Peacock Flats Loop + Video

Boy have I had a great week of getting out on the trails here on Oahu. I have a pile of pictures and footage to sort through already as well as great stories to share.

Jeep trail in the Mokulēʻia Forest Reserve

Last week I did the Peacock Loop. Sometimes just referred to as Peacock Flats. It is a big ride with big views!

On the Kuaokala trail

It starts at Dillingham Airfield on Oahu’s northwest corner. You will do a paved climb up to Peacock Flats and into the Mokulēʻia Forest Reserve will you will do some ridge riding (aka ups and downs) into the the Kuaokala Forest Reserve and Game Management Area were you will pick up the Kuaokala trail some amazing bit of single track before getting back onto jeep trails and more ups and downs.

Singletrack goodness along the Kuaokala Ridge Trail
Pointing to Japan
Working my way down the Kealia trail.
Descending the Kaelia Trail

You will finish up the loop with the Kealia Trail which is a pretty serious bit of steep rugged single track that I have heard called a hiking trail that bikers sometimes ride. I was somewhere between pooped and cooked at this point in the ride which make technical riding that much more interesting. All together you will do 21.2 miles and 3,700 feet of climbing. If it is clear out, I say the price of admission is worth it. If you are a Trailforks user you can find the route here, but realize that this route over estimates the total ascent by a bunch. Here is my Strava from that ride which shows the elevation better.

Finally here is the video I put together from this day’s adventure.

Rain Friendly Kailua Ride

Last week a few of the local boys were planning on showing me the Ohana trails over on the windward side of the island. It ended up raining all night so there was a change of plans to take in some stuff that is rain friendly. When ended doing some cool stuff.

Robert giving some pointers on getting out from under the Pali highway to continue on Old Pali road to the lookout

We started off with a bit of street riding to hookup with Old Pali road which has been replaced with the Pali highway. We were soon climbing on the road that is on its ways to be reclaimed by mother nature. We had one interesting scramble where Pali highway crosses over the old road.

I knew my quads were in trouble when Eric and Mike rolled up with these bikes. (On Old Pali Road)
Regrouping on the old Pali bridge.

We regrouped at the Old Pali road bridge. When I say regroup I mean the guys waited for me to catch up at this spot. I felt pretty happy about the climb I was putting down but these guys had a couple gears I don’t have (yet).

I set some PRs for sustained time in Heart Rate Zones 4 and 5 on that climb.
I think this is my “Mommie make the bad men stop!” face.
Handing bikes over the gate

After the old bridge we made our way up to the Pali lookout with the last challenge being getting the bikes over the locked gate. If under a certain girth you can squeeze between the gate and the rock face to get through. I just managed to squeeze through, but I had to do an an exhale 🙂

At Pali Lookout

I have been to the Pali lookout quite a few times but it had always been via a car so this time felt special considering the views were well earned.

Mike showing off mad road skills by taking photos while cruising down the road.

After Pali Lookout we took Pali highway down back down into Kailua where we took a series of streets over into a forest. We followed along some old dirt roads and some trails that follow along an irrigation system.

Hey Guys, its this way!!

This was off the beaten path stuff and it had been sometime since of these options had been taken. There was some hike-a-biking done. There were quite a few bike hand ups and hand offs combined with some ropes along the trail to help you with the hike-a-biking. My arms were pretty pumped by the time we got we got off the trail.

“Exploration along the irrigation trails”

The irrigation trails bought out us onto a forest road called OGR (standing for Old Government Road) and a sustained downhill. Wet clayish soil, actively raining and downhill. Yep this is what my bike with its aggressive tires that I had been hearing churning against the old pavement of much of the climbs today was ready to get to work. I zipped down that section and was able to get my first (and only) photos of the guys coming towards me.

On OGR (Old Government Road)

These guys have a system and Mike texted ahead and had coffees waiting for us at a local shop when we rolled back into town. Robert, Mike and Eric were quite tour guides on this day. Rain, Mud, Hike-A-Bikes….yeah it was great day to be out on a bike!

(The photos with me in frame were provided by Mike.)

Hawaii – Ka’ena Point + Video

I have a work gig in Oahu, Hawaii for pretty much all of April. Getting ready for this trip I decided that my it was time to upgrade my luggage. My Trico hardshell travel case has already been long in the tooth and it was time to retire it after 16 years of service. I bought a the EVOC Travel Bike Bag Pro with the internal stand. What a difference this bag made. It was so much easier to wheel it around the terminal and getting out to the rental car.

EVOC bag all packed up.

After getting into Hawaii, I spent the afternoon checking into my accommodations and making the first run to stock up the fridge and cupboards. I was sacked out pretty early. The body clock was off which had me up pretty darn early. I decided to make use of the time and got the bike put back together just about at sunrise.

O-Damn Early Start

After a having a leisurely morning that included a nap I had to get going. I do not know the reason way, but often times a three hour time shift seems to hit me worse than a 12hr+ shift does. Maybe it is a matter of expectations. Either way it was time for a shake down ride with the bike and maybe shake off some jet lag.

The bike is ready to roll

I have been out near Ka’ena Point numerous times but have not taken the old road/trail out to and around the point before. I had read that some vehicle break-ins had occurred right at the trail head so I took some local advice and parked at Dillingham Airfield about 1.5 miles short of the trailhead which is considered less prone to that type of thing.

Happy Bike

The cruise along the road was pretty darn easy and I was soon out on the old road. Trailforks has the orginal old road shown as the trail but there are numerous trails and path between the original road and the ocean. On the way out to the point, pretty much any of the paths/trail closer to the ocean will be more interesting than the old road. It did not take me long to figure that out. The scenery was incredible.

Out at Ka’ena Point

The tip of the point has a long heavy duty gauge fence fit for keeping out vehicles and just about any land critter without opposable thumbs. Once in this area there are two major paths with one being much further out on the point than the other. The trail going out further out on the point gets really sandy and you will end up pushing your bike. On your way out its is worth it to do a little pushing to see the views that you will not get otherwise.

Trail is in the upper left

Once around point the two trails rejoin and you will soon go through the other end of the significant fence. The road now is much more interesting and narrow. There is a washout of the road about a couple hundred yards after the fence but there is a foot scramble trail that goes around it. Don’t worry if you miss it, When you run out of road, turn around and go back about 50 yards or so. After the washout the old dirt road continues to impress with amazing views right along the ocean.

Pretty killer scenery along this old road

At around 7.4 miles (From Dillingham Airfield) the dirt comes out to a gate and transitions to pavement. There are a handful of options to extend your ride from here but this is where I decided to turn around today. The ride back was just as amazingly beautiful. Out the near the point I did take the route that stays closer to the mountain and further from the point. Once around the “corner” I had quite a hard breeze in my face which caused a bit more work than on the out portion of this route. This is most likely the flattest trail you will find on the island and it well earns its “green” trail rating. It should not however be overlooked. This is an amazingly beautiful XC trail that provides a unique and quality outdoor experience.

Not a bad start to a work trip at all. It was a great day to be on the dirt (and lava rocks)!

UPDATE: Added the video I shot on this day

Recovery….DONE!

I really enjoyed being back back on the bike for the last two months.   I started out sticking to tamer trails as I was still dealing with some sternum discomfort related to the wires used to initially close up my chest.   When the trails got chattery, it was uncomfortable enough to be distracting.   Not where you want your head when getting into techy bits.

My heart surgeon advised me the discomfort was common beyond the 3-month mark with it typically subsiding by the 6-month mark.  In some cases people have mild discomfort well beyond that.

The discomfort has indeed been getting better.  I am pretty sure that early on after my return to the bike there was a fair amount of just building up my tolerance to the discomfort.   

Nice to ride some tech.

Over the last few weeks, I have been riding more technical trails and getting more comfortable on them.  The chest discomfort is nearly gone and no longer a distraction.

I don’t quite have my technical chops back yet and I know its mental thing about not wanting to deal with a superman endo to the chest. I’m sure that will come back as well.

Photobomber Alert!

Enough on recovery, I’m Calling It DONE!

While out riding with Steve last week we played around a rock formation for 15 or 20 minutes.   We collectively rolled up on the entry rock about half a dozen times before noticing a sizable rattlesnake warming up underneath it.  We both kinda wigged out for a bit as we had been scrambling all over the rock formation looking for lines to ride.

Another Spectator

We then took a closer look around and saw another rattler hanging out on the otherside of the same rock.   It was time to call it a day for playing on the “Snake Eyes” rock.

Steve playing on “Snake Eyes”

Tasty Burritos closed out a great day to be on the trails.

Hurricane Cliffs Vintage Video

Here is the latest of the vintage pre-GoPro MTB to be migrated over to YouTube. This is of the Hurricane Cliffs Loop which is comprised of the Gould’s Rim, JEM and Hurricane Rim Trails. This is a great and sizeable XC loop in the area. I have not done this route in over a decade mostly because of the build up of new trails JEM trail area you can pile up a bunch of miles in that area alone. Since this video was shot Over The Edge Hurricane was established and they helped to create a trail that connects from town up to Gould’s Rim. I’m sure that trail is going to be seeing some action this weekend as the Hurricane MTB Festival is going on now. I did not sign up for this festival this year as I did not think I would be recovered from the heart valve replacement well enough by now but after this past week’s riding I think I probably would have been able to handle the this trail system along with most of the other goodies in the area. Here are a few other pictures from the area.

New Bike/Frame

So I have been riding around a killer Santa Cruz Bronson (Gen 1) for a handful of years now. Its a singletrack carving machine, excellent for climbing and holds its own in the chunky bits. I love it! I am often an in-between medium and large size bike guy. The Bronson was a medium and I probalbly should have went with a large. I really did not want to mess with a new bike at this point because all of them seem to be longer, lower and slacker. I wanted a tweak not a huge change.

New Donor Bike

So I have been looking for a large gen1 frame of the same color for a while at a good price. Nada, its been all complete bikes. I was pretty stoked when I found a complete bike with the frame I wanted at a good price. It was more than I wanted to pay for a frame but supply and demand rules. I did get some nice components and spares out of the deal.

New and Old Bike
Boy was I amazed how much my frame had faded over the course of the adventures we had been on together. (Old bike in front)

I merged the best bits of the two bikes onto the new frame. I stayed with my wheelset(stans rims, Chris King hubs), drivetrain(1×11 30-50), Hope E3 brakes, CCDB air shock, Fox Transfer dropper, saddle and handlebars. Along with the frame I used the “new” bottom bracket and headset (mango color coordinated Chris King bits). I am also swapping out my Fox 34 fork and trying out the Rockshox Pike fork with the Push AC3 coil conversion.

Its time to go riding!

Cuyamaca Area CRHT

A couple of weekends ago I did a combination of hiking and biking in the Descanso and Cuyamaca area doing a bit more of my ongoing project to assess all of the California Riding and Hiking Trail segments in the county.  I have updated the interactive map on my page to reflect some of the details.

(Disclaimer: I’m going to ramble in this post and make some references you may have to follow along with on my site and other linked documents. This post is just as much notes for my own use later as it is something to share.)

A good portion of the CRHT has been lost to road construction over the years in the Descanso area. The trail still exists leaving Descanso to the north and all the way up through Cuyamaca Rancho State Park. Unfortunately a large majority of it is off limits to bikes due to a state wilderness designation in 1982.

The State Wilderness designation inside the boundary of the State Park is an unnecessary designation as all of the preservation goals could have been achieved using other existing State Park systems administrative tools. It is my opinion that for many decades now there has been a cadre of politicians out there that view the number of acres of wilderness they gain every year as a feather in their hat.    So while the designation of this existing state park land in 1982 increased those wilderness acreage numbers, it did not protect any additional land.   It was already protected from development.   What did it do?   Well it banned cyclist access to an existing multi-use trail that was established in the 1940s.

CRHT south of Cuyamaca Rancho State Park

At the north end of Descanso Trail Road, the CRHT is once again a trail. It is a single track and mostly climbs for about 2 miles to Cuyamaca State Park and the southern boundary of one of its segments of wilderness. There is no other legal access for cyclists beyond that point. This section south of the state park is a bit over grown in spots and the tread could use some TLC n spots. The CRHT continues north as singletrack and is better maintained by the state park. After maybe 1.5 miles the CRHT comes out onto South Boundary fireroad. South Boundary fireroad is not in designated wilderness. The CRHT follows South Boundary fireroad north to the junction of Arroyo Seco Fireroad which is cherry stemmed out of the wilderness. At the end of the Arroyo Seco Fireroad the CRHT continues northward as the Fox trail which is singletrack.

The the Fox trail ascends steeply in spots to the junction of the West Mesa trail and finally the Fir trail which ends at the Fern Flat fireroad and the northern boundary of the West Mesa wilderness. This is a superb section of the backcountry in the park with incredible views both to the west and east.

Northern end of the Fir Trail (CRHT)

When the Fir trail (aka CRHT) reaches Fern Flat fireroad the CRHT turns north as the fireroad until it veers off to the east as the Azalea Glen trail. This trail is not in the wilderness but it still off limits to bike. The trail is often quite steep and would be pretty technical in many spots in the upper half. Near the bottom of the eastern flank of Cuyamaca peak the CRHT (single track at this point) splits off to the north from the Azalea Glen trail and is once again open to bikes (and named CRHT). After some meandering it then crosses HWY79 and proceeds around the west and north flanks of Stonewall Peak.

The CRHT (Fox Trail) in the West Mesa section of Wilderness

However when it get to the junction of the Los Caballos trail it becomes off-limits to bikes. Just a few years ago this section of the CRHT was open to bikes northward all the way to the Soapstone Grade fireroad. Where the CRHT joins Soapstone Grade Road it once again become open to bikes. This was the northern apex of assessment on these latest outings.

While I don’t know the whole story, I looked up the latest approved general plan for the state park and have some theories that I hope to get some clarifications on with some other people. The 2015 approved park general plan called for the expansion of several cultural and natural preserves inside the boundary of the park. It looks like the expansion of those preserves brought with it the loss of cyclist access to the CRHT in those expanded areas.

CRHT just west of HWY79

Also in the general plan were some wilderness boundary adjustment that should have opened up the Blue Ribbon trail to cyclist in the southern area of the park, but as of last weekend, the no bikes and wilderness signs are still up. It would have been really nice if the CRHT would have been cherry stemmed out of the Wilderness to restore cyclist access to this historic route that predates even the Pacific Crest Trail. This really falls into the category of bitching at this point since I did not participate in the public comment period when the revised general plan was being worked.

While I have not done my due diligence at this point to find out the whys, it looks quite a bit like the park is a bit slow to implement the portions of the approved plan that would benefit cyclists. One thing is for certain the classic Cuyamaca “Grand Loop” will never seem as grand after seeing what the loop could be if cyclists were allowed to ride the CRHT as it was intended.

Remastered Freeman Creek video

The Freeman Creek trail located in the Giant Sequoia National Monument is a pretty unique trail that drops you down through the Freeman Grove of Giant Sequoia Redwoods.   The size of these ancients of the woods will skew your perspective of big in regards to living things.   This grove is the largest grove in wilderness condition (having never been logged) outside of the Sequoia National Park further to the north.

Here are some more of my ramblings on this trail

While the Bear Creek and Camp Nelson trails see more MTB action, this is a trail that is worth checking out if have the time. (At least based the last time I rode it)

I LIKE big trees and I can not lie!

Shortly after this video was shot in 2006, the trail was severely sanitized by a trail crew using a bull-dozer.   The trail eventually eroded back into something akin to single-track.   In 2020, a wildfire went through the grove.  Some of my friends that live in the area have not been back on the trails since the fires but the area was hit pretty hard.   Wildfires are part of the lifecycle of the Giant Sequoia’s so I suspect they survived. 

At 6:18 you can really see how these trees are adept at surviving wildfires.    It is worth noting that the rider (JD) is about 6’4″ to give some perspective on the size of that trunk.

At 7:14 there is a scene of me riding on a fallen log.  The other rider on the trunk is 6′ tall.  Take note of the perspective when I start to ride back and he is standing on the trunk part and I’m about to start rolling from the base/root part.

From 8:00 until the end of the video, we are actually riding a short section of the Summit Trail (FS 31E14) on our way back to the Quaken Aspens campground where we were staying.

While the Bear Creek and Camp Nelson trails see more MTB action, this is a trail that is worth checking out if have the time. (At least based the last time I rode it)

San Diego Flume Trail

I have a new video up for the San Diego Flume Trail as well as new page on my site. This is nice little gem of a trail tucked away in El Monte valley where you might find a nice serving of Chicken Noodle Soup for the MTB Soul this time of year.

Nice scenery along the San Diego Flume Trail

I spent a few a more hours out in the El Monte Valley area this past week refreshing my memory on a couple of trails in the area. While out on the flume trail east of El Monte Park out I came across of leftover Kittle snacks.

I have added a page to my site for this trail. In the course of making the page I also added the trails in that area to the Trailforks database as well as mirroring my recommended route discussed on that site as well. I will be doing some more of that in future but that is for another day.

I also finished up a video from Nichol and I riding this trail during our camping outing at Lake Jennings.

and maybe even a find a nice serving of Chicken Noodle Soup for the MTB soul.

If you have not done the San Diego Flume trail before, it is worth taking a checking out this time of year when its exceptionally green out there. It really is an nice little gem tucked away near Lakeside.

You can get in 10 miles or so, a climb or two, a quick a hike-a-bike or two and maybe even find a nice serving of Chicken Noodle Soup for the MTB soul.

Historic San Diego Flume Trail

This past weekend, I did a “nearcation” at the Lake Jennings Campground in Lakeside. While enjoying the weekend I checked out the nearby Flume Trail. It is called the “Historic Flume Trail” in many sources the west end of it is referred to as the Helix Flume Trail. To further complicate matters there is another trail out of El Monte Park to west that is called the flume trail that only crosses over the actual Flume trail.

Sprocket surveying his “Kingdom” overlooking Lake Jennings

All of the naming up-bub aside, The Flume Trail follows along the route of the a 35-mile long wooden water flume that was completed in 1889 that brought water from Lake Cuyamaca in San Diego’s East County into the La Mesa area and beyond. The flume employed numerous cuts, several tunnels, and more than 300 wooden trestles wood to maintain a uniform fall of 4 feet, 8 inches to the mile. Two of the tunnels can be seen from along the segment of the trail we rode.

There are plenty of kiosks along the trail to provide some history of the route

The completion and filling of El Capitan Reservoir in the 1930s put an end to the flume’s usefulness, but it was plagued with issues well before that such as a trestle collapse in 1919 and just not enough water moving and evaporation. The nine million board-feet of lumber used for the flume itself and the trestles were scavenged a long time ago.

One of the ravine dips along the flume trail

If you are not staying at Lake Jennings campground like we were you will have to put in some work to get up to the flume. Wither you start at the Helix Water district end or the El Monte Park end you will have a relentless set of switchback to climb up to get the the Flume trail proper. 10-16% grade and around 400 feet of elevation to gain. Here is a route I did that involved using both the El Monte and Helix switchbacks. (I don’t recommend this route, use one or the other and do an out and back on the flume) Once up on the flume things are pretty flat except where there were trestles in those spots you will have to descend down and then back up the other side of the small ravines. There are a couple of spots that will be hike-a-bike for most folks, but they are very short.

One of the spots that most folks might do some hike-a-bike

Our effort started from the campground was easy with four miles and change from and camp out and the same back. We turned around at the Cape Horn Tunnel.

One of the Ravine Dips
Little bits like this are worth the price of admission

This section of the flume was not shown on Trailforks so I added it. This was my first time adding a trail to the site and the GPS track could use a little cleaning up but you can find it on there now. There are some other trails that need to be added as well.

El Monte Valley from along the Flume Trail