- Thursday, September 28, 2023
Southern California Trails
Black Mountain - #BlackMountain
Socal - San Diego County - Ramona NickNames: #BlackMountain
Don't confuse this with the Black Mountain in Rancho Penasquitos. This one is much more 'mountainly' at over 4,000 feet.
To get there, take I-15 to Scripps-Poway Parkway and go east to Highway 67, then north on Hwy. 67 (past Iron Mountain trailhead) into Ramona. Keep going straight through Ramona and when you get downtown, turn left on 7th St. On 7th, bear right. 7th turns into Elm St. Then turn right on Haverford at the 'T' intersection. Haverford quickly becomes Pamo Rd. Follow Pamo Road down into the serene valley. You're in Cleveland National Forest now (so you'll need your Adventure Pass to park.) The pavement will end. You'll cross a cement bridge (with no railing!) over a creek, then a cattle crossing about 1.5 miles later. Just after the cattle crossing is the trailhead on your right. Just park to the side of the dirt road you're on, next to the barbed wire fence.
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- Trail UpdateSanta Ysabel Truck Trail-As of August 1, 2008, this trail was in pretty bad shape. Major slides (from last years rain and fires) have cut large chucks out of the fire road, and there are too many deep sandy patches to make it enjoyable. Hopefully by the winter it will be better...
Seaclasper a 987 year old Cross-Country Rider riding a Onnomotopoiea from Corkscrew, IL
- Trail UpdateBlack Mountain Road-Apparently I'm the only one who ever rides this area, or at least posts on it. I have only very rarely seen bikers at Black Mountain, although you do get an occasional motorized vehicle...
This time I drove Black Mountain Rd from Ramona all the way down to where it meets up with the Santa Ysabel Creek, and parked the car there at the bridge (don't forget the Adventure Pass!). I biked uphill on Black Mountain Rd from there, and had another surprisingly nice ride! This is quite likely the easiest 'mountain' biking I've done in SD County yet, and would be a great place to take a beginner. Basically very hard-packed dirt road at a gentle grade, that winds it's way up the canyon. At this time of year, you never get far from the sound of roaring water as it cascades through the valley below the road bed. You will pass through an Indian reservation about 1/3 of the way up, then some nice waterfalls about 2/3 of the way up, and finally go through a stretch of beautiful farmland near the upper end. After about 6 miles, you hook up with the 76, and you can do a little road riding up there if you feel like it before riding back down Black Mtn Rd the way you came. On this day I saw a flock of wild turkeys, a great deal of predatory birds, a coyote, a small rattler, and a bull blocking the road that made me extremely nervous!
I highly recommend this little jaunt for one of those days you just want a relaxing ride with some nice scenery, or you want to introduce a friend to the sport. One thing: don't take Black Mtn Rd in like I did, it's pretty sketchy in some places with a serious drop on one side! Take Sutherland Dam Rd instead - it ends up being the same approximate mileage but is much easier on your car, and a lot safer!
Ride rating: Beginner
Ride distance: 12 miles Elevation change: 1000?
Dirt Road=80% Paved Path=20%
seaclasper a 35 year old Cross-Country Rider
- Trail UpdateSanta Ysabel Truck Trail-Starting at Pamo Rd and going up, you can take a right at the first major fork rather than heading up to the top of Black Mountain. I did this today for a goof and really was pleasantly surprised to find myself way up on a beautiful fire road (the Santa Ysabel TT) overlooking the gorge below with it's rain-flooded river. After a few (5?) miles the trail actually meets up with the river, which today was easily crossable, but would be dangerous right after a rain. Immediately following this is the junction with Black Mountain Rd. This little jaunt back and forth took me a couple of hours, and contains very little in the way of technical terrain or steep inclines.
This whole area is not listed in the San Diego Mountain Biking Guide that everyone uses, but is a real gem of a spot. Go now while the temperatures are perfect! Also, the road is closed to motorized traffic due to major ruts from all the rain; is it so peaceful without those damn motorcyclists! These ruts are only at the very beginning of the trail, and even so shouldn't pose a problem to cyclists, who can easily avoid the three-foot deep chasms...
If anyone knows of a good guide for this region, I'd like to hear about it. I think I'll just go pick up a good topo map...
Ride rating: Novice
Ride distance: 12 miles Elevation change: 1000
Paved Path=1% Truck Trail=199%
The Seaclasper a 35 year old Cross-Country Rider riding a Post-catalytic Egg-beater from Lumbago
- Trail UpdateBlack Mountain - Ramona-While I was climbing this thing, I kept thinking that the 'other' Black Mountain in Rancho Bernardo should be re-named 'Black Hill', 'cuz this one is a lot bigger!
First time riding this trail, and it took me about 2.5 hours to climb to the top. It's all wide fireroad with (for the most part) a very reasonable grade. Frankly, there aren't that many views on the ways up, and the trail itself is just a long grind. Great workout, though, and the view from the top is SO worth the effort. Its so clear up there today you can see mosquitos on Catalina Island! Plus, the valley below is real purty...
Ther are a few other trails around the area that would be worth checking out as well. Black Mountain is open to motorized vehicles, so be careful, esp. on the way down. I saw three today, not bad for a Saturday. All in all, absolutely worth a visit!
Ride distance: 15 miles Elevation change: 3000 ft
Singletrack=1% Truck Trail=99%
The Seaclasper a 34 year old Cross-Country Rider riding a Sausage McMuffin with Egg from Sandy Eggo
- Trail UpdateOld Black Mountain Memories-I grew up in Ramona in the 80s and early 90s. My dad and I began by road biking on country roads in Ramona and eventually bought mtn bikes and started exploring the Cleveland National Forest. By 1992 our regular 3 to 5 rides a week consisted of round trips to the Ramona Airport, Orosco Ridge, Black Canyon, Pamo Valley, Mesa Gande and Santa Ysabel Creek.
One day we were looking over the USGS topo map of the area and decided that the elevation lines around the Black Mountain trail couldn't be that bad even if they were close together. We left early in the morning on a partly cloudy day. It was a slow but steady grind in middle chainring up until the last mile when things got dicey. At the top we found ourselves robbed of the view by a cloud. That was a bummer. The downhill that followed was not the adrenaline rush I was hoping for. At the time I was riding a hardtail Trek 7000 aluminum with a Rock Shox Quadra elastomer fork and the old school short arm cantilever brakes with glazed, worn pads. Purely a lax cross country setup.
I bumped and slid and jolted my way down the first loose section of the mtn. We had to stop a few times because our hands actually cramped up from the breaking. When the road conditions improved we managed to lay off the brakes and made some good time getting back to the valley.
We continuted to ride in the Cleveland Nat Forest until I moved away to college but we never did make it back up Black Mtn. Though we did look at the trail every time we took the right fork towards Black Canyon.
My dad and I rode the CNF at least weekly for 5 years. We only saw other mtn bikers 3 times.
Ride rating: Intermediate
Jered a 30 year old Cross-Country Rider riding a Gary Fisher Hoo Koo E Koo from Point Loma, CA
- Trail UpdateBlack Mountain Memories-As I was reading the updates on this trail I could not resist posting this story. About 3 years ago, my wife and I were newbies and finally got some decent mountain bikes and I planned on taking us on a scenic ride to the top of a mountain in the wilderness on our new bikes. It was August. I found a link that described this ride as intermediate and said let's do it. We went. The climb to the top was good. We were getting tired at the end though due to our inexperience. We also were running out of water. By the time we got to the tower at the top, it was 110 degrees on my cateye cyclocomputer. I did not tell my wife this. We dug the view, took pictures, finished the last of our water and decended. I had a flat, discovered I lost my tube, which was in a seat pack. My wife by then was dehydrated. I had a patch kit and a pump. I gave her the keys to the car and said, go down, I'll meet you at the car, there's water in the trunk. I began patching my tube in the riduculous heat. Just at the end of the process, my wife hiked up the trial to where I was, tossed me the tube I'd dropped; she saw it on the way down and came back to me because I needed it; what a doll. She went back down. I put the new tube in. I had 2 more flats on the descent. Thank god for patches. Woo hoo. I was dying by the time I got back to the car. My wife had consumed the water jug in the trunk and was more or less back to normal. We were stupid and kind of lucky. This place gets hot in the summer. Bring lots of water. I learned a lot from the experience. It really is a nice workout ride. Winter is probably the best time to ride. My wife still rides, imagine that!
MIke Kim from Carlsbad
- Trail UpdateRamona Black Mountain Trail-I rode this trail a year or so ago and it is definitely a workout ride. No drops or jumps or singletrack. Just 7 miles of CLIMBING that ends at the fire lookout structure thingy at the top @ 4500 ft? The trail is easy enough to follow with the San Diego Mtn Biking Guide book, and Heckler's directions are dead on. Even the gearing is correct hehe. The best place for photo ops is on the rocks on the right side of the summit. Great view!
Undead_gene_wilder a 35 year old Weekend Warrior riding a A Carne Asada Burrito from Lolita's from San Diego
- Trail UpdateBlack Mountain Rd.-I heard of this ride a few years ago and have always wanted to check it out. Finally did and I wasn't disappointed.
This is an up and back fire road with some beautiful scenery and a fun descent. The total ride is 14.2 miles. The ride up is a constant, middle ring grind until about mile 6.2, where the granny gear comes in handy.
The ride starts out in dry chapparal. Begin the exposed, winding climb and at about mile 1.5 you'll see a ranger 'Black Mountain' sign with a map at a fork in the road. Keep to your left. I understand that if you take the right, this leads you to Mesa Grande.
Keeping to your left, keep on grinding up the mountain. Your goal is the patch of pine trees way up top that you can see from your parking spot. The truck trail rolls and winds. Between mile 3 and 4 you get some much needed shade from the oaks. At about mile 5 you start passing some great vistas with forever views. Really scenic. Parts of this remind me of the Indian Truck Trail. You'll also approach another 'Black Mountain' sign around here with a map and some wildlife brochures. Keep to your right this time, which is the uphill course. If you go left it's just a dead-end spur.
The climb gets a little looser and steeper at this point, but more scenic. You'll hit the pine trees soon (at about the steepest pitch) and the 'Penney Pines' sign on your right. It gets really loose around here, but no dabs necessary.
You'll reach the top at about mile 7.2, which is basically a dirt culdesac surrounded by small boulders. A neat feature is the fire look-out station at top, which entails a hike of about a quarter mile or so starting from the top, to the north. You have to scamper over some boulders and weeds, but there is a barely discernible trail. Soon you'll see the concrete bunker-looking cistern, which has some vine-covered rock steps leading up to it. It looks like something out of Planet of the Apes. If you stand on top of the bunker you are rewarded with an unbelievable, 360 degree panoramic view. It's well worth the short hike.
In all, this ride entails a good workout climb of over 3,000', a great view on top and a fun, fast descent.
Ride rating: Intermediate
Ride distance: 14.2 Elevation change: over 3,000'
Heckler a Cross-Country Rider riding a FSR from San Diego