Archive for the ‘Riverside County’ Category

Variations of Palm Canyon

February 19th, 2013 by MTBBill

I spent this past weekend out in Palm Springs with my girlfriend and got in one of Southern California’s Classic Epic rides,  Palm Canyon.  I have done this ride quite a few times but the plan was to do a different variation on the route for this outing.   All of the logistics has been carefully worked out a day or so before the ride which meant that would be not be how things would actually go down.    

Everyone pretty much arrived on time and after some introductions and early morning chit chat while jostling bikes between vehicles we were on our way out of Palm Springs and up the mountain to the upper trailhead.    We met up with most of the San Diego crew at the top and were soon off and rolling through the Pinyon Pines trails which is the most commonly taken variation on the classic route.   It was really good rolling up and down singletrack goodess before getting serious about dropping into Palm Canyon.

Lance, Matt and Ben were the rabbits of the group and they were being mighty zippy with the pace.   I should have known better than to chase those guys but I’m a slow learner.  After  a few miles I found myself in cardio distress hanging over the handlebars whezzing like a 90 year old chain smoker with screaming quads and the only coherent thought I could hear in my melon over the sound of blood pounding through my temples was  “What The F$%k!”.      

After regaining some composer I was back on the peddles and was able to notice what a glorious day it was now that I was back in my proper place in the whole age/weight/fitness lineup.    The thought did not escape me that we connoisseurs of  tasty malted and hopped beverages seemed to be pushing similar paces.

Palm Canyon is known for finding weaknesses in your gear and exploiting them. Steve had one of his pedals strip out of the crankarm. We tried a variety of McGuyver options to keep him rolling but as the ride progressed the pedal got worse and worse and worse. He ultimately ended up have to do at least 6 miles of one legged pedaling, hiking and coasting across the desert before you was able to hit a bail out point and head downhill towards civilization.

The trail conditions were pretty good despite it being a fairly dry winter in these parts.   None of the stream/creek crossing had water in them.  

 

Here are Steve, Michael and Evan heading out on the Indian Poterro  trail.   I managed miss every catcus gauntlet on and along the entire trail but I managed to step into a cholla while getting setup for this shot.     I plucked out a good dozen spines and I’m sure I will pluck another dozen out of my leg over the next few weeks as my body works to push out the ones that broke off flush or under the skin.

Michael had a couple of the evil chollas jump out and attack his tires over the course of the day.   Evan was kind enough to donate a Slime tube after the second flat.

One of the variations on the route involves not going up the 3 mile wash climb and the follow on descent of the Hahn Buena Vista trail which represents a big cost followed by a big reward section of this route.   Instead we only climbed about 10 percent of the 3 mile Dry Wash and the hung a left onto the East Fork trail where we did some rolling ups and downs over to the Vandeventer trail before settling in for a climb along the fern canyon trail up to the saddle of  the upper end of Wildhorse and the Clara Burgess trail.   The next variation that was being thrown in on this day involved taking the Clara Burgess trail up and over Murray Hill and down into the bottom of Goat Trails with a follow on climb that would take us back up near the top of the Goat Trails again.   I have gone over Murray Hill in the opposite direction and I knew it was going to be a real beater.    After taking stock of what I had left in the tank, I along with three others opted to forgo this section and meet at the next variation point along the Garstin trail.   Above are some of the manly mens group heading up the Clara Burgess trail.

Dave and Michael making their way to the top of the Garstin trail.

The peak to the left is Murray Hill and saddle were the manly men started from is off to the right side of the frame.   If you play a little “Where is Waldo”  you can see them working their way up to the Garstin trail.  One of the manly men had to bail after Murray Hill from being completely bonked to the point of being sick.  We ladies of the shortcut crew had spent every bit of an hour changing our feminine napkins, snacking and napping.  Did I mention what a glorious day it was?

The final variation on the traditional route today had us dropping the Shannon and Henderson trail out of the Goat Trails.   Above is the top part of the Shannon trail before it gets really steep with a series of hella tight switchbacks.  It was a really cool section of trail but not for those who get a freaked out when exposure is involved.  Blowing  some of those switch backs to the outside would not make you a happy camper and could net you an appearance on “When Vacations Attack”, “Worlds Most Amazing…” or any one of those other “Awh Shit” shows.

As a bit of coolness bonus along this trail you go by Bob Hope’s house.  Its the big domed pad on the right hand side of the picture.    The Shannon and the Henderson trails dump you out on surface streets that we took back over the traditional bottom of the Palm Canyon route in Von’s Rimrock Shopping Center.      Tasty beverages were soon being had along with post-ride chit chat before more bike jostling ensued before we made our way over to Rancho Mirage for dinner at  Babe’s BBQ and Brewhouse.   I helped shuttle folks back up to top before rolling back down to the hill to finish out the weekend in Palm Springs with my girlfriend.

NorCal Peep Tour of the SART

July 10th, 2011 by MTBBill

So I know some people who know some people who …….

That is typically the start of a really good bit of story telling.   It ranks right up there with “This is a No-Shitter”.    Of course any story that starts off with either one of those opening lines is to be treated as suspect and the phrases are synonymous with some kind of embellishment disclaimer.      (NOTE TO SELF:  Remind the viewers of my site, that nearly all my website work is done while enjoying tasty west-coast style hop-infused micro-brews that forces me into heavy reliance on the spellcheck function.  With that in mind  the readers should expect the wong word two bee used from thyme too time and possibly a complete would be missing here and there :)

So a freind of my mine in Norcal had a friend of his talk to a friend of mine, then that friend and I came up with a plan to take that friend of our friend onto a trail that a mutual friend had shown us some number of years ago.    Yeah I know some people who know some people who….

So after meeting up with Vincent we dropped off a truck down at the lower elevation and made our way up towards the back side of Big Bear.   About an hour later we were doing the final gear checks and  headed off up “a trail”.   The trail started off at 8,700 feet and we would be climbing to just under 9,000 before pointing the forks downhill.   It is was immediatly clear we were not a sea level.  It is pretty awesome how clean, clear and crisp the air feels at this elevation.  Which is a good thing as I was using a lot of it!

We were not long into the ride before it became quite evident that the wet and late winter played havoc in this area as there were plenty of deadfall to deal with.   We made a little roll action here and there and cleared what we could but for the most part we had some flow bustage to deal with when up in the pines.

 So we were already in the “Back 40″ so to say, but there was this off-shoot remenant of a trail that Bill and I had been eyeballing for some number of years so we decided to check it out.   Checking it out meant some granny gearage and some hike-a-biking.  The remenant ended up going  where we thought it might and it was soon time to point the bikes back downhill for a quick bit of raw and untramelled excitement.

 

We expected cooler temps up higher but it soon became apparent that some unexpected weather had rolled in and had the entire area covered in clouds.  The good news for us was that as we shedded of the elevation the temps were not climbing like we expected.  We were living good! 

 We got in some great backcountry trail action before having to commit to a bit of dirt and paved road action that would take to the Santa Ana River Trail.

 The SART was in good shape and the lower temps made for some nice riding conditions for this time of year.   I was especially feeling in the zone and was having an incredible time  on all of the sidehill goodness this trail has to offer.  

 Vincent rolling by

 There was quite a bit more water than expected at all of the creek and feeder stream crossing.   

This was the final creek crossing of the day and soon after this it was time for tasty beverages full of tiny bubbles and chit-chat about today’s adventure.  We had barely rolled back to truck when the clouds cleared and the temps quickly climbed into the hot zone.    Like most days on a mountain bike near the middle of nowhere, today did not suck.

Playing in the Big Bear Back Country

June 29th, 2010 by MTBBill

Sunday I ventured up to the Big Bear area with Bill O’Neil for a bit of back country goodness.    The person who first turned me onto this route asked that I not give out the names so I’m honoring that.   Other than having to spend some quality time with the topographic maps there is no reason why you can’t go out and discover this ride for yourself.

We would ride/hike a series of trails over several peaks with some fantastic views.   I had worn my SIDI biking shoes which was not the best choice for the adventure today.   I have a couple sets of MTB shoes that have more rubber in the sole which would be much more hike-a-bike friendly than todays selection.

The terrain in this area is fairly energy sapping.   Squared off rocks that slip and slide underneath your wheels makes for interesting descents where finesse of the controls and the nerve to let the bike make it’s own small line adjustments are a must to keep the rubber side down.   This stuff also puts a little extra calf burn on you in the hike-a-bike sections.  We did plenty of  this in the higher elevations.  Along one of these section I was surprised to see both a solo rider as well as two other riders (Actually at that time they were hike-a-bikers) later on.  It was the first time in 3 years that I have seen anyone other than some hikers and the a couple of mounted forest service rangers.   

For me the long stretches of hike-a-bike were well worth it for the views and the techy descents.

Of course what goes up must come down.   We eventually did a bit of road interconnect  before hopping onto a classic Southern California trail. 

We took a break at a campground near the final trailhead to refill our Camelbaks and to grab some snacks.   The campground was closed for maintenance but the water was still on so we chilled at one of the campsite benches.  Within minutes of our arrival the little guy who runs campsite #1 came over, introduced himself and attempted to persuade us to kick him a little something for looking after the place.

Now, I know your not supposed to feed these guys but he was certainly a veteran of the campground gig.  Not to mention he was so damn cute!

The final trail was in pretty good shape and it was a blast as always.  The creeks were flowing well and the one pictured above got me pretty good.  I picked a bad line through the creek and found the deepest part of the crossing and a sizable rock.  Combined with my less that stellar effort I executed an endo to a perfect 5-point landing in the creek.    That was Brisk Baby!   There were no other unplanned dismounts for the rest of the ride and by the end of the day we had put in about 28 miles and a lot of smiles.

Joshua Tree National Park

April 10th, 2010 by MTBBill

The last month or so has been pretty tough for me on the MTB front.  Between a couple of injuries, illness and major work project here in San Diego I have not seen much bike action at all.   Big projects at work are a whole lot easier when they involve travel as you don’t have to play the work-family balance game.   A couple of weeks ago, I went out to Joshua Tree National Park to take a look see.  I really did not know what to expect.

  One thing for certain there is a lot of open space out here.   Pinkham Canyon to Thermal Canyon and back was the route for the day.  It was to be an all dirt road  affair.

As far as dirt road goes, I have ridden far less interesting section of dirt in the past.   It is certainly desert out here. 

Out near the end fo the out and back we checked out the leftover bits on the Silver Cloud mine. 

 

While looking at the maps, the thought of doing a multi-day MTB self-sustained camping loop would be cool. 

Unfortunately, 75 percent of the park has been designated as wilderness so much of the cool bits would be off limits to bikes.    I only cut through a small sliver of this place.  I some point I’m going to get back here to check out the northern end of the place.

An incredible ride at Palm Canyon

December 30th, 2009 by MTBBill

What exactly makes an Epic? Wither it is online or recounting the days adventure at the trailhead, the question comes up quite routinely. Difficultly, length, scenery, conditions, the variables in the equation are numerous and subjective. The Palm Canyon trail fits just about everyone’s definition of an epic. It is a big classic desert ride than can be brutal for the ill-prepared or in the wrong conditions. I’ve done this ride a whole bunch of times and have the checklist of extra stuff to bring pretty much tattooed on my brain. There is something about the misery from forgetting this kind of stuff in the past that files that stuff in a mentally easy spot to find.

That ready file was opened up Monday afternoon on the drive back home from our Christmas travels when the phone rang. “Hey Bill, what do you think about doing Palm Canyon tomorrow? Hold on a second…. Hey Honey, do you mind if I do an all-dayer tomorrow? …..Dude, I’m down, how does 7:30am at the Von’s parking lot sound? … Sweet! See you then.” That was all the planning involved for this ride. Both Bill O’Neil and I have been on enough rides and trips together to know the drill. Now lets get to that checklist.

O-Dark:30 came O’Damnearly and I was headed towards Palm Springs much earlier than my body would have liked. There was sugar and caffiene in ample supply on the drive. I was taking the “country” route which took me past the upper trailhead near Pinyon Crest on Highway 74. It was a mighty brisk 37 degrees when I went by there. A made a mental note to give the “fellows” a break and change into the bike gear at the bottom. Neither Bill or I were able to rustle up any of the usual suspects for the ride on short notice so it was just Bill and I headed back up the mountain after shuffling stuff around between trucks. It had been two years since either one of us had done this ride so I was stoked. Bill had never done the Pinyon Flats trail and it had nearly been five years since I had last done that trail so we opted to start from Pinyon Flats vice the Palm Canyon trailhead proper.

It addition to being brisk, there was a biting breeze but it was otherwise an exceptionally pretty day. Layered up we set out. I had nearly forgotten how flowy and swoopy Pinyon Flats is in most spots. I was having so much fun, I did not even pull the camera out. Once we met up with the Palm Canyon trail, one thing became blissfully obvious. The trail conditions were simply the best I have ever seen. The rains had packed the soil and enough moisture remained to provide both great traction with no additional drag on the tires. Mother Nature had served up some downright sexy dirt.

Killer trail conditions and an exceptionally clear day with the temperatures somewhere between cool and mild is what continued to develop as the day went on. With just the two of us, we were not burning any daylight on regroups and other delays that typically scale up with the group size. We were not really hammering, just flowing along taking advantage of the wonderful conditions. Before long we were at the bottom of Dry Wash. A three-mile sandy climb awaited us. While chilling here it was nice to realize that barring some misadventure we had a huge daylight buffer now. The ride up until now had been so awesome that I could have cared less if I had to walk nearly all of the next three miles if the sand sucked.

The sand did not suck. The dry wash was also in the best shape I had ever seen it and for the most part completely rideable. You still had to look for the firm lines in the sand but the wash was not in its usual death march form. After the wash it was time for the Hahn Buena Vista trail after a break at the dozer. Once again the trail conditions were incredible. The camera remained packed away as nearly all things must yield to the sirens song of tires holding their line through flowy downhill goodness.

After the giggling like school boys descent we payed back some elevation up the Catherdral Canyon and then over to the saddle at the Wildhorse and Claire Burgess trail junction. There was a good dose of fatigue set in at this point and the breaks came a little more often. It was all good as there are far worse things to do than stopping and smelling the flowers around here.

I love the Wildhorse trail, the plummeting elevation drop on either side the ridge top section this trail make for some splendid views. There is also a mental boost of seeing your destination below. It is much better seen in person than described.

The ubiquitous trusty steed shot from the peak on Wildhorse with San Gorgorino is in the distance. It had been sometime since the Spider had seen some trail love so it was called into action today. It was certainly the correct weapon of choice today. Man I love this bike, such a wonderful XC machine.

After dropping the steep switch back section of Wildhorse we worked our way through the Goat Trails and soon rolled back down to the lower trail. What exactly makes an epic? There was no debating that question this afternoon, all the variables of that equation were scattered across the 30 miles of awesomeness countryside that lay behind us. There was nothing do now but celebrate the Palm Canyon Epic.

Toro Peak Access

September 12th, 2009 by MTBBill

It has been brought to my attention by a lawyer representing the Santa Rosa Band of Cahuilla Indians that the land around the summit of Toro Peak is part of the tribe’s reservation lands. Since my original posting of Santa Rosa Mountain and Toro Peak page in 2003, they have added signs to alert the public to the fact you will be trespassing if you go all the way to the peak. I have requested a meeting to see exactly where all of the boundaries are and get the full story on things. In the interim from what I have gathered from other sources you would cross onto the reservation lands shortly after the fork in the forest road at 12.8 miles. This is roughly halfway between SR-21 and SR-22 way points on my map. You can find numerous printed guidebooks and online resources that make no mention of the land ownership and access issues. Sometime in the last six years keeping the public off of Toro Peak has become a greater concern to the Cahuilla Indians. Hopefully my photos of this truly magnificent peak will satisfy your curiosity because you will be trespassing if you climb the last mile or so to the summit yourself. Also don’t forget to check out one my early additions to the site.

Long Time No See! or “Funk Busting”

August 4th, 2009 by MTBBill

So there has not been too much on the MTB scene that I have felt like writing about since I got back from Japan.  That does not mean that I have not been riding.  I just did not seem too inspired to write about it.   I have gotten in a couple of quick spins through Lake Calvera on my singlespeed and even caught the SDMBA San Clemente Singletracks Ride.  These rides while fun where just not doing it for me on the trail scene.   I have noticed I get like this for a week or two after epic riding trips.   I have come to think of it as “Post Killer Trip Depression” or “Epic Lag”.  Pick whatever shrink-babble works for you but I was coming off some awesome trail riding and was looking for some new dirt  to ride in SoCal.

I had not ridden with Bill O’Neil in freaking ages.  Well maybe not ages but nine months is a pretty long time.  He busted up his wrist really bad late last year and had to deal with a long recovery.  Combined with my traveling schedule earlier this year and the better part of a year just slipped by.  It was time to kick this “Epic Lag” in the ass and catchup with Bill on some singletrack.   The person who organized this ride thinks it is best to keep the names of these trails “off-the-air” so I’ll leave things as that.  While you may find these trail segments on most of the older topographic maps of the San Bernardino National Forest, you will have to be a little adventurous to ride some of these bits. 

 

The rewards were certainly there and it was just what I needed to bust out of the Post Epic Funk.  

 

The trail was just what I had expected, fairly buff and flowing.  One thing I had not realized was that I had been missing the continuous moving that is so much easier to do back here in SoCal.  The steepness of the terrain in the area of Japan I was in often meant that your riding mileage was often broken up by short hike-a-bike sections.  It was pretty awesome to just be able to “go”.   At the same time these trails revealed my fitness level for the continuous “go” has been dropping off.  Way to many rides of stopping to navigate and take pictures.  I suppose there are far much worse ways to get out of shape :)

Ultimately we knocked off a good chunk of mileage on some pretty cool trails.   We even had time to stop and smell the flowers.  It is always refreshing to get on the trail less ridden and try something new.    Doing it while catching up with friends is a nice bonus.  Oh yeah, there was tasty microbrews waiting in the cooler at the end of the ride.

A little bit of Skyline DH

November 24th, 2008 by MTBBill

On a whim, I decided to head up to Corona and investigate a trail I have l been eyeing for a year or so.   To get there I needed to climb the Skyline Drive Fireroad on the the northeast side of the Santa Ana Mountains.   I arrived at the trailhead at fairly descent time and since this was an on-a-whim ride, I was joined by all of my friends.   The temps were pretty nice as I started my solo climb up the fireroad. 

While the grade did not seem steep, I was surprised how quickly the elevation stacked up.  There were some nice views to the north despite the ickyness that was setting down in the valleys below (That is not fog). 

The climb went by quicker than expected and I even got a really cool treat.  I rounded a corner to see a young bobcat crossing the fireroad.  The cat was not much bigger than your average house kitty.  He climbed up a steep embackment and stood at the top looking down at me for a good 15-20 seconds.  I was trying to get my camera out without causing him to bolt, but as soon as he saw the camera come out of the bag and me start to raise it, he stepped into the brush.   Geez, he was pretty.  It was awesome to get to admire one of these critters up close.  It was not long after this encounter that I made it to Beek’s Place and continued along Main Divide past the golfball.

  I have been tinkering with a new helmet camera mounting setup that would allow to get away from having a dedicated helmet for the camera system.  Wearing the helmet camera on long climbs when you are not filming is a bummer.  I want to be able to quickly remove the camera gear so that I could only carry a single helmet on a ride.    The new setup basically uses the quick-release mounts designed for professional/prosumer grade camera tripods.  When completed this setup should be must more versatile.  So far I have only completed my full-face helmet.   That was also part of the reason I chose this trail, it seemed silly to bring a full-face helmetcam out to some place like Penasquitos Canyon.

After about a mile of climbing on Main Divide Truck Trail, I reached the “Skyline DH” (Have no idea what it’s actual name is yet).    I was looking at this ridgeline quite a bit on the climb up and it certainly looked to have some steepness.

Steepness it did have.   While this trail felt a little like Bell Ridge at the beginning it soon became much more like Coldwater.   These types of trails are somewhat of an acquired taste. There were some sections of pure adrenaline rush as you just flew down the trail.  Other sections were so so steep that you had to be somewhat surgical with controlling your bike and the brakes as you could only marginally control your rate of acceleration let alone stop.  I like sections like that for the challenge they present but they are not my favorites.   As I neared the bottom, I came upon a firecrew contracted out from Oregon to do some debrushing for fire abatement on the trail.  They were doing a fine job, but since I caught them in mid-workday, they had yet to remove all the trimmings from the trail below them.  This made the last bit of descent slow going but overall this ride was well worth it.

Herkey Creek and May Valley

June 22nd, 2008 by MTBBill

Springtime riding around Idyllwild is some of my favorite stuff around SoCal.  Unfortunately due to some ill-timed (like there is ever good-timed) injuries and a horrible bout of poison oak,  I missed the spring riding in the area.  Even though I knew it was going to be hot I met one of my regular riding buds who was in the area for a wedding this weekend.   Considering that he was going to be up late with the reception and all, we opted for a 9AM start time from the Herkey Creek Campground area.  We knew it would be even toastier with that start time.   Hot it was but a fairly consistent breeze kept it just hot vice blistering.  We brought plenty of extra water and electrolytes and kept to a “heat management” pace on all the significant uphills.

The trails can get pretty loose here during the summer.  I was quite impressed with how well the trails are holding up and I am pretty sure it is due to the care that most of the locals take when riding this system.   You can not rail this stuff like you can during the spring and moist times and it is impertive that you hold the lines and skillfully use the brakes.  The trails simply can not hold up to skidiots and turnblowers.  There was plenty of evidence to show that some of the people who do blow a turn took the time to stop, go back and make an effort to repair their damage, or at least brush out their off-trail tracks.   I hate to say it, but you just don’t see that generalized level of trail ownership by the routine-users in the more urbanized areas like Orange County and San Diego.  We should all take a lesson from the Idyllwild folks.

 Bill Gets Air
In addition to enjoying the flowy twisty singletrack goodness that this place is known for, we played around and a few rocks.

Bill O twisting
Here is one of the twister rocks bits that is nearly a maze.  Hats off to the builders of this.    

This was a great finish to a good week of riding, which included some of my local stuff, and the Santa Margarita River Trail (aka SMaRT).  I was slacking with my camera for those rides, but here is a ride report on the SMaRT ride on SocalTrailRiders.org.

-Bill

Simpson Park in Hemet, CA

February 6th, 2008 by MTBBill

I had some things to attend to in Temecula this morning and since I was already halfway to Hemet, I decided to check Simpson Park off of my to-do list.   What I had heard was the that place had a small but nice network of singletrack as well as some features that would require your “A”game.     I have to say that this place more than lives up to that reputation.   There were more trails there than I expected and the quality of the singletracks were outstanding.  They were often a mix of buffed tread with frequent undulations and rock features.   With great views of the snow-capped San Jacincto and San Bernardino Mountains coupled with green grass and Lake Perris in the distance this was a great place to spend and afternoon exploring.  

Simpson Park 

There are at least several trails that leave the Simpson Park area and go to the east and west along the ridgeline that park is situated on.   I did some exploring to the west of the park and found some really nice stuff.

 Techy Section 

I turned around once I had made my way out to the Ramona Cross about the Ramona Bowl in Hemet.

Ramona Cross

If you are looking for some techno-fun stuff make sure to check out the Lake View trail.  There are many rock-rolling line options of varying degrees of difficulty with the easiest being “tricky”.

Lake View Trail

I have bumped this trail to the top of my trail reviews in progress stuff to do.   Hemet can be blistering hot during the summer and I have a good feeling that these super nice trails will get sandy during the dry months so now is a really good time to check this place out.  

Until I get my stuff together here are a couple of rambling  bits of information:

  • Pick up a trail map at the visitor center.  There is also a big map by the restrooms.
  • Climb the Crest Trail, it will take you out of the park.   When you get to the top at a fireroad, take your first singletrack on your left (I think it is Canyon).  You will soon be back in the park. Hit the Redtail trail.
  • At the other end of the park, at the intersection of the Quail trail and Buck Brush,  take a single track off to the south that rolls up onto a small ridge.   Mucho fun as it take you west. Berms, jumps, and rollers are some of the stuff you will find out there.
  • From the restroom at the far end of the park pickup the Lakeview trail by the highest elevation picnic table you can find.   Take Lake View down, hang a right, go by the water tank and pick up Lichen.  Follow it until you come to a junction go left, cross the road and pickup the Black Sage trail.  Take that to Live Oak and Ribbonwood and head back to the parking area on the fireroad.

Getting there: Check out the Google Maps directions to get from Tecmecula to Simpson Park.

This place is cool so check it out while the conditions are great.

 -Bill