So today I had a chance to ride the Santa Ana River Trail (SART) in SoCal. Never been out there and its far from home. So Hawg and I got up early (well, I got up early . . . he got to sleep in), drove the 2 hours out, and hit the dirt. This was no easy ride but so well worth it.
After driving through the city, and finally escaping the confines of the concrete jungle, it started looking like there might be some wilderness (and isolation!). Kinda hard to have a bad day when it looks like this:
There's GOT to be trail up there somewhere!
Its always hard to imagine that terrain like this is just a short drive out of Los Angeles. I think its a common misconception that theres no nature in LA.
Schweeeew! Made it! Population: 190 Elevation 5800
So we got a little lost before we even got started. Neither Hawg nor I had ever ridden SART before and had only a rough idea of where to go. We missed this turn the first time around . . .
Once on the single-track, we were rewarded with some spectacular trail, and the best part is that its relatively well marked along the way. Now, here's a nice shot . . . what you don't get from the picture is that over that lip to the left of my bike is about a 150' vertical drop with nothing but boulders to break your fall. We knew there was exposure on this trail, but I don't think either of us were fully prepared for the extent of it.
But when you have views like this, you forget all about the danger:
Ahhhh, first rest stop. This is about 11 miles in. The part that I was unable to get a picture of, and I REALLY wish I did, is that about a mile before this stop, we passed a pretty damn big rattler. The scary part is that he was all curled up in a nice, tight little ball, sleeping away . . . . about 2" off the trail. My foot passed about 6" from his head. At first I thought it was some big funky mushroom, but I noticed once I got close enough that it was not. Fortunately, Hawg passed by without incident, I shouted "snake!" (Hawg likes these animals for some odd reason) and we quickly backtracked to get a close look. By this point, Mr. Snake was wide awake and a bit grumpy to say the least. I couldn't get my camera out in time, but I think Hawg got him on video. He was about 3' in length and pretty darkly colored. Anyway . . . back to the pics:
And this is right across the road from the previous pic. We will eventually be exiting the trail here to back track the way we came:
So from this spot, you have a choice . . . you can either climb up SART from the above photo, or you can climb up the fire road. Not knowing the trail or the level of difficulty we would encounter, we chose the safe route and took the fire road to ensure we had the gas to make it to the end, as we had heard that climbing this particular section of the trail is particularly taxing. We came to this lovely piece of very informative signage. We went to the right.
Ahhh . . . . the turn around spot! Who put this picnic table here?! Oh, thats right, its a campground. Mental note: do NOT ride into the campground and do what we did. Use the tables at the Host site, right in the front. The host was none to pleased that we rode into the campground and used a site for like 15 minutes.
And now the return trip begins . . . back the way we came, except now we ride on SART and not the fire road. Its odd though, this trail somehow feels uphill both directions?!
Here you can see the fire road down below. I'd wager its a few hundred feet below us at this point.
So we came to a spot where I thought "Hey, time for some photography!" I thought that I would wait here and snap a pic of Hawg as he came down this section of trail. It didn't look all that far . . . . until he actually got over there. Yes, he is in both of these pictures:
I regrettably don't have many pictures of the actual trail itself, though Hawg has some video that he'll post. I was just having too much damn fun riding . . . or concentrating. At least 40% of this trail is exposed with a trail bed that narrows to 6" at times, and soft, loose pumice on the exposed edge. This is not a trail for the "lazy rider" . . . you have GOT to be on your game at almost all times, as the penalty for failure is VERY high. But the payout is very worth it . . . the rest of the trail takes you through alpine forest, redwood and oak groves, and is incredibly fun.
All told, 31 miles and 4100' of climbing over 4 hours.
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