visitor center, pay the daily fee ($3.75) and get updated trail info.
When the purposed equestrian staging area near the corral opens up a staff person can come over in their ranger and meet you at the corral to sign waivers and take payments. There will be a phone number to call.
Now you are free to explore any trail. Keep your bearings as to where the visitor center is, the location of the 101 and the staging area. You really can’t get lost as the trails loop back and are clearly marked. The visitor center has paper maps for you to take along on your ride.
If you are planning a group ride of seven horses or more it is recommended that you contact Los Flores Ranch (805) 938-7618 a head of time for recommendations and info for your ride.
Amenities for Trail Riders and Others
There are port-a-potty toilets at the equestrian staging area, picnic tables and water troughs. Interspersed throughout Los Flores Ranch Park are more port-a-potty toilets, picnic tables and water troughs. The map shows [RA] for these rest areas and [W] for water troughs. Keep in mind that the water for the troughs must be trucked in . . . so they might be empty.
Oak trees provide some shade along the trails, but it can be hot out here in the summer. However, there is a coastal influence to the weather with a nice breeze coming up over the ridge. 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.
Other Fun Activities at Los Flores Ranch Park
Exploring the trails is not the only thing one can do at Los Flores Ranch Park. There are a variety of other seasonal activities scheduled throughout the year. Activities like star gazing, archery adventures, geocaching, night hikes and twilight guided trail rides.
A Twilight Guided Horseback Ride is designed specifically for equestrians with their own horses. This is a great way to meet new trail riding friends, join in on the fun of riding at twilight while exploring the trails. This is a docent-led ride and is scheduled about twice a year. Find the dates through the Los Flores Ranch Facebook page under Events.
Go enjoy this wondrous outdoor environment via horseback. You will soon discover that Los Flores Ranch is truly an undiscovered gem and you’ll find yourself returning with or without your horse again and again.
Notes for a Perfect Day Trail Riding Los Flores Ranch
- The park is open Thursday – Sunday with seasonal hours.
- Double check where the equestrian staging area is located by calling the visitors office (805) 938-7618.
- Check in with the visitor office to pay the daily fee (if applicable)
- First-time visitors need to register.
- Pack your own drinking water.
- Plan a picnic lunch while out on the trails.
- Pack out all trash.
- No smoking.
- Dogs are allowed on leash only.
Photo credit: Sharon Jantzen Photos
Get going! Looking for trails to ride in SLO County? This hotsheet will get you going on a few of the top rides. Get this delivered to your e-mail and join the SLO Horse News herd to stay up-to-date on herd happenings. Click here > SLO County Trails Hot Sheet to get going!