Treadmill Rating (out of 10):
Distance: Several trails, total about 11-12 miles
Max Elevation: About 1,500 feet
I spent most of October 25, 2009 exploring this park just south of Santa Maria, California. It was a hot day, but prior rains had turned the hills a bright green giving the whole area the appearance of Ireland. I’ve been to Ireland, and I can tell you that there were times on the trails of Los Flores Ranch where I could not tell the difference. It was beautiful!
Take the Clark Exit south of Santa Maria and head east to Dominion Road. Make a right on Dominion and head south about 2 miles. Clearly marked entrance on the right. Park and walk through the entry gate and up the road to the visitor’s center where you MUST check in, watch a video and receive an i.d. card. There is no charge presently.
HOW TECHNICAL IS THE HIKE?
The trails are actually existing roadways created for oil and ranch operations. The trails vary in condition from asphalt to dirt roads. I did not encounter much in the way of severe inclines, most were “trails” were winding roads at a reasonable grade. I encountered male and female hikers of different ages, including seniors, along the way and so I would rate this as completly non-technical.
There are water stations and porta-potties throughout the park.
WHO CAN DO THIS HIKE?
I rate this hike a 4 out of 9 on the treadmill scale because there are so many trails to choose from. There are some easy flat trails and some long trails that have a steep incline. Follow this link for a map: http://www.ci.santa-maria.ca.us/3083-LosFloresRanchTrailMap.pdf
So, the short answer is: There is something for everyone here. The level of conditioning you are in will dictate which trail you take. You should check with the ranger/docent at the visitor center first, before heading out on any trail. They will suggest the best trail for you. You can also call the visitor center at 805-938-7618 before visiting the park.
WHEN SHOULD I GO?
I hiked this trail in October and found it breathtakingly pretty. The rains had turned the hills a vibrant emerald. I saw lots of cows and birds enjoying the green grasses. I feel the best time to go would be the months of October through April, while the hills are green. In the summer the grasses will die off to brown and the heat will make this hike difficult in mid-day summer sun. There was little shade on the trails.
This is a day hike on medium inclined trails that are a mixture of pavement and dirt. You are basically walking old oil drilling roads. Walking uphill would be the best training. You will not be carrying an overnight pack, just water, so if you have been doing some physical activity and are in fairly good shape, you should be fine. Again, check with the ranger/docent at the visitor center prior to going out on any trails just to make sure.