- Thursday, June 13, 2024

Southern California Trails

  • Cuyamaca Rancho State Park - #CuyamacaRanchoStatePark

    Socal - San Diego County - Green Valley Falls NickNames: #CuyamacaRanchoStatePark

    From San Diego, take Hwy 8 east past Alpine. Take Hwy 79 north for about 10 miles to the park HQ. To reach it from Julian, take Hwy 79 south for 14 miles. There are other parking areas along 79 (both north and south of the HQ) if you prefer a different starting point. Thomas Guide page: 1176/1196

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    • Trail UpdateCuymamaca Loop-Started at the Campgrounds. Through greenvalley - Trail is dry and dusty, nice overall. Soapstone grade is in great condition. Once you get to milk ranch, you start seeing the devasted trees and trails up above. first time here since the fires, and i was hoping the trails would be in better conditions. This ride would be mostly shaded once you climbed Milk Ranch before the fires. From Azalea to Japacha creek, the trail is overgrown with shrubs and plants that were not there before. Used to be a fast downhill ride, now you have to watch the corners from all the wild growth hitting your face in some spots. I probably won't try this ride for a few years. Use to be a great ride.

      a Weekend Warrior


    • Trail UpdateMiddle Peak Disaster-Middle Peak Fire Rd, and the singletrack around it, are an absolute disaster. So many downed trees across the trail, and so much overgrown shrubbery, that it eventually becomes next to impossible, and certainly not much fun. Why do I keep trying?! But the Fern Valley Fire Rd is in good condition, and lots of greenery is coming up in the burned areas. The trails on the east side of Cuyamaca Peak, including the paved road to the top, are all good late afternoon rides, esp. in the summer.
      Seaclasper a 38 year old Cross-Country Rider riding a Voluminous Hornswaggler from Shakedown St.


    • Trail UpdateMiddle Peak Fire Road-Middle Peak FR is a mess. It's not so much the ruts and downed trees in the trail (which are sorta fun!), but the trail is so overgrown that in some spots you basically have to push your way through chest-deep brush while carrying the bike. Also, Milk Ranch Road was closed yesterday for some reason, might be a good idea to call ahead and see whats open and closed if you're planning a ride in this area.
      Seaclasper a Cross-Country Rider riding a Fatuous Contemplative Memorabilia Collector from The Nether Region


    • Trail UpdateDestroyed-Did the Park Headquarters to Soapstone to Middle Peak route back to Sweetwater Bridge on 4-22-06. Can you say punishment? Haven't done this 22 mile route since before the big fire and last year's flooding rains. Wow, talk about extreme damage.

      Soapstone is about the same, but Middle Peak is totally destroyed. It's basically a river bed at the beginning of the gate off Milk Ranch Rd. That lasts for several hundred yards. It smooths out a bit, but between the burned out forest, downed trees and additional ruts, the trail doesn't look anything like its old self. Almost got lost on top at beginning of Black Oak Trail because of downed trees and washed out trail was so hard to follow--physically and visibly.

      The final seven mile downhill is so-so. Still muddy in some spots from the melted snow (I guess), but not too bad. Not nearly as fast as it used to be.

      This used to be a premier ride. Now it's just punishment.
      Busted Bike


    • Trail UpdateEast Mesa To Park Boundary-After the recent wet weather, trail conditions at Cuyamaca are close to perfect. East Mesa is a nice little fireroad, its about 7.1 miles to the park boundary for 79; after Granite Springs, the trail turns into some really nice, legal, singletrack. Unfortunately, there is no legal outlet, so that makes this an out and back. The side trip up Oakzanita Peak is also excellent singletrack, and gets technical up near the top.

      Incidentally - saw a couple of guys out on the trail today not only biking through an open meadow with no trail, but heading for a no-biking trail to boot. If you're reading this, thanks for nothing - I'll think of you next time I come up on a trail thats closed because of gap-toothed weasels like you...
      Seaclasper a 36 year old Cross-Country Rider riding a Air conditioned nightmare from San Dee Eggo


    • Trail UpdateCuyamaca Peak-Cold and windy at the top of Cuyamaca today! It was mighty chilly on the way back down as well, lucky for me I had a thick fleece in my pack... Good trail conditions, except they over-graded Azelea Springs Road... About 1/4 of the way up Milk Ranch Road saw a little herd of deer, seems to be a pretty reliable spot to see them.
      Seaclasper a 36 year old Cross-Country Rider riding a tandem McGillicuddy from Pernicious, AL


    • Trail UpdateCuayamaca Loop-Did the loop yesterday from Middle Peak down the West side of the park , around to the East side via Upper Green Valley F.R. and back. I would consider this a fairly non-technical and non-strenuous ride for the most part with two exceptions...
      Fren Flat is quite rutted and the downhills can be challenging. If you ride this route clockwise, you'd have to do that uphill. Also, the climb after Green Valley Fire Road is full of fist-size rocks - combined with the steep incline, it can get frustrating.
      Real nice 16 mile ride - I can't imagine how beautiful the place musta been before the fires. I'll just have to come back in twenty years and ride it again (if I still can!)...
      The Seaclasper a 35 year old Cross-Country Rider riding a Nicaraguan Dirt Farmer Special from San Dee Eggo


    • Trail UpdateMiddle Peak-This was my first time riding Middle Peak since the fires. While other parts of the park have bounced back a bit and there are trails that are nice and rideable, NOT MIDDLE PEAK! We rode from the parking lot on the 79 at cold creek. First, we tackled The main Peak via Azalea springs. The trail was only in moderate conition and almost all of the trees are burned out. The recent rains made for some cool water crossings. Next we trasitioned over to Middle Peak via Milk Ranch road. The entire mountain has been completely devastated! No plan life other than some sparse ground cover from the rains. The fire road itself has washed-0ut entirely leaving huge, rock filled ravines. The climb up turned into a bike hike and the way down was only barely rideable (great for working on those technical skills!) This was a real bummer to find as the middle peak was always a nice way to add a few quality miles on to the end of a long ride. I prohably won't try to ride this peak again for a few years.
      Ride rating: Advanced
      Ride distance: 12 Elevation change: 2000
      Bob Umpenhauer a 32 year old Cross-Country Rider riding a KHS Single-speed from Point Loma


    • Trail UpdateHey Extaban:

      How's the last 5 mile ride down the fire road back to the car? Firm dirt? Also, a "lake" in the meadow above Soapstone hasn't been seen since 1998. Cool!
      Thanks for the update.

      MTBDanno a Weekend Warrior


    • Trail UpdateIt Gets Really Cold Here-This past weekend was my second failed attempt at completing the big loop.
      The first time was in late november and we gave up because it was freezing and snowing. The more recent trip we turned back because it was getting cold and we knew we couldn't make it back to the car before dark. One nice thing about the trail crossing the highway is that you have an easy and quick way back to the car if you have to give up early.

      We parked at the Dyar Monument lot, near the school camp, and took the trail to the soapstone grade. Once the narrow fire road/wide single track trail veers off of the main dirt road (right before it meets a paved road), You'll have plenty of stream crossings that will get you soaked. When we went it was about 5-10 inches deep, so it's a good thiing you won't be needing your brakes for a while. The soapstone grade is a bit tough, mostly because it's all rocks that can be tricky to manouver through on a steep climb. The sudden change in view at the top is nice. Huge meadow and a lake suddenly in front of you. There was some snow when we went, which was very cool. The trail wasn't as muddy as I expected. Once we got toward Middle Peak and the Azalea Trail, pretty much the whole trail was covered in 1-2 inches of snow, which is like riding in mud that doesn't splash.

      So if you want to ride this trail in January, keep in mind that it is MUCH colder at the top of the mountain than at the trailhead, so bring a light jacket. And check the weather before you go to make sure it will be a clear day.

      Keep in mind that the percents of each type of trail is only for the portion from the school camp to middle peak, via soapstone grade.
      Ride rating: Intermediate
      Singletrack=5% Dirt Road=15% Paved Path=15% Truck Trail=65%
      Exteban a 23 year old Cross-Country Rider riding a K2 Razorback from Sans Diego


    • Trail UpdateThe Classic Loop-Just a few miles to go I kept saying to myself..........ugh..

      The is the quinessential "ride thru the woods" mtbiking that is
      rare in losocal. Most of our riding is desert or semi-desrt
      conditions. Only Noble Canyon, east of Cuyamaca a few miles
      has the trees like this place.

      Starting at the East Mesa Fire Rd pkg area, we jump into the
      single track which takes us to the large pkg area used by the
      "horse people". Then cut across 79 to the additional sngle track
      which takes us to the "DYE MONUMENT" pkg area. Then behind
      the camp and up to Soapstone for a gruelling uphill. Once up at
      the level of what is now a dry lake bed (Cuyamaca Lake), the
      trail is in ideal conditions for a VERY FAST run west, back to
      hwy 79. The only thing keeping the speeds down was the
      headwinds from the approaching storms. There are exposes
      areas of the trail that head west where the wind made it feel
      like I was riding with my brake on. Once on the west side of
      the park, we climbed up "Middle Peak" to the 2nd entrance of
      the new single track, the "Black Oak Trail". Not exactly single
      track, but the terrain is rough, rocky and demands full
      attention. Our group of 7 "regrouped" at the "Kebbler Elf
      Tree" (you just got to see this hollowed out 40 foot tall
      "stump). The ride, or at least the uphill portion) is pretty
      much over when we climb up the last mile or so to Alzelea
      Springs. Then we end with the over 7 miles of incredible
      downhill riding back to the car.

      EXCELLENT ride!
      Ride rating: Intermediate
      Ride distance: 20+ miles Elevation change: ????
      Singletrack=60% Dirt Road=40%
      Mtbchip a 44 year old Cross-Country Rider riding a Catamount, just like the last guy...... from San Diego, CA USA


    • Trail UpdateCuyamaca Park-I rode here for the first time last Sat (4-14-01). This is a beatiful park. It seemed like over half of the ride was in the trees. The only downside was that it seemed most of the singletrack in the park is off limits to bikes. Too bad, because there are many sweet-looking trails. Regardless, there is plenty of good fireroad and doubletrack trails to keep one busy for hours. I started off of 79 about 1 or 2 miles south of the park HQ. I rode up the highway and entered the park at the HQ and took the main road east. My directions from here are a bit hazy since I was following someone who was familiar with the park. However, we basically stayed on the main fireroad to the right, which becomes Upper Green Valley Fire Road. (The Stonewall Creek Fire Road branched off to the left.) We climbed Green Valley for about 2.5 miles to the junction with Soapstone Grade. Soapstone was somewhat steeper and rockier than Green Valley. You need to pick a good line through the rock garden to keep your momentum. We met a few riders on horseback at the top. They were waiting for us to finish the climb and they were friendly (a good sign that the local riders have been courteous). We then descended down to 79. From here, we turned right for a short paved descent and then crossed the highway to Milk Ranch Rd and then turned right onto the Middle Peak Fire Road. This was one one of the best parts of the ride. The climb up is moderate and mostly smooth, nothing too difficult for most riders (even beginners); however, it is beatiful. There are trees everywhere and the air is fresh and clean and smells of pine. We encountered snow near the top. At first, it was just patches; but, then it covered the entire trail for the last half mile or so to the top. I imagine this has melted by now (unless the recent weather has dropped more snow on the peak). After a Clif Bar break, we dropped down the other side for a fast, fun, rock-dodging ride. We passed a few groups of hikers along the way. They were also quite friendly. After reaching Milk Ranch Fire Road at Azalea Springs, we turned right on Azalea and climbed for a short length. From there, we dropped down to Cuyamaca Peak Road (paved). We thought that there might be snow on most of the upper section as well so we just crossed it and connected with the Fern Flat Fire Road. From here, it seemed like it was all downhill for 5+ miles. Another fast descent brought us to Japacha/West Mesa junction. We turned right and continued dropping down to 79. Turning right on 79, we returned a short distance to the parking area. Since it was a beautiful day, we decided to add another mile or so to the ride. There is a fun (legal) singletrack behind the parking area. It is smooth and fast. It climbs at the start and then twists and drops down to 79. Rode this as an ou-and-back to finish the day with about 22 miles and 3 hrs of great riding. I'll definitely be back to explore and become more familiar with the park (and probably try to connect this ride with Noble Cyn some time). Even though it takes me about 2 hrs to get here, it is well worth the drive. I rate the ride as Intermediate only because Novice riders may not enjoy all of the climbing and there are a few rocky sections that could cause a crash if someone was going too fast. However, there is nothing technical or too strenuous that most reasonably fit and skilled riders could not handle.
      Ride rating: Intermediate
      Ride distance: 22 miles Elevation change: 3000
      Singletrack=10% Dirt Road=75% Paved Path=15%
      SS a 33 year old Die-hard Enthusiast riding a Catamount from OC


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