I'm about to describe my favorite way to ride SART. The result is an epic 25 mile ride that incorporates some of the most sick buttery singletrack the whole country has to offer. Seriously, we all know socal is a haven, and mile for mile this is probably socal's finest (after all we are talking about well over 30 miles of sugarsweet singletrack through all kinds of terrain taking you from almost 8000 ft. all the way down to Redlands). The trail has the same general flow the whole ride, smooth and silky. Of course there are alot of rocky sections, but no big rocks or downhill sections and the silkiness prevails. Anyways, the section I'm about to describe exposes you to some 18 miles of the upper section of this gem, with 7 miles of paved road/fire road climbing.
Park you car at the turnout just past Angelus Oaks, the one described on the trail profile page. Take in the scenery and look closely because in a couple minutes you'll be dipping into this, riproaring, rollercoastering, and harsh grinding, for the next few hours, and you won't have much chance to appreciate the sweet spot that this trail's located at. If you look closely you'll see a little sweet spot you'll be killing in about 5 minutes. When you're all geared up with your adventure pass in view lock em up and head back to the A.Oaks store. Ride to the back of the parking lot and continue straight back on a fireroad that briefly climbs to a little perch clearly marked SANTA ANA RIVER TRAIL, and another one This is Bear Country. I'm from Chicago so I love it. Get ready because the fun's about to begin and this first section could be the sweetest 3 miles stretch of trail you'll ever ride in your lifetime (this is also the stretch described on the trail profile page). Its not very technical but its so smooth and its so fast with some sections that are literally like a rollercoaster, and its such an awesome way to start the ride. I just hope the trail stays in the awesome shape its in right now so go easy around those switchies! You cling to the mountain wall and descend 1000 ft to a rocky waterfall section that serves as this section's low point. Look overboard into the canyon and you have to figure at least a half dozen bikes or so down there at any one point in time. Now I hope you ate your breakfast because you have some climbing to do.
Climb out to Middle Control Road and go left downhill for almost a mile until you come to another sign marked SART. From here you have some mellow gradual climbing for a couple miles, with a couple little downhill sections sprinkled in. This is the connector section that you'll be riding alot faster on the way back. After a couple stream crossings, the climbing gets a little more challenging as it gets a little steaper and you have some rocks to contend with. When you're charging through this just think of your favorite nfl running back and the pain that guy must go through. You finally pop out at Glass Road. Have a drink of water because the climbing continues, just head 3 miles up paved Glass Road to Highway 38. From here if you have 10 extra miles in you head up past Jenks Lake and mix in Secret Trail. For me though Secret Trail will have to wait for another day. I ride the 38 for about a mile to Barton Flats campground and lay out for a lunch break (oh yeah, visit the Country Store in Angelus Oaks to pack up on whatever you need for the ride, they cater). So far you've put together 13 miles of all kinds of fantastic riding, and you have 12 more mostly downhill miles left!
After lunching and regaining your composure, find campsite 10 and the trail marker. Climb out of the campground, up and over the ledge, and down down down on the section I consider to be the true essencse, the heart of SART. I hope lunch gave you some energy because this section is super fun and delivers a sustained rollicking SART experience in itself and it pays to have your wits about you so you can take it all in at full speeds. There are some little washboard-style rocky sections on this part though so be prepared for you and your machine to take some hits. Like I said though, the descent is sublime and it just keeps going through Glass Road back on the connector section. You'll note how much more fun it is going down this than it was going up. At some point you pass the 20 mile mark, and you still have another sustained climb that awaits at the end, so make sure you have enough water. This section is often underestimated (by myself at least). The fun continues and just when you think its never going to end it dumps you out at Middle Control Rd. The climb out itself isn't bad, but after 22 miles of serious exertion, its a pain. If you have a bum ankle or a bad knee you'll definitely be hearing from it on the way up. 3 miles up never ending Middle Control will take you right back to where you started. Now's a good time to take in that view again, and if you look close you'll see the section of the very first section you killed hours ago. You just earned your dinner my friend, enjoy!
Posted by RoundemUp a 33 year old Cross-Country Rider on 05/07/07