Trails in Santee (stowe) and getting a pass from MCAS?- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Trails in Santee (stowe) and getting a pass from MCAS?

    Hello,

    It has been a long while since I have been on the trails as I had gotten a road bike, and entertained some other endeavors (also I got demoralized from all the take aways at MTRP area. IT used to be so nice and now it is all gone. However now it the time I want to get back in. I live right near MTRP, and I assume that area is a bust for riding. I remember the days when I could ride my bike from around the Lakes, all the way into Sycamore and Martha's.

    When I get my pass, is there an entry from the Santee side, or is that pending the master plan and development? Is there anything I can do that is decent from where I live without having to hitch my bike on my car? If not, what recommendations are there for me to drive to? I understand Black Mtn is getting nice? Not sure how that would be, I just remember a long walking trail that goes way up the mountain with hikers and in no way suitable for mtb, but maybe I am thinking of a different trail.

    Thank you!

  2. #2
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    From the Santee side, HomeFed has allowed bike access through its property from the end of Fanita road, connecting through to Stowe Trail on MCAS property. Once you have your permit you can then connect through to Sycamore as before. You just can't ride in the west side of Santee Lakes. The route HomeFed allows is on the East Side.

  3. #3
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    So is it a nice trail now? How far can I go to check it out before I get the permit?

    Thank you so much!

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    Getting the pass is easy. Go to the east gate (take Miramar Way off of I-15), tell the guard you're going to Pass & Decal which is immediately to the right (north).

    You can bring a copy of the permit application filled out (available here -> https://www.miramar.marines.mil/Resources/StoweTrail/). You don't need to fill out sections 25-28 (employment & work hours). For sec. 14 they only asked for my driver's license. Don't bother filling out the liability waiver until you get there, they want you to sign it in person.

    There's a gated entrance at the end of Fanita Rd. and you go north until you see signs for Stowe Trail pointing off to the west. This will soon double back a bit south, crossing a creek bed until you see a whole bunch of signs for Stowe Trail and others basically stating you're entering MCAS property and you need a pass. Here's a pic from that spot (signs are off to the right):



    The trail goes north from there and is frequently marked until you get to the boundary of MCAS property near Goodan Ranch.
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    Quote Originally Posted by the one ring View Post
    Getting the pass is easy. Go to the east gate (take Miramar Way off of I-15), tell the guard you're going to Pass & Decal which is immediately to the right (north).

    You can bring a copy of the permit application filled out (available here -> https://www.miramar.marines.mil/Resources/StoweTrail/). You don't need to fill out sections 25-28 (employment & work hours). For sec. 14 they only asked for my driver's license. Don't bother filling out the liability waiver until you get there, they want you to sign it in person.

    There's a gated entrance at the end of Fanita Rd. and you go north until you see signs for Stowe Trail pointing off to the west. This will soon double back a bit south, crossing a creek bed until you see a whole bunch of signs for Stowe Trail and others basically stating you're entering MCAS property and you need a pass. Here's a pic from that spot (signs are off to the right):



    The trail goes north from there and is frequently marked until you get to the boundary of MCAS property near Goodan Ranch.
    For anybody who hasn't seen this news story yet, the Marines are going to be stepping up enforcement out on the fringes of the base property. If you're going to ride the Stowe Trail, it would be best to get the permit.

    https://www.nbcsandiego.com/news/loc...560845421.html

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by mantrain View Post
    So is it a nice trail now? How far can I go to check it out before I get the permit?
    It isn't worth a visit without a permit. Even with a permit, it is only worth it to pass through. Much of the singletrack we used to ride in there got wiped out completely by storms a few winters ago. The "trail" just south of the Sycamore gate is pretty much cobble strewn doubletrack if I recall. I believe there is still singletrack on the east side that can be ridden, but I haven't tried to go through there in years. Maybe someone else can comment on that.

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    Quote Originally Posted by evdog View Post
    It isn't worth a visit without a permit. Even with a permit, it is only worth it to pass through. Much of the singletrack we used to ride in there got wiped out completely by storms a few winters ago. The "trail" just south of the Sycamore gate is pretty much cobble strewn doubletrack if I recall. I believe there is still singletrack on the east side that can be ridden, but I haven't tried to go through there in years. Maybe someone else can comment on that.
    All of this is true. That east side single track is not marked as trail, though -- the canyon floor road / creek bed is unambiguously marked every few dozen yards.

    There is a bit of the old single track on the southern end of the marked trail, near where the old Santee switchbacks ended. It starts where I took that pic above and goes up maybe 1/4 to 1/2 mile until it intersects the road. It's part of the official trail.

    BTW in that article that ElTortoise posted, they mention that the trail along the west side of the lakes has yet to be signed, which tells me there should eventually be an access to Stowe from the new development at Mast & Medina.
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    Quote Originally Posted by the one ring View Post
    BTW in that article that ElTortoise posted, they mention that the trail along the west side of the lakes has yet to be signed, which tells me there should eventually be an access to Stowe from the new development at Mast & Medina.
    That is the plan. The access through HomeFed's Fanita property is only supposed to be temporary. The holdups for the route on the west side of the lake was first construction of the community there, and second there are some parcels of private land that the Stowe Trail crosses that need to be acquired. The County (city?) are trying to acquire them but I'm sure that takes time.

  9. #9
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    I checked it out yesterday, I still do not have a pass so I could not go that far in. I rode to Fanita end then I saw a gate where I had ti lift my bike up and over (is that correct?)

    I rode about a mile in then turned around. Where does the part start where you need the pass? and how far does the trail go ultimately? Can I take it all the way to Sycamore?

    THANK YOU!

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    Quote Originally Posted by mantrain View Post
    I checked it out yesterday, I still do not have a pass so I could not go that far in. I rode to Fanita end then I saw a gate where I had ti lift my bike up and over (is that correct?)I rode about a mile in then turned around. Where does the part start where you need the pass? and how far does the trail go ultimately? Can I take it all the way to Sycamore?THANK YOU!
    That gate is the correct starting place.

    From the gate ride north about 1.9 miles and then you should see a "Stowe Trail" sign which points to the left/west. Take that left split and go another ~0.4 miles where you'll head off towards some trees, then double back south, and shortly cross a creek bed to a single track junction near a dead oak tree (see my pic in an earlier post). To the right/west are a bunch of signs that collectively mark the beginning of the trail on MCAS property.

    From there if you follow the signed trail north it will take you all the way to Goodan Ranch.
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  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by evdog View Post
    It isn't worth a visit without a permit. Even with a permit, it is only worth it to pass through. Much of the singletrack we used to ride in there got wiped out completely by storms a few winters ago. The "trail" just south of the Sycamore gate is pretty much cobble strewn doubletrack if I recall. I believe there is still singletrack on the east side that can be ridden, but I haven't tried to go through there in years. Maybe someone else can comment on that.

    Yeah but there are really only two ways to get to the North part, as in around the Ranger Station if you start riding from Fanita or Magnolia (from the South). Personally I don't love the North part (a lot of others do like it), but there is exactly one really cool trail going back South. To go North there is the Stowe Trail and then there is Clark Canyon. The only other way is to park on the North side either off I-67 (East) or by Scripps/Poway (Northwest), or do the extremely rocky ridge fire road on the East side to the dirt parking lot, or to really tempt fate and do the West ridge fire road that's 100% inside military property. The two reasonable ways are the Stowe Trail and Clark Canyon.

    The end of Clark Canyon is pretty rough, very overgrown, I've done it a few times and the Stowe Trail is a lot easier. Two guys that rode up Clark with me a couple of months ago decided to avoid the Stowe Trail because of the Marine factor, I said well OK but the end of this other canyon is pretty rough. They didn't say anything, first time they tried it, they were on the way to Martha's on the North side. We get 95% to the end, I turn around and prepare to go back down Clark, I look back and hear one of them complaining that they can't get through the brush. I warned them! It's really slow going. So the Stowe Trail is really to get to the North side of things if you didn't park there.

    Just my opinion, and again I'd feel really bad if someone was caught on base property, but my rule is that if there is a helicopter in the area, especially a green one, don't ride the Stowe at all w/o a permit. If not, well, some people take their chances. Sometimes life isn't all about carefully typing on a computer in the safety of your home. Anyone who has been caught there has been extremely unlucky, there are all kinds of people that go down that canyon, not just mountain bikers. Hell, families walk on that trail, are the Marines going to arrest them? Having said that, there was a helicopter last Sunday afternoon 5:30 PM 10/13/2019 so I did Clark instead. And yes they were looking down at me, where I was going. Use your discretion. I haven't done Stowe in 2-3 months, I'm a bit wary about it too w/o a permit. But again that trail can get crowded on the weekends with hikers and I've never heard of the military harassing them.

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    Quote Originally Posted by richj8990 View Post
    Yeah but there are really only two ways to get to the North part, as in around the Ranger Station if you start riding from Fanita or Magnolia (from the South). Personally I don't love the North part (a lot of others do like it), but there is exactly one really cool trail going back South. To go North there is the Stowe Trail and then there is Clark Canyon. The only other way is to park on the North side either off I-67 (East) or by Scripps/Poway (Northwest), or do the extremely rocky ridge fire road on the East side to the dirt parking lot, or to really tempt fate and do the West ridge fire road that's 100% inside military property. The two reasonable ways are the Stowe Trail and Clark Canyon.

    The end of Clark Canyon is pretty rough, very overgrown, I've done it a few times and the Stowe Trail is a lot easier. Two guys that rode up Clark with me a couple of months ago decided to avoid the Stowe Trail because of the Marine factor, I said well OK but the end of this other canyon is pretty rough. They didn't say anything, first time they tried it, they were on the way to Martha's on the North side. We get 95% to the end, I turn around and prepare to go back down Clark, I look back and hear one of them complaining that they can't get through the brush. I warned them! It's really slow going. So the Stowe Trail is really to get to the North side of things if you didn't park there.

    Just my opinion, and again I'd feel really bad if someone was caught on base property, but my rule is that if there is a helicopter in the area, especially a green one, don't ride the Stowe at all w/o a permit. If not, well, some people take their chances. Sometimes life isn't all about carefully typing on a computer in the safety of your home. Anyone who has been caught there has been extremely unlucky, there are all kinds of people that go down that canyon, not just mountain bikers. Hell, families walk on that trail, are the Marines going to arrest them? Having said that, there was a helicopter last Sunday afternoon 5:30 PM 10/13/2019 so I did Clark instead. And yes they were looking down at me, where I was going. Use your discretion. I haven't done Stowe in 2-3 months, I'm a bit wary about it too w/o a permit. But again that trail can get crowded on the weekends with hikers and I've never heard of the military harassing them.
    There is one other alternative. Starting from the top of High Anxiety, do the nasty hike-a-bike up the hill and follow the ridge lines to Sycamore/Goodan. It's not a legal trail until you get onto the preserve property, lots of climb/descend in loose cobblestones, and it gets miserably hot in the summer.

    Seriously, the easiest thing to do is just suck it up, get the Stowe trail permit and ride the Stowe trail. You're in and out with permit in hand in about a half hour. As long as you're a U.S citizen and don't have any felony criminal convictions, getting the permit should be no problem other than the minor inconvenience of a trip to the base.

    As for the helicopters, the Sheriff, San Diego Fire and at least one flight school trains/practices back in that area pretty regularly. If it's not obviously a military aircraft, I wouldn't worry too much.
    Trails in Santee (stowe) and getting a pass from MCAS?-santeealtroutetosycamorepreserve.jpg

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    Quote Originally Posted by ElTortoise View Post
    There is one other alternative. Starting from the top of High Anxiety, do the nasty hike-a-bike up the hill and follow the ridge lines to Sycamore/Goodan. It's not a legal trail until you get onto the preserve property, lots of climb/descend in loose cobblestones, and it gets miserably hot in the summer.

    Seriously, the easiest thing to do is just suck it up, get the Stowe trail permit and ride the Stowe trail. You're in and out with permit in hand in about a half hour. As long as you're a U.S citizen and don't have any felony criminal convictions, getting the permit should be no problem other than the minor inconvenience of a trip to the base.

    As for the helicopters, the Sheriff, San Diego Fire and at least one flight school trains/practices back in that area pretty regularly. If it's not obviously a military aircraft, I wouldn't worry too much.
    Good post. I've done that East ridge road, except coming South, from the top of Cardiac. Good interval training on the climbs, but otherwise hard to recommend as an alternative to a quick trip to MCAS for a Stowe pass.

    Helicopters are also used for periodic power line inspections, flying sort of low so it might look like they are patrolling, but they're not marine helos.

    I would be super surprised if I saw a military helicopter patrolling that area for trespassers. That's an expensive operation compared to a few MPs on ATVs.
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    Anyone have any good maps of this trail that show what does and does not need a permit?

    Some great info in here guys, thanks for the contributions.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Klurejr View Post
    Anyone have any good maps of this trail that show what does and does not need a permit?

    Some great info in here guys, thanks for the contributions.
    Here's a Google Earth view from https://www.miramar.marines.mil/Resources/StoweTrail/

    Trails in Santee (stowe) and getting a pass from MCAS?-website_map_aerial.jpg

    Yellow needs permit. Everything on the left of the red boundary is MCAS property.

    The lower green trail is what I described in post #10. The upper green trail is still Stowe but you're now about 100-200 yards from the South Goodan Ranch gate.
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    man looking at that makes one wonder if it would not just be easier for the Military to re-draw the boundaries to start 30 feet up the slopes on the west side of that canyon and make the rest city/county property...
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    Quote Originally Posted by Klurejr View Post
    man looking at that makes one wonder if it would not just be easier for the Military to re-draw the boundaries to start 30 feet up the slopes on the west side of that canyon and make the rest city/county property...
    County Supervisor Dianne Jacob has offered the Dept. of Defense fair market value for exactly what you suggest. A deal was actually drafted and agreed upon. A new Marine Commandant took over and reneged on the agree upon deal. Access to the Stowe Trail right now is temporary, the privilege can be revoked at any time, without any reason.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Klurejr View Post
    man looking at that makes one wonder if it would not just be easier for the Military to re-draw the boundaries to start 30 feet up the slopes on the west side of that canyon and make the rest city/county property...
    That common sense and logical thinking has no place here.

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    FWIW got my Stowe Trail pass the other day, took like 10-15 minutes.
    Which made me think, why can't they offer a "Oak Canyon/Mr. Toads" pass, or a "3 barrels/Tractor tread" pass? Post up the hours/days live fire is happening and trail access is prohibited.
    I fish San Clemente Island from a private boat. When the Navy is doing drills, and needs to close down a portion of the island, they send out a notice to mariners.
    Seems logical

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    Quote Originally Posted by bigpondonly View Post
    FWIW got my Stowe Trail pass the other day, took like 10-15 minutes.
    Which made me think, why can't they offer a "Oak Canyon/Mr. Toads" pass, or a "3 barrels/Tractor tread" pass? Post up the hours/days live fire is happening and trail access is prohibited.
    I fish San Clemente Island from a private boat. When the Navy is doing drills, and needs to close down a portion of the island, they send out a notice to mariners.
    Seems logical
    Perhaps you are overlooking the difference between the US Navy, and its' subsidiary, the USMC.

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    Can one get a permit on Sundays to ride this trail?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Funoutside View Post
    Can one get a permit on Sundays to ride this trail?
    I think you can. It's the vehicle registration office so it should be open Sunday. Just go to the gate at MCAS Miramar on Miramar Way, tell the sentry you're there for a Stowe Trail permit and they'll direct you to where you need to go. It speeds things up to have the application filled out before hand. You need to sign the liablilty release waiver in their presence. Here's the link for what you need:

    https://www.miramar.marines.mil/Resources/StoweTrail/

    Contrary to what the web page says, you now get the permit right away. It no longer takes 10 days.

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