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Thread: Cuyamaca trails

  1. #1
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    Cuyamaca trails

    Hi all. At this point I know Mt Laguna like the back of my hand. I have never ridden in Cuyamaca. What do you all recommend? What mile marker or where should I park. What's worthwhile? I don't mind climbing, but love flowy trails. Recommendations, please!
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    Here's the map. It isn't up to date but will get you started. Trailforks and MTB project likely more current. The lighter shaded areas are state wilderness. https://www.parks.ca.gov/pages/667/f...yout060917.pdf

    A pretty good ride is start at the south end by East Mesa Fire Road. Go north on East Side/West Side trails. Up behind the school to Upper Green Valley Road/Trail. Go east on Lucky 5 trail (not on map) to its end, return and then go west to CHRT and Soapstone. Then you can go down Stonewall to the new Cold Spring Trail (also not on map) and then head south. Or keep going further west to Middle Peak / Azalea / Fern Flat and back down East/West side trails.

    Whatever route you do, wear a bell. There are almost always equestrians out and you will meet them on the trail. They get along with us pretty well because most bikers are courteous.

  3. #3
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    Here's one I like. Most of this is marked on the map evdog posted. As described it's about 26 miles. Perfect on the SS.

    Start/end at Oakzanita TH parking. I believe this is the southern-most parking symbol ("circle-P") on the map.

    Ride north on the trail adjacent to Hwy 79, to the large parking / horse staging area and cross the hwy at Sweetwater bridge. NOTE: You can also start the ride here, and cut about 3.6 miles off the ride.

    Take West Side trail north to West Mesa FR, go east across 79 and head back south on Cold Stream tr.

    A little before you reach the Visitors Center, cut back east on Hill trail (a short but grunty climb) to Upper Green Valley FR & tr. and head north. Continue past Soapstone Grade FR. You will soon enter Anza Borrego SP.

    You'll come to a junction where La Cima trail heads north, but if you want to do the (unmarked) Lucky 5 out & back, pass this and go a short way to the paved road. Cross it and continue on the single track. I *believe" this trail from the paved road to the big dirt parking lot with the restrooms is called La Cima, and Lucky 5 starts at that lot and goes south parallel to Sunrise Hwy to a gate for the (private) Lucky 5 ranch. This is the turn around spot.

    After returning, take the La Cima / CR&HT loop to Stonewall Grade FR and go west.

    Take Stonewall Peak FR south to School Camp & Visitor's Center, cross Hwy 79 back to West Side tr and head back to the car.

    I haven't been on the new Cold Spring trail so you should check mtbproject for that. Sounds like a nice alternative to Stonewall Peak FR, which would be a blast going downhill if not for the soft spots and horses.
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    We rode out there yesterday. To be honest, we ride it twice a year at the most and I go with friends who know the route so I pay little to no attention to where we're going. With these friends, we take the the route up from the campground to Azalea Spring which is too much fire road for my tastes but I put up with it twice a year.

    A different set of friends I went with last year have their own route and we went down the Cold Spring Trail mentioned by evdog. It's by far the best trail out there (or it was) and it's now on Trailforks as well.

    FWIW, it's not the most exciting ride but what we did yesterday....we parked at a dirt parking lot on the right side of Hwy 79 (you can't miss it) where the East Side Trail starts on Trailforks. We took that to the West Side Trail, right turn on Coldstream and then rode the dirt road north thru the state park, up Upper Green Valley to where it almost connects with Sunrise Hwy. Stay left and that becomes La Cima which is the best "flow" trail out there and a tad more challenging than BLT but more fun for a while. We followed it all the way around to Soapstone (which is really a fire road) we went right and stayed on that pretty much all the way out/across the 79 to Milk Ranch Trail (really an uphill dirt road) to Azalea Springs Fire Rd (fast downhill road) to Fern Flat Trail (more DH fire road) which will connect you with the West Side Trail again and you can ride back to your car. Total mileage was 23 miles, 2300' of climbing. **It would make for a shorter ride for sure but I suggest turning left on Stonewall as suggested by evdog and hitting Cold Spring**

    We saw a few horse trailers out there yesterday but never saw any riders. We saw ONE other riders and 10-15 hikers who all moved out of our way because they heard my bell coming up the road
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    ^I think you just described the "classic" Cuyamaca Grand Loop ride from mountainbikebill:

    Cuyamaca Rancho State Park
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    if you do La Cina/CRHT, and then take the double track to 79, it’s worth it to take 79 to Milk Ranch road and then up to Middle Peak.

    another fun ride out there is to combine it with Lagunas. Start at East Mesa and ride to Indian Creek, Champagne pass. then your choice of pine mountain or noble to Penny pines and some water. spin around BLT system and then back to Cuyamaca.


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    Quote Originally Posted by the one ring View Post
    ^I think you just described the "classic" Cuyamaca Grand Loop ride from mountainbikebill:

    Cuyamaca Rancho State Park
    I had no idea. I had to bounce back & forth between my Strava link and Trailforks to even find the trail names. capstone was the only name I knew.
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  8. #8
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    Thank you, all! I'll give it a shot over the weekend.
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    Here's another option: take one of the aforementioned routes to the Lucky 5 ranch gate on Sunrise Hwy. Ride ~4 miles of pavement south to the Pine Mountain trail on the west side of the highway (across from the Pioneer Mail picnic area). Ride Pine Mtn ~2 miles west to Indian Creek trail, IC ~3.5 miles west to Deer Park trail, DP ~1.5 miles west to East Mesa FR, then EMFR all the way back to Hwy 79.

    Using the shortest route, this loop is about 26 miles. Of course, it can be ridden in either direction. Word of warning, that stretch through Pine Mtn, Indian Creek and Deer Park trails has some of the worst tick activity I've ever been in.
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    Quote Originally Posted by the one ring View Post
    Here's another option: take one of the aforementioned routes to the Lucky 5 ranch gate on Sunrise Hwy. Ride ~4 miles of pavement south to the Pine Mountain trail on the west side of the highway (across from the Pioneer Mail picnic area). Ride Pine Mtn ~2 miles west to Indian Creek trail, IC ~3.5 miles west to Deer Park trail, DP ~1.5 miles west to East Mesa FR, then EMFR all the way back to Hwy 79.

    Using the shortest route, this loop is about 26 miles. Of course, it can be ridden in either direction. Word of warning, that stretch through Pine Mtn, Indian Creek and Deer Park trails has some of the worst tick activity I've ever been in.
    that would be a fun option.


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    Oriflamme Canyon Loop

    And here's another one, although not technically Cuyamaca, you could add some miles in by doing the loop of CR&HT -> Soapstone Grade -> Green Valley -> La Cima, which is the northern part of the routes described above. In that case you may want to start at the Fages Monument on Sunrise Hwy, where the CR&HT crosses, which gives you a convenient place to reload your water after doing half of the figure-8. The blue trail in the lower left of the MTB Bill topo map is the CR&HT coming up from Sunrise Hwy, then turning east on Mason Valley TT.

    I wouldn't try this one in hot weather. Also, it's mostly dirt road, but if you had a gravel bike…
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  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by the one ring View Post
    Here's another option: take one of the aforementioned routes to the Lucky 5 ranch gate on Sunrise Hwy. Ride ~4 miles of pavement south to the Pine Mountain trail on the west side of the highway (across from the Pioneer Mail picnic area). Ride Pine Mtn ~2 miles west to Indian Creek trail, IC ~3.5 miles west to Deer Park trail, DP ~1.5 miles west to East Mesa FR, then EMFR all the way back to Hwy 79.

    Using the shortest route, this loop is about 26 miles. Of course, it can be ridden in either direction. Word of warning, that stretch through Pine Mtn, Indian Creek and Deer Park trails has some of the worst tick activity I've ever been in.

    Last Saturday I did the Indian Creek Trail that merges with Upper Noble Canyon and it was pretty cool because you can just ride up Pine Creek Road and do it again and again, little 5-minute downhill loop there on the Noble trail. Next time I'll try the Pine Mountain Trail from the gravel parking lot to the north.

    Why park 4 miles away from the Pine Mountain trail? Why not just park at the gravel lot and then start the ride? Is it because of not having the Adventure pass?
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    Quote Originally Posted by richj8990 View Post
    Why park 4 miles away from the Pine Mountain trail? Why not just park at the gravel lot and then start the ride? Is it because of not having the Adventure pass?
    Assuming that was directed at my post you quoted, I wasn't saying park 4 miles away and ride pavement to Pine Mtn, I was saying ride there using (for example) part of the route in post #3, but instead of turning back at the Lucky 5 ranch gate, continue south on Sunrise Hwy to the Pine Mtn TR.
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    Quote Originally Posted by richj8990 View Post
    Last Saturday I did the Indian Creek Trail that merges with Upper Noble Canyon and it was pretty cool because you can just ride up Pine Creek Road and do it again and again, little 5-minute downhill loop there on the Noble trail. Next time I'll try the Pine Mountain Trail from the gravel parking lot to the north.

    Why park 4 miles away from the Pine Mountain trail? Why not just park at the gravel lot and then start the ride? Is it because of not having the Adventure pass?
    When I lived in SoCal, I used to park at Penny Pines, ride down to pioneer mail and pine mountain, chmpagne pass, down IC, back up, up Noble, and then all around BLT. I liked parking at Penny Pines because I ended the ride there, and it was also mid-point and a source for water. I could just get more water or snacks from my car.


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    Quote Originally Posted by cjsb View Post
    When I lived in SoCal, I used to park at Penny Pines, ride down to pioneer mail and pine mountain, chmpagne pass, down IC, back up, up Noble, and then all around BLT. I liked parking at Penny Pines because I ended the ride there, and it was also mid-point and a source for water. I could just get more water or snacks from my car.

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    That’s a great way to go about it although you miss all of lower Noble.
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    Quote Originally Posted by DIRTJUNKIE View Post
    That’s a great way to go about it although you miss all of lower Noble.
    Yeah, it was plan b if I wasn't shuttling or climbing up. I would say it became plan A in practice.

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    Quote Originally Posted by the one ring View Post
    Assuming that was directed at my post you quoted, I wasn't saying park 4 miles away and ride pavement to Pine Mtn, I was saying ride there using (for example) part of the route in post #3, but instead of turning back at the Lucky 5 ranch gate, continue south on Sunrise Hwy to the Pine Mtn TR.

    OK I misunderstood, you are coming from the South/West in 'real' Cuyamaca and going to the South part of the Pine Mountain Trail. I thought you started from the East and rode West on the Sunrise Highway 4 miles to the North part of the trail.

    Penny Pines is OK to start but still a lot of dead blackened trees, kinda spooky there, looks like a medieval film set.

    South Noble Canyon is a bit much for me and my 26-27 inch tires lol. North part is better for my XC bike.
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    Quote Originally Posted by richj8990 View Post
    Penny Pines is OK to start but still a lot of dead blackened trees, kinda spooky there, looks like a medieval film set.

    South Noble Canyon is a bit much for me and my 26-27 inch tires lol. North part is better for my XC bike.
    I usually do my BLT / Upper Noble rides starting at Penny Pines. I've never ridden the section of Indian Creek between upper Noble and Pine Mountain trails. I can tell you that the section of Indian Creek going West from the Pine Mountain junction has bits of lower Noble-like chunk.

    Dead trees sadden me, but I'm pretty used to them. I've hiked the PCT from the US-MX border to I-80 and you can barely go a day without hiking through a burn or beetle-kill area. What really gets me down is remembering how Cuyamaca was before the 2003 fire.
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    Lot's of great loops to be had in Cuyamaca. We live in Julian so we tend to start on the north side either at Fages Monument or by the entrance to the old Telloch (spelling?) ranch.

    Often times I will ride into the Lagunas via the trail that skirts S-2 then enter pine mountain trail from near Pioneer mail (utilizing the old sunrise hwy). Indian crick to Nobel to big laguna recreation area and then down to penny pines then part highway, part trail back to the start point.

    On a sad note it appears that the head honcho at Cuyamaca has pretty much shut down the volunteer patrols and trail building staff. No more poker ride in the fall and the trail worker volunteers have moved on to working the Mt. Laguna area. He has pissed off a lot of really good people.
    My brain went from "you probably shouldn't say that" to WTF!

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    Quote Originally Posted by richwolf View Post
    Lot's of great loops to be had in Cuyamaca. We live in Julian so we tend to start on the north side either at Fages Monument or by the entrance to the old Telloch (spelling?) ranch.
    I've done a couple of rides starting & ending in Julian that use parts of the 50-mile Julian Death March route. I made these into roughly half the mileage by using the pavement through Pine Hills. Good for gravel biking I would think, although I only ever did these on my rigid MTB with 29x2.4 tires.

    On a sad note it appears that the head honcho at Cuyamaca has pretty much shut down the volunteer patrols and trail building staff. No more poker ride in the fall and the trail worker volunteers have moved on to working the Mt. Laguna area. He has pissed off a lot of really good people.
    Dang it. I missed the last couple of poker rides, was going to try to make this year's.
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    Quote Originally Posted by richwolf View Post
    Lot's of great loops to be had in Cuyamaca. We live in Julian so we tend to start on the north side either at Fages Monument or by the entrance to the old Telloch (spelling?) ranch.

    Often times I will ride into the Lagunas via the trail that skirts S-2 then enter pine mountain trail from near Pioneer mail (utilizing the old sunrise hwy). Indian crick to Nobel to big laguna recreation area and then down to penny pines then part highway, part trail back to the start point.

    On a sad note it appears that the head honcho at Cuyamaca has pretty much shut down the volunteer patrols and trail building staff. No more poker ride in the fall and the trail worker volunteers have moved on to working the Mt. Laguna area. He has pissed off a lot of really good people.
    That’s unfortunate regarding the Cuyamaca patrol and the poker rides. I loved that poker ride. At the raffles I won an apple pie, a shimano shirt, a tailgate cover for the bikes. On one of the poker rides near top of soapstone there was a swarm of bees and riders were getting stung. I had bees in my helmet just stinging me in the head but I just kept riding, stopping would have been much worse. I have some great memories of that place.


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    Cuyamaca trails

    Wrong thread sorry, one too many Detour IPA


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    Quote Originally Posted by cjsb View Post
    …I won an apple pie, a shimano shirt, a tailgate cover for the bikes … I had bees in my helmet just stinging me in the head … I have some great memories of that place.
    One of these things is not like the other… lol
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    Quote Originally Posted by the one ring View Post
    One of these things is not like the other… lol
    so true, but great thing is the pie was great, still wear the shirt, and the tailgate protector is still sitting in the closet used only a couple of times for stuffing the bike inside the car.

    there was something for everyone at that raffle.


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