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  1. #1
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    All-Mountain trail and rental recommendations in SoCal? (visiting from MN)

    Heading to LA next weekend and have a free day to ride. We've only been "mountain biking" for two years and I put that in quotes because we're in Minnesota, so I'm not sure if what we have here is really considered mountain biking. We're probably looking for an intermediate trail...ideally with a lot of singletrack in good shape. I've checked out the trail reviews here, trails.com, and singletrack.com....but things seem out of date everywhere and I know locally our IBMA chapter has done a ton of work the last two years that doesn't show up on those sites.

    Are there any "must ride" trails with-in 2 hours of LAX?

    We will also need to rent bikes, so and tips would be greatly appreciated.

    I cannot express how jealous I am you guys get to ride year round...sure I've got a fatbike to get my snow/zero-degree rides/workouts in, but it's just not the same!
    Last edited by jason12vb; 01-16-2013 at 01:32 PM.

  2. #2
    Dirty by Nature
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    Where in L.A. will you be staying? That will help with rentals and trails.

    The San Juan Trail in south OC is a classic. BUT the initial climb is about 7 miles. There are also great trails in the Santa Monicas and San Gabriels.
    Friends don't let friends ride e-"bikes" on dirt.

  3. #3
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    Thanks for the response.

    We'll be staying very close to LAX.

    I did find reviews on San Juan and it's on the short list of possibilities I've found...but I'm not gonna lie...a 7 mile climb for 2 guys from the plains of the Midwest is a daunting task! We've got a great local bike chapter here doing phenomenal work on our trails creating miles and miles of technical and flowing singletrack...but the elevation gain is only like 300ft, not much you can do about that!

  4. #4
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    Tons of prime riding in the vicinity of LAX, although if you're unlucky with traffic 2 hours might only get you 15 miles hah.

    I'm sure other people will chime in with suggestions, but this map has a pretty good overview of trails in the Santa Monica mountains, which run up the coast. Some of my favorite intermediate trails include Cheeseboro, Sycamore, backbone east and west. Be prepared for some climbing on all of these rides though.

    One thing you should be ready for is to hear from people in LA about how cold its been
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    Ha, trust me...we're getting a nice chuckle up here in our single digit temps when seeing news casts and clips about Californian's freezing their butts off at 55 degrees. It's probably not all that different than you guys laughing at us for thinking a 500ft climb is hell

    Hopefully on a Sunday traffic will cooperate...but we've got the whole day, if we find a trail people think we need to experience we'll spend the time to get there.

    Thanks for the links, I'll definitely check them out.

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    Definitely look into chantry flats, mt Wilson trail, and the Sam Merrill/sunset ridge/el prieto trails in the San Gabriel mtns just north of Pasadena...IMHO some of our best stuff down here (since sart and idyllwild are snowed in now)

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    Jason- If you can set up a (short) shuttle, the Chiquito trail is a really fun one. It starts off on the San Juan trail, then you can take the Viejo Tie trail to Chiquito--fun chunk and beautiful views.

    http://trails.mtbr.com/cat/united-st...5_4520crx.aspx

    On a Sunday, you could get to the trailhead in about 80 minutes. Also, Idyllwild has a bunch of really fun trails (they'll be snow-free by the time you're here). Contact the Hub Cyclery for info.
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    Thanks everyone...I'm checking out all these trails at time permits. Considering we feel fortunate to have to have 6 or 7 options in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area it's mind blowing how many trials there are out there.

    I'm somewhat concerned with rentals right now...the Hub Cyclery is only open from 11-2 on Sundays...is that normal?

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    Chiquito is likely to be a shock if it's your first experience with this kind of riding. I'd shuttle San Juan. You will love it. Even if you climb it, it's worth it. Just take your time going up.

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    Jason- Idyllwild is a very small town, and I'm pretty sure the Hub does a shop ride on Sunday mornings. I would call them up to be sure. But there's a pretty good chance that they could accommodate you; they're good people!
    Friends don't let friends ride e-"bikes" on dirt.

  11. #11
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    2 hours on a Sunday should get you pretty far, but the rentals might be difficult. For trails going north you could go to Chesebro, the climbing starts off mellow and gradually gets steeper, from LAX that would be a little over an hour with no traffic. In the Pasadena area El Prieto's climbing isn't too bad and has some of the best singletrack in the area.

  12. #12
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    I'm going to be in the minority here, but if you're staying near LAX, you don't want to go anywhere in the San Gabriel's. You'll spend half the day in the car even without traffic just getting to and from the trails, plus the bike rental (more on that in a minute).

    From that area, I'd head North to the Santa Monica's and ride either Backbone trail from Kanan-Dume (East or West is fun) or Cheseboro. Cheseboro is a lot of fireroad without much single track, though its also the flattest trails of the bunch. Backbone heading EAST starts off with a mind-numbing stooopid steep climb, but its short. After that it undulates . . . a little up . . . a little down, etc. If you are in decent shape its not bad and you can get in some miles. If you head WEST, you can get in even more miles, but its a bit more climbing involved.

    For a bike rental, I'd call Helen's in Santa Monica and see what they have. If you ask to "Demo" a bike, they'll set you up for the day for like $50. I know for certain they have a SC Tallboy LT demo right now, which would be loads of fun out here.

    If you want some other suggestions, let me know. I'm local to Santa Monica and would be happy to show you around if you want. I'm from the Midwest originally, so I know what kind of terrain you're coming from! It took me two months to be able to climb here at all and I'm still slower than snot.
    Alcohol may lead nowhere, but it sure is the scenic route!

  13. #13
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    Chesebro.

    Keep it simple and sample a little bit of everything we have to offer here. Park maps are usually available at the end of the dirt parking lot. We can suggest some loops if you decide to go there.

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    As 007 stated, Backbone from Kanan Rd is a really nice ride without steady climbing. As a bonus you can bypass the freeway and take Lincoln Blvd all the way from LAX to Helens in Santa Monica, and then enjoy PCH to Kanan Rd. If Helens doesn't have demo bikes available just call around. There are many shops in that area so you should be able to find one with demo/rental bikes. Further down PCH is Sycamore Canyon great riding but more climbing.

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    Another thought is to rent/ride from Topanga Creek Bikes. Topanga is a weird little town and you can rent a bike and ride right from the shop.
    Alcohol may lead nowhere, but it sure is the scenic route!

  16. #16
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    Bike Attack is one more option for bike rentals.
    This is from their website
    Mountain bikes with Shimano XT components, full suspension and softtail: $50/day (sizes 17" and 19")

    Tons of fun biking in the santa monica mountains!! Sycamore Canyon gets two thumbs up!

  17. #17
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    Pt Mugu

    Long initial climb but my fat 48 year old arse can mid ring it so you should manage OK. Views of the pacific and canyons along with some sweet singletrack; Hell Hill is well, pretty steep but short and it buys you another fun singletrack.

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    I was thinking Topanga bike shop as well as you can rent and ride right from there. Plus, I bet you can demo a Niner.

  19. #19
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    If you end up in OC, the Path bike shop has rentals for $55. Last time I was there they had Intense, and a few other high end bikes for rent...

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by sirsam84 View Post
    Definitely look into chantry flats, mt Wilson trail, and the Sam Merrill/sunset ridge/el prieto trails in the San Gabriel mtns just north of Pasadena...IMHO some of our best stuff down here (since sart and idyllwild are snowed in now)
    I rode SART yesterday, and although there is plenty of show up there, it was mostly ride-able. I ride SART all year round. We also rode it December 26 when it was snowing and had a blast. Large animal prints turned out to by Mountain Lion tracks (according to a buddy at Fish and Game), and were everywhere, but we did not get to see any big kitty's. Temps were from 39 to 55 degrees, so not too bad. It was tough to get traction but the snow was thinner as we dropped into the bottom. Do not let a little snow stop you all from enjoying it up there, just be safe and have fun!
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  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by OO7 View Post
    Another thought is to rent/ride from Topanga Creek Bikes. Topanga is a weird little town and you can rent a bike and ride right from the shop.
    To this locale, just off the 101 at Canoga is Santa Monica Mountains Cyclery. They have Turner, Knolly, and Intense.

    I might suggest the Rocky Peak area in Chatsworth/Simi. Las Llajas (as a means of riding up), across Rocky Peak FR (wide, but super chunk in sections - very fun) to Chumash (somewhat technical, then flowy) or Hummingbird (technical most of the way down) You can add Johnson's (down then up - mix of rocky and flowy with great lines if you have a FS) if you want to add about 6 miles. Johnson's, Chumash, and Las Llajas are moderate to easy climbs, respectively, but don't try to climb Hummingbird... Now that I think of it, the last .2 or so of the Llajas route climb (actually on R.P. FR) isn't easy at all.

    Cycle World close by in Chatsworth demos Specialized and Cannondale.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by blown240 View Post
    If you end up in OC, the Path bike shop has rentals for $55. Last time I was there they had Intense, and a few other high end bikes for rent...
    I can highly recommend "The Path" bike shop as well. They have lots of rentals. Tallboy LTc, Intense Carbine 27.5...
    This shop has been constantly voted "The best in SoCal..."

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by jazzanova View Post
    I can highly recommend "The Path" bike shop as well. They have lots of rentals. Tallboy LTc, Intense Carbine 27.5...
    This shop has been constantly voted "The best in SoCal..."
    You can check out their demo fleet on their Facebook page.

  24. #24
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    my advice would be to get to the nearest trails possible, you will waste so much time driving on the SoCal fwy's trying to get to the OC or Pasadena that you won't have much time riding. Santa Monica has some very nice trails with great scenery and good shops with great rentals close by, and probably plenty of people willing to show you around. Santa Monica's or Simi Valley, you can't go wrong.
    Last edited by 2w4s; 01-18-2013 at 11:24 AM.
    nothing witty here...

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    So, due to rental limitations we have decided on either Aliso Woods or Whiting Ranch. As of now the forecast calls for rain on Thursday and Friday. Will either of those trails be ride-able Saturday if it rains a lot before?

    In Minnesota we can do some pretty good damage to our singletrack after it rains, but I suspect the soil here reacts much differently than it does there.

  26. #26
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    Non of those 2 trails are very good right after a heavy rain.
    The wet soil gets pretty sticky, works like clay.
    If the rain is not heavy and the weather after is warm and sunny they are usually alright the next day.
    The best trail to ride after rain in this area is San Juan.

  27. #27
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    Anything more than about 1/3 inch rain will close both of those parks--so right now it looks kinda iffy...

    You could do the Santiago Truck Trail-Luge (with an option to Old Camp)--just on the other side of Whiting. It's in the National Forest, so it doesn't close, and handles light rain pretty well.

    And you could drive down to the San Juan Trail. It's rideable even in the rain. If you'd like a tour guide at any of those spots, let me know!
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  28. #28
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    Both Aliso and Whiting close after any significant rain.

    If it rains, I'd suggest riding San Jaun trail in the Cleveland National Forest. It tends to hold up pretty well in the rain.

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    Wow, I had no idea there were so many responses to this thread...at first I was getting email notifications, but those stopped last weeek so I thought the thread died...wrong.

    thanks for all the info guys, this is exactly the type of info I needed and it's good to see an active and helpful forum like our local IMBA chapter (morcmtb.org).

    We decided where we did so we could rent a couple 650b's from the Path Bike shop, turns out is was a suggestion from more than one of you

    That 7 mile climb at San Juan might kill two guys from the Midwest, but if it's our best option then so be it. Looks like it's not much farther from the other two, so it should work out if need be. Looks like we've got a lot of other suggestions here too on different areas, I'll start checking them out just in case one area doesn't get hit with the rains.

  30. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by dirtvert View Post
    And you could drive down to the San Juan Trail. It's rideable even in the rain. If you'd like a tour guide at any of those spots, let me know!
    A guide would be great, but considering we have to take a 20 minute rest after our hilliest climb here (probably only 400 ft) I don't think we'd want to subject anyone to the frustration of sticking with us...it would probably be very comical for you though

  31. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by OO7 View Post
    I'm going to be in the minority here, but if you're staying near LAX, you don't want to go anywhere in the San Gabriel's. You'll spend half the day in the car even without traffic just getting to and from the trails, plus the bike rental (more on that in a minute).

    From that area, I'd head North to the Santa Monica's and ride either Backbone trail from Kanan-Dume (East or West is fun) or Cheseboro. Cheseboro is a lot of fireroad without much single track, though its also the flattest trails of the bunch. Backbone heading EAST starts off with a mind-numbing stooopid steep climb, but its short. After that it undulates . . . a little up . . . a little down, etc. If you are in decent shape its not bad and you can get in some miles. If you head WEST, you can get in even more miles, but its a bit more climbing involved.

    For a bike rental, I'd call Helen's in Santa Monica and see what they have. If you ask to "Demo" a bike, they'll set you up for the day for like $50. I know for certain they have a SC Tallboy LT demo right now, which would be loads of fun out here.

    If you want some other suggestions, let me know. I'm local to Santa Monica and would be happy to show you around if you want. I'm from the Midwest originally, so I know what kind of terrain you're coming from! It took me two months to be able to climb here at all and I'm still slower than snot.
    Thanks, this is some great info and makes me feel better knowing you've seen what we consider hilly I'll definitely check these out.

  32. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by trmn8er View Post
    I rode SART yesterday, and although there is plenty of show up there, it was mostly ride-able. I ride SART all year round. We also rode it December 26 when it was snowing and had a blast. Large animal prints turned out to by Mountain Lion tracks (according to a buddy at Fish and Game), and were everywhere, but we did not get to see any big kitty's. Temps were from 39 to 55 degrees, so not too bad. It was tough to get traction but the snow was thinner as we dropped into the bottom. Do not let a little snow stop you all from enjoying it up there, just be safe and have fun!
    Very cool! We just went from 40 degrees and having all of our snow melt down to -20 and praying for snow to come so we can get back out and ride. My snow rides this season so far have been between 3 and 19 degrees (after up to 14" snowfalls), so 39-50 would be a dream! I've never done snow on a non-fattie though...

  33. #33
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    Not good

    The pars service closes them for 48 hours after measurable rai, and whiting usually quite a bit longer. As stated above San Juan is good after some rain. Sycamore in riverside is pretty far away but shrugs off rain very well, it is about 45 min to an hour from the path though so it's your call as to weather or not it's worth it to you.

  34. #34
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    One great option after rain in the SM's is Space Mountain/Los Robles . . . so long as its not ACTIVELY raining, that trail seems to soak up moisture really well.

    Not too harsh on the climbing out there either.
    Alcohol may lead nowhere, but it sure is the scenic route!

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    Quote Originally Posted by dirtvert View Post
    Anything more than about 1/3 inch rain will close both of those parks--so right now it looks kinda iffy...

    You could do the Santiago Truck Trail-Luge (with an option to Old Camp)--just on the other side of Whiting. It's in the National Forest, so it doesn't close, and handles light rain pretty well.

    And you could drive down to the San Juan Trail. It's rideable even in the rain. If you'd like a tour guide at any of those spots, let me know!
    +1 For Dirtvert's guided tours.. He took myself and another guy on the San Juan trail a few weeks ago and I while I was lagging behind he was patient and knew his way around.

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