Archive for the ‘Advocacy/Trailwork’ Category

CHRT Recon in East County

September 9th, 2016 by MTBBill

I have an ongoing project of personally surveying the California Riding and Hiking Trail throughout San Diego County.  I have a page up on my site with an interactive map of San Diego’s counties’ GIS data on where the trail is/supposed to be.  I have been adding my notes on the actual placement and status of the various trail sections.   You have to point and click to see much of the pop-up data, comments and some pictures.  Its pretty much my online notes.  Last month after doing a ride out in the Cuyamaca Mountains I took the long way home that included some of the further out bit sections I had not looked at yet.   The first stop was to drive up to Julian and down Banner grade road to pick up the Chariot Canyon truck trail and then over to Rodriguez Canyon.   This is part of the Oriflamme Canyon loop route that I describe on my site.

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What I was looking for was the CRHT north of the Rodriguez Canyon truck trail.    I found it but is was not where the county GIS data said it was.   It was actually about a 1/10th of a mile west.  It appears that at some point in the past the trail was rerouted to avoid going through private just to the east the current actual trail.   The trail has seen little use but it well defined single track.  Once it rejoins the original track it looks to be an old fire road from my visual from across the ridge.

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The section of the CRHT just north of Rodriguez Canyon Truck Trail.

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Next I made my way back to Banner and then down into San Felipe Valley to scout where the trail crosses Banner Grade Road.  This area is part of the San Felipe Valley Wildlife Area managed by the CA Department of Fencing Fish and Wildlife.  This wildlife area encompasses around 17,800 acres.   The CDFW has established that the only appropriate recreation activity out here is wildlife viewing by foot traffic only, shooting the heads of quail and killing deer.    Evidently there is no room for equestrians or mountain biking to enjoy the historic CRHT that passes through this area.

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I was able to find the trail south of Banner Grade Road but it is getting a hard to follow.   The CRHT crosses Banner Grade road and proceeds across the valley on one of the dirt ranch roads.  I did find a wood CRHT makers just north of the Banner grade road and just south of the ranch road. (Its at CRHT-142A if you are following along with my CRHT page.)

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I then drove down to Scissor’s Crossing and went up San Felipe Road (County Road S2) to pickup the CRHT where it intersects this road.  I did find a post that should be a CRHT marker based on its location but the top of the post had been cut off so there was no distinctive yellow painted “cap” on the post.  This side of the property had a CDFW Wildlife area “No Trespassing” signage.   So even if you wanted to enjoy the CRHT as a hiker you would have a perplexing problem of you could enter from the south but somewhere along your northward journey you would be trespassing.    Along the north side of San Felipe Road, I quickly found CRHT marker posts paralleling the road.

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These posts were typically about 30-50 feet north of the road.    There had been a wildfire through here some time ago and I was having a tough time picking up and following the trail.  This section is also part of the San Felipe Wildlife area with the same foot traffic only or no trespassing access management scheme.  After about a couple of miles of heading northwest along the road I was unable to find any more posts.

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A few more mile up the road I started seeing the newer style CRHT markers right of the side of the road and those continued at quite regularly until where the CRHT turn away from San Felipe Road  (This is at CRHT-161A on my map) and heads up an old dirt road.   I believe this trail starts off as an easement through a bit of private property as it is well signed and easy to follow.  I did not proceed much further up the trail from there.   I will have to assess those bits further north at some other time.   The next significant road crossing is supposed to be near the junction San Felipe Road and Montezuma Valley road (County Road S22).   On a previous outing I had looked for the trail in this area but came up empty.   I came up all blanks this time as well from the truck.   Next time I’ll be out with the bike and explore in from the south were I know the trail exists.   I have done the trail north of the road junction before out through Warner Springs so that was it for this recon outing.

While I still have some miles left to look at in the county and I have not crunched the numbers yet, there is a convergence of threats for this trail developing.   It looks like the number one threat for public access and preservation of the CRHT in San Diego County is the California State public land management agencies.    Let that ruminate in your melon for a while!

Cuyamaca and the Cold Springs Trail

August 21st, 2016 by MTBBill

This past Saturday I went out to the Cuyamaca mountains to check out the new(ish)ly rerouted Cold Springs Trail.    I started out at the Sweetwater trailhead/parking lot and took the West Side singletrack up to the connector to the Park Vistor Center.  From there I turned from usual route and took the Cold Stream Trail north.

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The trail was pretty featureless but pretty through here until it got to a big oak tree on the edge of the meadow right at the junction with the singletrack connector trail over to the Green Valley Fireroad.

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The meadow must be the typical “tour” turn around point from the visitor center as the Cold Stream trail immediately became must more narrow and interesting beyond that point.

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I had not been on this section of the Cold Stream trail before and I have to say this was a nice bit of trail.

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While stopping to check out this little spot.

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I had some locals come through.  There was somewhere between two and four of them.   It was hard to tell with them zipping in and out.

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Shortly after this spot I went by several junction.  The first was the connector over to the West Mesa parking area and the second was the junction of the Cold Stream Trail and the Cold Springs Trail.   The Cold Stream trail north of her was marked “No Bikes” but the route for today was the Cold Springs trail.  Pictured above is some the trail goodness along the Cold Springs trail.

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The original Cold Springs Trail was 1.2 miles, not open to bikes and was a pretty heinous hike.   The new trail is 2.25 miles long and connects with much further up the Stonewall Creek fire road than its predecessor.  This is a most excellent replacement/reroute of the old trail.   I climbed the last bit of Stonewall Creek fire road and the at the junction with Soapstone Grade fire road I hung a right (east).  Just before I would have to drop down the grade into Green Valley I hung a left (north) onto the California Riding and Hiking Trail.

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That Oak tree in the middle of the picture on he meadow ridgeline was my destination for the day.

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I refer to this group of trees as “The Napping Oaks” because you take a break here, you may find yourself doing just that.

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A wider view of today’s turn around spot.

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While kicking back here I heard some thunder and looking over my shoulder I see that some storm clouds had developed or moved in just on the other side of the ridgeline.   Rain was not on agenda today so I thought it was pretty cool to have a little bit of weather with me on the ride.   No rain ever materialized but it was not long before got rolling again.  I pretty much retraced my path back the way I came all the way to the West Mesa parking lot connector where I crossed the road and picked up the West Side trail and took it south back to the Sweetwater parking lot.   I was a great day to be out enjoying some trails.  I spent the rest of the day doing some recon work with the truck for some of the beleaguered  and neglected sections of the CRHT out in this area of the county.  But that is another story…

Part of Tunnels Open – Semi Rant

August 21st, 2015 by MTBBill

First:  This  from San Diego City Parks and Recreation Department.

Please be advised that the trails approved by the City Council on Carmel Mountain and Del Mar Mesa will be open for use tomorrow. Maps will be posted at kiosks.

On the Del Mar Mesa map, as shown below, trails opened by the Council action are shown in black and white. Trails shown in black and red are NOT open due to private property and/or the need for Coastal Commission approval. Maps will be updated once further clearances are obtained.

For Carmel Mountain, all trails appear the same on the map and all are open.

The Council action also included biological habitat restoration on a number of areas previously used for recreational activities. Ranger staff have installed brush, signs, and fences at the access points to these locations. Please respect these access controls along with the ones installed at the Coastal Zone boundary and report any inappropriate behavior to Park Ranger staff.

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Now a bit of opinion from me:  While this progress is the culmination of a lot of work by a wide array of folks working quite diligently it also shows off some of the bureaucratic buffoonery that is all to common when multiple agencies have to work together.  It better than it was but this trail plan is a setup to foster undesired behaviors.   Where are the loops?   Tunnel 4 is the only legal ingress/egress into the tunnels and then you can only go out and back on the Deer Canyon Trail.   The California Department of Fencing Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is the primary players who would not allow for a trail to create a loop to get back from the eastern end of the Deer Canyon trail back to the Eucalyptus Grove.   This failure to manage the flow of trails users will most likely lead to undesired effects such as trail users figuring out their own way to create a loop with those trails which will further challenge the management of this area.   You can bet that when a group of folks do this they will be demonized by the very folks who help create the problem in the first place.    You know people, particularly trail users, are fairly predictable.  In many respects people are much more predictable that the array of critters these intelligent conservationist are trying to protect.  You would think they would have figured this stuff out by now.

Now my recommendation:   Like the city is asking, PLEASE do not go around any barriers, remove any of the brush, debris or tamper with the “access controls”  (What do that have squirrels with lasers attached to their head?)  that has been put up to close off the existing trails that are not going to be part of this trails system on the mesa.   I believe this would be exactly what some of the ANTI-BIKE ANTI-ACCESS folks/agencies would love to see happen.  DON’T TAKE THE BAIT!     I’ll be updating my page on this trail system in the coming weeks

Black Mountain Page Updated

March 30th, 2015 by MTBBill

I have finally finished a long overdue update of my Black Mountain in Rancho Bernardo trail guide.

It can take quite a bit of work to get to all of the trails in this area so it took several visits.  I had forgotten just how easy to rack up a bunch of the elevation gain out at this place.

There has been some nice working going out here. The new Lilac trail is a great addition to the place and Miners Ridge Loop is in great shape.  The revised guide includes routes that use the Nighthawk connector which adds some additional options for getting up to the peak of the mountain.  So if you have not been to it in a while it is well worth it give the place another look if you call the San Diego area home.

Cuyamaca Mountains and CRHT Fun

March 26th, 2015 by MTBBill

This past weekend Nichol and I rode a modified version of the Cuyamaca Grand Loop.   It is very much looking like spring up in the Cuyamaca Mountains with lots of greenery, blooming plants and wildflowers.

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We started off from the East Mesa staging and rode the singletrack up to the park headquarters and then took the Green Valley Fireroad north.  Instead of climing Soapstone grade.  We took the Upper Green Valley singletrack north and climbed out of Cuyamaca State Park and into the Anza Borrego Desert State Park to the La Cima trail.

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You are certainly not in the desert at this point but the cool thing about the topology here is that in less that four miles the Cuyamaca Mountains drop nearly 3,000 feet into the desert proper. We topped out on the La Cima trail at about 4,880 feet.

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We rode the La Cima trail west to the California Riding and Hiking Trail (CRHT) where we the turned south.  This section of the CRHT is really sweet with some great views of the grassland of the Lake Cuyamaca Basin area.   This section of the CRHT is about 2.5 miles long and about halfway through this section you leave Anza Borrego State Park and cross back into Cuyamaca State Park.  The trail connects back up with Soapstone Grade fireroad at the top of the grade and we continued along the Grand Loop rout to the east.   In years past the state park had the California Riding and Hiking Trail closed to bikes in virtually all sections that were singletrack.  They have sense changed there mindset (Thanks to some tireless advocacy work by SDMBA!) and many more sections of the CRHT are now open in the park.  Instead of taking the pavement from Soapstone Grade Road out to Hwy 79 (I think the pavement is called Stonewall Creek Road??), We took the CRHT singletrack.

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The CRHT uses sections of the Minshall, Los Vaqueros and Vern Whitaker trails.  These are some nice sections of singletrack.  They do undulate a handful of times that is going to add your day’s effort but I put the cardio costs well worth it to enjoy these trails.  The CRHT comes out less than 50 yards south of the where the pavement meets up with Hwy 79.  There is also a junction with the northern end of the Cold Stream Trail.  The original plan was to turn right and continue along the Grand Loop route and do Milk Ranch Road and maybe a climb up Middle Peak.   Considering how cool the last section of the CRHT was and the open to bike signs for the next section across the highway,  we opted to continue along the CRHT.

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We immediately noticed that next section saw far less travel that across the highway.   Most of the users are obviously following the road to the north or the Cold Stream trail to the south.  I dig riding on trails that are sometimes defined by matted down grass.  There was also some rocky technical bits that added some nice character to the trail.   At the Azalea Glen trail junction the CRHT become make off-limits to bikes.   This was disappointing and turn west to ride the Azalea Glenn Loop trail which is open to bikes.   This lead us to the Paseo Picaho Campground.  We wanted to get up on the Azalea Fire Road and Fern Flat Fire Road to close off the Grand Loop but we now had to cover quite of elevation over a shorter distance.   A grunting we would up Lookout Road.

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Once we made it up to Fern Flat fire road we turn south and enjoy some mighty long stretches of downhill cruising that took us back down to the West Side single track near the start of the ride.   All together it was 22.1 miles with 3,190 feet of climbing so we definitely earned the post-ride beers and BBQ and Alpine Beer Company.

Updated Los Penasquitos Page

March 8th, 2015 by MTBBill

It has been long overdue, but I have finally updated my Los Penasquitos page to reflect the current configuration of trails in the area.

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Yes, it does include the Tunnels area.   More from a trail inventory perspective than a go ride it endorsement.   Although, if those trails were legal I would highly endorse them.  But it is not legal to ride those single tracks to I won’t endorse riding those really awesome trails.

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I also included the miles of mostly shaded single track along Penasquitos Creek.  These are trails that provide a quality outdoor experience that are also off-limits to bikes.    While the best stuff out at Penasquitos is off limits to bikes, there is still plenty of miles of dirt to get yourself in a good workout here.  You can read more about it on the updated page.

Feels like spring at Penasquitos!

February 21st, 2015 by MTBBill

With all of the destruction that has happened in the Penasquitos Canyon area over the last decade due to land development coupled with the various land management agencies waking up with from decades of management slumber the whole area is kind of a land management circus show.   The only groups that are making out in this deal are the developers and the folks making a living off protecting Fairy Shrimp (I’m still looking for a good recipe BTW)

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My Los Penasquitos Canyon page has been absurdly out of date ever since the development started.    I have decided to finally update the page so I have been riding out here as of late to refresh my GPS data and try to figure out the best legal way to ride out in this area that is not completely mudane and boring.    It is fairly tough as the mountain bikers have very little in the way of legal quality trails.  It seems the only things that are not endangered out here are no biking signs.   (Just for the record that trail in the picture above is not single track, it is more like a baby stroller trail, ATV trail, etc…)   You can get in some good riding with a quality outdoor experience but you are going to have illegally share with the hikers and the equestrians and blow by closed signs.

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The Camino Ruiz trail is the nearly lone exception to legal boredom of highway wide fire roads in the canyon offered to mountain bikers.  This  is a nice chunk of single track.

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Ok, ranting aside, the  warm weather streak we have been having in February has both plants and critters getting confused.   Flower are blooming and the everything is nice and green.

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Chasing the sun greenery

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It is pretty early for the snakes to be coming out already.   This is a rather healthy looking whip snake.

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It was in evening time so he was mighty sluggish and very easy to handle.   He seemed more than happy to leech some heat off of me before getting anxious to head off.

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Last weekend at the San Clemente Singletracks I saw my first rattlesnake of the season but he was uncooperative for the camera.  I saw my second rattler of the year at Penasquitos Canyon this week and this fella was more amiable to getting his picture taken.   The guys are going to be sucking when the weather shifts back to typical temperatures soon.

 

Laguna Mountains Camping

July 27th, 2014 by MTBBill

Last Sunday through Wednesday  my youngest son, Jake, and I did a three-night camping trip up in the Laguna Mountains east of San Diego. We got in some mountain biking, hiking and some good just kicking back time.

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Nichol joined us on the first day for a bike ride around the meadow, dinner and some marshmallow destruction before heading back home to play responsible adult while the boys played in the dirt.  Over the last few years there has been some reroutes to the meadow loop as well to some of the spur trails.  I would say they are all for the better.

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Back at camp, the marshmallows did not stand a chance.

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The morning of day 2 was meet with some leisurely breakfast making before hitting up some of the trails.

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Some play time on the Los Gatos trail was had.

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Jake working on a skinny.

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Jake working the camera.

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We spent the early part of the afternoon just chilling out camp watch the squirrels trying to figure out how to get to our camp treats.  This guy was craving some Cheetos.   That afternoon we did a hike nearby that include the PCT connector trail from the meadow.

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Day 3 we were up pretty early to hit some of the other Pretty Cool Trails in the area.   We rode the meadow over the Penny Pines Trailhead and then made our way over the Pioneer Mail Trailhead where we picked up the Pine Mountain Trail.  We took the Pine Mountain trail over to the Indian Creek Trail at Champagne Pass.    Indian Creek is the primary legal trail connector for bikes between Cuyamaca and the Laguna Mountains.

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We dropped off of Champagne pass to the east on the Indian Creek trail heading back to towards the Lagunas.

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Jake loves him some downhill fun but is not a fan of climbing at all. He wonders why every place can’t be like Mammoth or Big Bear. Once we got to meadow pictured above, I took great pleasure in letting him know it was 3 miles to anywhere from here in either direction and it was uphill in both directions.  We continued on the Indian Creek Trail to the east and climbed up to the junction with the Noble Canyon Trail.

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From there we turned north and climbed Noble.   (Colloquially known as the “Elbon” trail.)   There is a recently completely reroute of Noble up near the top.  The reroute eliminates a couple of road crossings.    The new section is much tighter and a twistier that the original section and while a bit loose right now it should bed in nicely once we get some rains.   I’m sure some of the Strava-tards and will wank about the reroute messing with their times.  (My suggesting to those folks is shut up, just ride faster or turn to juicing.)    Noble Canyon has its loyal followings of which some subscribe to the “Never Change My Trail” mentality so I would expect there will be discontent for a few months.  Personally I think the reroute is going to be really nice once bedded in.

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We took the “shortcut” spur trail that connects back to west end of the meadow vice going all the way back to the Penny Pines Trailhead.  Once back at the meadow it was a quite spin back to camp.

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It was pretty hot during the middle of the day so we kicked back in the shade of camp for a while before jumping in the truck for a swing by Laguna General Store for a Mexican Coke (The south of the border variant is made with real cane sugar vice corn syrup…tastier)  and an Ice Cream bar  before we did some recon work for some of the other trails in the area that are on my to-do list. Dinner that night was some tasty rib-eyes, grilled asparagus and zucchini with some brown rice.   That night we shook off the food coma by strapping on the headlamps to do a mini night ride out on the meadow that included some lights off time to check out the stars on that completely dark night.

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The next morning I was up before sunrise to get in a solo ride while the boy slept in.  Presumably there would be no one else out of the trail as well.  Sunrise was a Pretty Cool Time of day to be out and about by yourself in the woods.    On the way back from the 16 mile loop I saw Mr. Wyle Coyote out looking for breakfast.  After the initially moving away from me for a bit the coyote went back to hunting once establishing that I was not there to bother him.   I watched him for a good five minutes or so before moving along.

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Jake was just waking up when I got back to camp. A second round of coffee was in order for me and it was time for breakfast all around.   After breakfast it was time to break down camp and head out of the mountains.  I had a great time on the camping trip with Jake.   With the exception of a few minutes, we did not have data  coverage so having Jake “unplugged” was a bonus.   With no competition with the all powerful 3G/4G  it allowed for things like watching the “Campfire TV”, gazing at the stars, observations of the “little” things and conversations that would rarely occur otherwise.  Good times.   With some new GPS data and observations,  I’m planning on updating some of the maps, files and pages I have for this area on the site, so stay tuned.

CRHT Page Added

June 7th, 2014 by MTBBill

I have added a page to the site for the California Riding and Hiking Trail.  At this point its designed to share my on-going information gathering on the trail in the form of an interactive Google map.   I have not physically ridden all of the sections of the trail so if during the course of looking at my information you have some information to share feel free to comment here or email me.

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Exploration the CRHT

May 31st, 2014 by MTBBill

So for the last couple of weeks I have been out exploring and researching the California Riding and Hiking Trail (CRHT) here in San Diego County.   The history of this trail dates back to 1945 when the state legislature  passed the California Riding and Hiking Trails Act which called for a 3,000 mile multi-use loop trail between Oregon and Mexico.  The 3,000 miles never happened but over 1,000 miles did get built/designated.  Here in San Diego county there is about 108 miles of the trail with only 76 of being used. A portion of those 76 miles are having legal/access issues as some land-owners (not just private but other government agencies) are denying access to the public right of way easements.   It is worth noting that the County Parks and Recreation Department has officially put this trail into its Master Trails Plan.  Most of my research has been using their official GIS data on where they recognize the trails to be.  There are some deltas between their data and the current and/or historical trail that can actually be found.  The trail segments vary in quality from sublimely superb to completely obliterated by pavement.  There is a lot more to tell here and I hope to gather up and publish some of the information on the various segment issues in the future.

The trail passes through some of the trail systems that I have reviewed on the site.  The  Otay Mountain Loop, Hollenbeck Canyon, Cuyamaca State Park, and Oriflamme Canyon Loop reviews all have a segments of the CRHT passing through them.  The Warner Springs area has been my latest bit of on the ground research on the CRHT route.

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There are still bits to the original trail (as intended) still in use and accessible.

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Back in the 1940s and 1950s when many of the section were designated that used old truck trails, cattle routes and farm roads as the trail.   That might have been okay back then but as civilization came along some of those truck trails and farm roads have been widened and paved making them completely worthless as a trail.   It seems that there was never any mitigation made to reroute the trail.   Pictured above here is an old chapel that is still on a dirt road that the CRHT uses.

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Lost Valley Road (Which on some maps is called Lost Creek Road) is one of those segments where the CRHT used this dirt road that has since been paved (still single wide)  and the trail was not rerouted.   This would be a nice dirt road climb with good views of the valley below.

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The picture above is of the gate on the CRHT that uses the abandoned section of Lost Valley Road.  A 1/2 mile up the CRHT the PCT joins onto the CRHT.  Now keeping in mind that bicycles are allowed on the CRHT there is a bit of interesting co-use going on.  For  9/10ths of a mile the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) uses the CRHT trail as its route and of course all of the PCT signage says “NO BIKES”.   Now the Pacific Crest Trail was not established until 1968 a full 23 years after the CRHT.   This is not the only place were PCT co-use antics occur.  Up in the San Gabriel mountains, a 1/4mile section of the PCT was rerouted onto the Burkhart trail (a nice long open to bikes single-track) and the PCT folks tried to close that 1/4th mile section of the Burkhart trail to bikes.  It is complete onsense.

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Here is a view along the section of the 9/10ths of a miles of the CRHT discussed above.

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A fair portion of the CRHT route in this area sees far to much of this action.   Landowners illegally denying access to a public right of way easement.  The CRHT uses the dirt road pictured above but the Vista Irrigation District has removed all of the CRHT trail signs and has locked the gates.

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 It also looks they have removed some of these notices as well.

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This is just one of the tasty bits of trail that these landowners are attempting to deny the public access too.  I’m going to publish more information in the future as I gather it up. In the interim here is a Google Earth file (KML) extracted from the San Diego County GIS data base.  It also has some additional data in it and is what I consider a working document.