Norcal going Socal- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Norcal going Socal

    Looking for some advice on good local SoCal living and riding. Goal is to be about 1.5 hours outside of downtown LA, won't be doing the drive much but need to be closer.

    Lived in the bay for a while, Demo, USC and Pacifica were among my favorite areas to ride. Moved to the sierras where places like Downieville, Grouse Ridge and Truckee became my local favorites but now it's looking like we might need to migrate south for a while.

    I currently ride from my door and can be on trails in about 10 minutes of pedaling or less. Living in a small town, enjoy that vibe, lots of riders and outdoor rec. Any recommendations would be helpful

  2. #2
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    Big Bear Lake? On a good day LA is a little over 1.5 hour away. Much more that that on normal traffic days though.
    3 bike parks within a half hour, miles of trails with much more being built. A great biking community with rides every day of the week during the riding season which is usually late march thru early november.
    EXODUX Jeff

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    Ventura/Ojai looks to have lots of open spaces. The big bear/lake arrowhead area could be good if you are ok with snow. Temecula has good access to trails and is still close enough to LA.


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    Mt. Wilson, Verdugo Mountains, Mt Lowe are some popular spots in the LA area. In Orange County, which is about 1 hour away with lite traffic there is the Aliso Cayon/woods area. Trail Forks, MTB, Project, & local YouTubers can be very helpful wrt learning about trails & if they are for you or not.

  5. #5
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    Ventura County, Orange County and Big Bear are not 1.5 hours from Downtown LA unless there is ZERO Traffic, try more like 2 hours. I used to live in Ventura and commute into the Miracle Mile district, was 2 hours of windshield time one way.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Klurejr View Post
    Ventura County, Orange County and Big Bear are not 1.5 hours from Downtown LA unless there is ZERO Traffic, try more like 2 hours. I used to live in Ventura and commute into the Miracle Mile district, was 2 hours of windshield time one way.
    Wait, what? Every time I drive from Pt. Loma to LAX it takes right around 2 hours.

    Except when it takes 4.5 hours.

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  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Klurejr View Post
    Ventura County, Orange County and Big Bear are not 1.5 hours from Downtown LA unless there is ZERO Traffic, try more like 2 hours. I used to live in Ventura and commute into the Miracle Mile district, was 2 hours of windshield time one way.
    Commute time will be flexible I'd probably opt for way early or way late, I know I've been in traffic at 1am on a weekday down there...

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    It can take 1.5 hours to get to downtown LA from LA....

    Regarding orange county, I grew up right by whiting ranch, and it is still possible to be on trails just 5 min from your door. But if you like the small town vibe, stay away. It is largely strip malls, chain restaurants and big malls trying to take your money. There is a reason my parents come down to meet me in San Diego when they want to get something good to eat to celebrate something.


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    1.5 hours from LA is almost impossible to predict unless you leave your house at 5am on a Sunday. There are no light traffic times anymore, only times that suck or really suck. I live in South OC, and occasionally work in LA, Glendale, and Lake Arrowhead. It's only 50 miles from my house to LA, but if I have a meeting it's easier to leave super early and just work at a coffeee shop instead of sitting on the freeway. The drive up and down the mountain to Lake Arrowhead can be an easy, peaceful drive or a white-knuckler--especially when the fog rolls in. From my home I can be mountain biking at Whiting, Aliso, or Laguna Canyon in about 15 minutes and also have some fun less-known trails 5 minutes from home. If you can afford it invest in an electric car so you can drive in the carpool lane--it saves me hours. For a small town vibe in the middle of OC check out Lake Forest.

  10. #10
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    Hahaha good old lake forest. My home town! It is definitely more small town vibe than others but I remember as a kid when el toro rd was only one lane each way, that was a real small town vibe.


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    I agree that Big Bear Lake is worth considering, if you can accept being limited to a riding season.

    If riding all year long is a must, I would look at the communities in the Conejo Valley, like Newbury Park for example. Hard to beat this area for quality and variety of trails you can pedal to from your door.
    Last edited by JimN; 01-22-2020 at 04:03 PM. Reason: spelling

  12. #12
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    Big Bear certainly could have a limited riding season and most years it does. A few years back we were riding well into January, this year we got a lot of snow in November.
    The trails/ roads on the east end usually are the first to open and I rode there a few times in December.
    Riding down in Lucerne Valley, which is within 30 minutes of BB is a riding option with a lot of high desert single track. Several areas on the front side(Redlands, Yucaipa, Highland,etc) has some great options within a hour drive. Basically, we really aren't bothered by the weather and when spring summer and fall comes around, we have weather that is practically unchallenged in So. Cal.
    EXODUX Jeff

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by JimN View Post
    I would look at the communities in the Conejo Valley, like Newbury Park for example. Hard to beat this area for quality and variety of trails you can pedal to from your door.
    For your purposes, this is a good place to be. And a little ride north if you want to ride bigger, longer trails. Those can be found in the Ojai area.

  14. #14
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    Piggybacking on this thread.

    After spending my entire life in the bay area, my wife and I are likely moving to socal in 2 years. We loved the small town feel of Fremont but it's no longer there and the vibe has changed dramatically in ~5 years. We're currently in Oakland but it's dangerous and everyone seems miserable on the trails/in public. Marin is too expensive.

    We're looking primarily at South OC (aliso viejo, laguna niguel, san juan capistrano) for public schools + access to mountain biking + houses under $1MM.

    We're open to SD but it seems like the mtb is pretty lacking. Ojai sounded perfect with its small town vibe/charm but the public schools seem to be trash based on a quick review. Pasadena is the same cost as bay area but has a nice vibe.

    Are we thinking about these high level summaries correctly? Are there cities/areas we're not considering? Where would you end up if you could waive a magic wand? Our jobs are remote so location is flexible.

  15. #15
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    Norcal going Socal

    South orange county is a nice, safe place that would be great especially if you have kids and want good schools. There are large wilderness parks with trail access but most of it isn’t spectacular(this may depend on what you like riding). It was really cool growing up and being able to leave the house and be on trails in less than 5 min.

    San diego does have good trails, our big problem is that developers keep taking away more and more of them. Culturally sd has more to do and each neighborhood has a unique feel compared to the way orange county feels. Where I live is a 10 minute pedal to the trails.

    If small town feel and trail access are big priorities, temecula and murrieta would be worth looking into. Housing is much cheaper there, they have a ton of trails and it is a smaller town feeling.

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    Going to chime in:
    Realistically, anywhere from Ventura (N) to Tustin (S) and the beach (W) to the 15 fwy (E) is not going to give you a “small town vibe”. Anyone who says so is BS-ing you. There are significantly small pockets (think Monrovia, Claremont, Cypress, Los Alamitos, Yorba Linda) that’ll fool you for a hot second, but that’s about it. Living anywhere East if the 15fwy is sorta like living in Central CA or Northern LA County (Fresno, Palmdale). LA County area sounds outside of what you’re looking for. Northern OC sounds outside go what you’re looking for. Way south OC might be a good option (South OC Tustin yo about San Clemente) then you’re in Northern San Diego.
    There is good riding in every single area mentioned above. Might not be 5 mins from your door, but you’ll get there in 20-60 mins depending on the day and time.


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    Use Google Maps during morning & evening rush hours to study traffic patterns.
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  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stumpy_Steve View Post
    Are we thinking about these high level summaries correctly? Are there cities/areas we're not considering? Where would you end up if you could waive a magic wand? Our jobs are remote so location is flexible.
    Have you looked in San Diego County at all? Good Schools and close riding in Carlsbad, Encinitas, also the inland areas of Rancho Bernardo and Poway.
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  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stumpy_Steve View Post
    here would you end up if you could waive a magic wand?
    SLO area.

    Too far North? SB

    Not SoCal enough? SJC area or North County SD

  21. #21
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    North County SD sucks, no trails here, much better in South OC or North LA. Nothing to see here, move along

    Seriously though, great riding in North County if you know where to look

  22. #22
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    Drop the small town requirement and find a place close to JPL so you have all of Mt Wilson's greatness to ride. I'm far from an expert on the area as I live 100 miles south but we ride thru some really nice, idyllic neighborhoods in the Sierra Madre/Arcadia areas when we pop off the mountain.
    Carpe Diem!!

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by k2rider1964 View Post
    Drop the small town requirement and find a place close to JPL so you have all of Mt Wilson's greatness to ride. I'm far from an expert on the area as I live 100 miles south but we ride thru some really nice, idyllic neighborhoods in the Sierra Madre/Arcadia areas when we pop off the mountain.
    Those neighborhoods are really nice.. it wouldn't be horrible living there.

    There are some serious drawbacks though. For three months straight it's unpleasantly hot. Traffic really sucks. Mixed bag in surrounding neighborhoods/cities. It's quite expensive for what you get.

    With a budget of under $1M (at any budget really) there's no question I'd be looking N or S of LA county.

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    Quote Originally Posted by EatsDirt View Post
    Those neighborhoods are really nice.. it wouldn't be horrible living there.

    There are some serious drawbacks though. For three months straight it's unpleasantly hot. Traffic really sucks. Mixed bag in surrounding neighborhoods/cities. It's quite expensive for what you get. With a budget of under $1M (at any budget really) there's no question I'd be looking N or S of LA county.
    Well, I grew up in OC and then have been in San Diego's North County the last 34 years so I know nothing about LA other than traffic is horrendous. The only time I ever went up there was to go to LAX. I have a buddy that works in Burbank and his drive to work is 21 miles but it takes him 90 minutes to get home!! I couldn't live like that. Being retired from law enforcement, I never worry much about the traffic aspect anymore which is why those neighborhoods I mentioned looked appealing. I guess I'd go crazy if I had the leave the area....one of the reasons I'm moving to Prescott.
    Carpe Diem!!

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by k2rider1964 View Post
    Well, I grew up in OC and then have been in San Diego's North County the last 34 years so I know nothing about LA other than traffic is horrendous. The only time I ever went up there was to go to LAX. I have a buddy that works in Burbank and his drive to work is 21 miles but it takes him 90 minutes to get home!! I couldn't live like that. Being retired from law enforcement, I never worry much about the traffic aspect anymore which is why those neighborhoods I mentioned looked appealing. I guess I'd go crazy if I had the leave the area....one of the reasons I'm moving to Prescott.
    Without knowing exactly where you live(d), it sounds like you've been in the some of the nicest areas IMO. They still seem to be trying to cram more houses in, but I'd imagine they rank pretty high on most quality of life indexes... and the proximity to riding doesn't suck.

    Preskit seems nice. I'm sure it'll be a refreshing change from a lot of the SoCal nonsense.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Joe Mama View Post
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    When you move to Prescott, Prescott Valley, Cottonwood, Camp Verde, etc. they will hate you at first because your'e from SoCal.
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  28. #28
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    IMHO Hands down the Calabasas / Topanga / Western Woodland Hills area. "Good deals" to be had on mid century modern homes in western Woodland Hills if that's your thing.

    Moved here two years ago. Trails right out the back door. Tons and tons of options from gravel/ XC to gnarly DH all within a few minutes of each other. Super strong riding culture. It typically takes me about 1 hour or so to get downtown when I have to.
    The bonus is that the beach is 20 minutes or so away too.

  29. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by bokdoos View Post
    IMHO Hands down the Calabasas / Topanga / Western Woodland Hills area. "Good deals" to be had on mid century modern homes in western Woodland Hills if that's your thing.

    Moved here two years ago. Trails right out the back door. Tons and tons of options from gravel/ XC to gnarly DH all within a few minutes of each other. Super strong riding culture. It typically takes me about 1 hour or so to get downtown when I have to.
    The bonus is that the beach is 20 minutes or so away too.
    Curious... where else in SoCal have you lived?

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