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  1. #1
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    Where to Winter Vacation?

    Hey SoCal!,

    NorCal mtb'r here. Planning ahead for a winter vacation around New Years. I'm being told that Sedona is out this year because it is too far away for the amount of time we have. We typically rent a house, hang out, cook good food, and enjoy the scenery with friends (my wife and her friends are teachers, hence the timing). But I always try to make sure I can get in some good mtb riding. My wife hates snow; she wants to vacation someplace warmer... but not too far away.

    Right now we are considering Santa Barbara, Solvang, San Luis Obisbo, or possibly near San Diego. We lived in LA for a while and don't dig the normal touristy stuff, plus our friends live in Santa Monica, so not around there. Last year we went to Joshua Tree, and it was cool, but the riding kinda sucked. We've also tried outside of Vegas before, and again, "meh".

    So without me scouring tons of trail reviews, where do you think would be the best place to rent a house (VRBO or the like), within close proximity to some trails I would be stoked on, while also giving the less adventurous souls something pretty to look at and interesting to check out. Maybe a brewery or winery would be a big plus.

    For reference - trails I have been stoked on: most everything around Lake Tahoe, Mammoth, Downieville, Santa Cruz (Demo' Forest), Sedona trails, Oakridge Oregon trails, etc. I enjoy big climbs and all day excursions if there is ample flowy payoff. Techy does not scare me, but I'm not shuttling a six inch bike with full armor around, so keep it advanced XC to All Mountain.

    Oh yeah... HELLA... there you go. Thanks SoCal.
    Rollin' rocks will never die...

  2. #2
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    Back country SB trails are pretty fun for a 6inch bike. You can shuttle knapps, or down the road do a climb up Cameusa or Little pine. You're about a 5-10 minute drive from Cold Springs Tavern, and a 20-30 minute drive from the wineries and Figueria Brewery.

  3. #3
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    If you are looking for warmer weather, I suggest San Diego in the winter. I live in San Luis Obispo and its not the Nor-Cal cold of winter months, but it is not 70-75 degrees either. A lot of good trails here- between Cuesta Grade,Poly Canyon, MDO, and in town (Irish Hills, Johnson Ranch, and San Luis Mountain) there is definitely a weeks worth of solid riding, if not more. Edna Valley has some awesome wineries and Paso Robles is 30 miles north with 100s more. Some good local breweries and a fun downtown (farmers market every Thursday, rain or shine all year long). Pismo Beach, Shell Beach and Avila Beach are nice beach towns with more rental options than the city of SLO. I love this place but I went to school in San Diego so I also love that city. SD has more to do outside of biking and is a bigger area. I'm sure there is good riding there too, I've never ridden there though. I just hung out by the beach and had too much fun in PB!

  4. #4
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    I would think Solvang and SLO could possibly be pretty chilly and rainy (for So Cal).

    I only live about 1-1.5 hours away, but used to head out to Palm Desert/Springs for a week between Christmas and New Year's. Tons of good road riding options, plus some fun trails (Art Smith - Hahn Buena Vista, goat trails, Idyllwild on warmer days).

    I'm surprised with Redrocks/Cowboy Trails and Bootleg you didn't enjoy Vegas more.

    Many Pro's head to Tuscon in the winter to train, but if Sedona is out then Tuscon probably is as well.

  5. #5
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    Yeah, Sb isn't THAT warm in the winter. It's actually perfect riding weather, usually mid to high 60's. But definitely not "let's go hang out at the beach and swim" weather.

  6. #6
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    +2 for SB

    with the wife: shopping, farmers market, beach walks, hikes, urban wine trail, dinners and the list goes on.

    if you're staying in town the jesusita loop can be ridden out your back door. its roughly 13mile loop from downtown with 2500' of elevation and can be done in about 2.5 hours... this way your not leaving the wife behind for to long ands its a bad ass ride.

    Jesusita Out and Back Mountain Bike Trail, Santa Barbara, CA

    other front country loops include romero > romero > san ysidro or coldsprings approx 16miles and 3500' climbing.

    Romero Loop Mountain Bike Trail, Carpinteria, CA

    as gemini mentioned camuesa and little pine off paradise road. that's about a 20-30 minute drive from downtown to the lower oso trail head/parking area.

    Trail:LittlePine - SBMTV Trail Wiki
    Trail:Camuesa - SBMTV Trail Wiki

    a little further down the road is tequipis.

    Trail:Tequepis - SBMTV Trail Wiki

    based on your list of what gets you stoked you'll love all of these trails. though cold springs san ysidro and lower romero are a more techie/expert level trails.

  7. #7
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    Thanks guys. Yeah, I was leaning towards Santa Barbara. I've heard there is good riding, but that it's mostly fireroad climbs to DH runs. My post might have been confusing: I'm NOT riding a 6 inch bike, and don't want to shuttle. But your loop descriptions seem solid.
    The (relative) cold doesn't really bother me, and I know there is a good chance I could get rained out. But the wife's peeps seem to think they will enjoy the coast regardless.
    I might be willing to give South Nevada another shot - we stayed in Pahrump in a cool rental house but with nothing interesting near by. We don't enjoy Vegas, and I got sick the day I was suppose to ride Bootleg Canyon.
    Rollin' rocks will never die...

  8. #8
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    Somewhere around Laguna Beach would be nice. Good place for the family. You could go ride all day in Aliso. San Juan isn't too far for a good all day ride. Plenty of good food/things to do within 20-30 minutes of driving.

  9. #9
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    I'd vote for Palm Springs. Do the Palm Canyon Epic.
    The Palm Canyon Epic

    There's also plenty of riding around the goat trails too.
    The Goat Trails of Palm Springs

    Las Vegas is another warm weather option. It's a bit further than SoCal but not as far as Sedona.

  10. #10
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    Arizona for sure, can't beat the weather.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by jmallory View Post
    If you are looking for warmer weather, I suggest San Diego in the winter. I live in San Luis Obispo and its not the Nor-Cal cold of winter months, but it is not 70-75 degrees either. A lot of good trails here- between Cuesta Grade,Poly Canyon, MDO, and in town (Irish Hills, Johnson Ranch, and San Luis Mountain) there is definitely a weeks worth of solid riding, if not more. Edna Valley has some awesome wineries and Paso Robles is 30 miles north with 100s more. Some good local breweries and a fun downtown (farmers market every Thursday, rain or shine all year long). Pismo Beach, Shell Beach and Avila Beach are nice beach towns with more rental options than the city of SLO. I love this place but I went to school in San Diego so I also love that city. SD has more to do outside of biking and is a bigger area. I'm sure there is good riding there too, I've never ridden there though. I just hung out by the beach and had too much fun in PB!
    +1 SLO for sure. Check out Central Coast Concerned Mountain Bikers list of very well done maps to find all the fun trails. If you are staying for a week or so, it would only be a 1.5 hour drive to get to the trails in SB.

    There is also a pretty fun "freeride area" with more jumpy/bermy type trails. All of it is currently rollable but the group is going to be building more this fall. Check out FASTA for more details.

    PM me if you would like specific directional loops to take on the trail networks in slo (certain directions are more fun than others), if you do decide to come down for a visit.

  12. #12
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    Laguna Beach, from what I've heard, has it all. San diego has trails, but you really gotta LOOK for them. Not ideal, and I live there.
    Re-Cycled Person who rides a mountain bicycle.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by jadedbee View Post
    Hey SoCal!,
    We've also tried outside of Vegas before, and again, "meh".
    I live in SoCal, and when I want to "winter vacation" but not drive too far, Las Vegas is my first choice. There's is excellent riding at Bootleg Canyon, Cowboy Trails, Cottonwood Valley/Bue Diamond, and Bear's Best. Plus, there's plenty of hiking over at Red Rock Canyon for the non-mountain bikers in my family. I don't ever really go to the strip except perhaps to have dinner at a cool Mexican Food place I know at New York-New York.

    You stayed in Pahrump?? ....Next time stay in Vegas, any place near the strip is ideal since its easy to get to all the trails in Vegas from there.

    As far as Palm Springs, doing Palm Canyon requires a shuttle, and Goat Trails are great if you are a local, but I wouldn't necessarily call it a "destination-type" trail system....Hurkey Creek is nearby but everything in May Valley is closed because of the fire earlier this year.

    (fyi I've also ridden Mammoth, Santa Cruz, Sedona, etc. and Vegas as a winter destination is simply one of the best places you can go)



    Where to Winter Vacation?-071018-055..jpgWhere to Winter Vacation?-101104-045..jpgWhere to Winter Vacation?-specb.jpg
    Last edited by osmarandsara; 09-28-2013 at 11:35 AM.

  14. #14
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    I'll give Vegas another Bootleg is not only the short shuttle runs above the parking: Try Ernie's Epic for a taste of the many fine XC outings there.

    We go to Pasadena for Christmas every year, meaning already in November I start to dream of the lower San Gabes. Love the riding in those hills. The fire roads are long full day adventures. Singletracks like the Merrills and Chantry Flat are but a few of the excellent systems. But you gotta like climbing - a lot!

    We've rarely been shut down because of weather below 6000'.

  15. #15
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    Without knowing why Sedona isn't acceptable (too far off the beaten path?), I'd look into Phoenix or Tucson as you can fly directly in to those cities and be on the trails withing an hour. San Diego has some decent stuff, Noble Canyon and Big Laguna are my favorites, the San Juan Trail and Idyllwild are within striking distance. I agree with what the others say about the Palm Springs (lots of "other" stuff to do) in general but the Palm Canyon Epic is the only thing I've ridden out there so I don't know what else there is.

  16. #16
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    Really liking the looks of that stuff near Vegas.
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  17. #17
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    My wife and I are from Michigan and are planning on a week long mountain bike trip in March. We are looking for XC type trails and place where we can rent bikes. We were thinking Laguna Beach area. Aliso Canyon. Are their any good places to rent bikes? We were in the Palm Springs area about 5 years ago and rode some trails that the bike shop recommended. The one that we really enjoyed was Hahn Buena Vista. Do you think Vegas is a better option?

  18. #18
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    Another vote here for Phoenix and/or Tucson. 50 year trail and the 'chutes' up at the northern end, and 'Fantasy Island, just on the edge of town, make it a nice choice for me. I like to camp for a few days out there in Catalina State Park. And living in San Diego, on the way back home if I have the time I swing into Painted Rock primitive campground for a day out on the lava fields, riding and target shooting. Also several old mine sites there as well.
    Re-Cycled Person who rides a mountain bicycle.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by palo92 View Post
    My wife and I are from Michigan and are planning on a week long mountain bike trip in March. We are looking for XC type trails and place where we can rent bikes. We were thinking Laguna Beach area. Aliso Canyon. Are their any good places to rent bikes? We were in the Palm Springs area about 5 years ago and rode some trails that the bike shop recommended. The one that we really enjoyed was Hahn Buena Vista. Do you think Vegas is a better option?
    Just my opinion as somebody who grew up riding in Orange County, with the exception of the San Juan Trail (which I wouldn't necessarily consider XC), I don't think the riding in OC is anything special. Don't get me wrong, you can ride off road and you can get a good workout but when you compare it to Sedona, Tucson, Phoenix or even Vegas, it's weak.

  20. #20
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    Ojai has Nordhoff Ridge within riding distance; several great loops including Gridley trail, Pratt trail and others.

    OC has The Santa Anas; Trabuco Creek, Joplin, Holy Jim and other highly regarded outings. The beach wilderness areas for shorter rides.

    Ledsled's Palm Springs idea is a good one. Even if only Ramona trail and Palm Cyn. Note that Palm Cyn can be done w/o a shuttle by the hardy/motivated. US's tallest tramway from PS to the pines is a treat, albeing tourist-y. You can hike a few miles from the tram to bag one of several 10K' peaks.

    I know Phoenix is was struck from the list, but it's only six hours from the beach. If you like chunky riding, South Mountain and other areas dotted around the Valley are all-time. Could be worth the push out there.

    If you wind up in Orange County, I'd be happy to meet up for some of our goods, especially in the Santa Anas.

    Cheers...

    Mike

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by palo92 View Post
    My wife and I are from Michigan and are planning on a week long mountain bike trip in March. We are looking for XC type trails and place where we can rent bikes. We were thinking Laguna Beach area. Aliso Canyon. Are their any good places to rent bikes? We were in the Palm Springs area about 5 years ago and rode some trails that the bike shop recommended. The one that we really enjoyed was Hahn Buena Vista. Do you think Vegas is a better option?
    In March, I would not go to the desert locales because it will get hot midday.
    In March, Santa Barbara/Solvang/San Simeon is great if the weather cooperates and it does most of the time. You could do Pasadena area too, but no wineries.

    Have sunscreen ready!

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by palo92 View Post
    My wife and I are from Michigan and are planning on a week long mountain bike trip in March. We are looking for XC type trails and place where we can rent bikes. We were thinking Laguna Beach area. Aliso Canyon. Are their any good places to rent bikes? We were in the Palm Springs area about 5 years ago and rode some trails that the bike shop recommended. The one that we really enjoyed was Hahn Buena Vista. Do you think Vegas is a better option?
    That time of year sounds ideal for costal or desert riding. You'd have a ball at Aliso + other local areas on weekdays. Or at the larger Santa Ana range with a ±half-hour drive out of LB. The Path bike shop in Tustin (and also Live Oak Road, at the base of the Santa Anas) is a reputable MTB shop with an expansive rental fleet. Can't comment on Vegas riding, but it gets talked up regularly. Cheers...

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lead-Sled View Post
    I'd vote for Palm Springs. Do the Palm Canyon Epic.
    The Palm Canyon Epic

    There's also plenty of riding around the goat trails too.
    The Goat Trails of Palm Springs

    Las Vegas is another warm weather option. It's a bit further than SoCal but not as far as Sedona.
    There is a reason why over half of the richest people on the top 100 list spend a lot of their winters in the Coachella Valley. The weather is better than any place else and it has everything you need. There are more that enough trails to keep you busy.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by asphalt_jesus View Post
    In March, I would not go to the desert locales because it will get hot midday.
    In March, Santa Barbara/Solvang/San Simeon is great if the weather cooperates and it does most of the time. You could do Pasadena area too, but no wineries.
    I did the Palm Canyon ride a few years ago when it was in the low 90s down in the desert, but there were still patches of snow up at the top. The sand wash slog in the desert was a drag in that heat.
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    FYI, around new years, unless it's a dry year, the Lagunas in San Diego will have snow (so no Noble Canyon, no Big Laguna, no Indian Creek). The higher elevations in riverside county (anywhere near Hurkey Creek) will also have snow.

    The trails in SLO take a little longer than the trails in San Diego to recover from a rain (and there tends to be more rain in SLO). SLO has that sticky mud that makes your tires 20lb monsters. San Diego has a little bit of that, but not too much. Not sure about Santa Barbara or Solvang dirt.

    I would vote for San Diego county. There's a variety of ride types (everything from relatively smooth to rocky singletrack, long loops, long out-and-backs, networks), lots of different breweries and as a bonus, some orange county trails are close (maybe 1.5 hr drive). In winter, check out:

    - Anderson Truck Trail (as an out and back, long climb, lot's of technical stuff up top, open after rain)
    - Sycamore Canyon (loop, nothing too hard, a few technical bits at the drop-in to Martha's grove but, other than that, lot's of flow, closed after rain)
    - Rancho La Costa (network, series of loops, rocky and technical, ocean view, rideable a few days after rain)
    - Sweetwater Reservoir (out and back or lollipop loop, intermediate)
    - Daley Ranch (mix of fireroad and singletrack, lots of long loop options, plenty of climbing, open after a rain)
    - Calavera Lake (hard packed sand and rocks, network, open after a rain)
    - Elfin Forest (you sure you like climbing?, super technical, can be linked up to Rancho La Costa, closed after rain)

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