I did my first bike packing trip this weekend. A group of six of us set off to do the Coast to Crest trail leaving from Julian with the plan to end with our tires in the ocean on Del Mar’s Dog Beach. The Coast to Crest trail is a long way from completed and our route is basically follows the general corridor of where the trail should someday follow as best as we could follow it.
We pedaled out on Main Street/Farmers Rd for about 2.5 miles out to the start of the trail at Volcan Mountain Wilderness Preserve. Full disclaimer here, we did not climb all the way up to the top of the mountain as it is a steep out and back on double-track. The top Volcan Mountain is the “Crest” of the trail. From the Volcan Mountain Preseve we zipped down the paved Famers Road to the Santa Ysabel Open Space Preserve East.
It has been quite some time since I had ridden out here. I had nearly forgotten just how pretty it is out here.
The first climb was rather steep and all of the bikepacking gear quickly found myself out of clicks on my shifters.
The crew taking a break (Left to Right: Kevin, Carl, Greg, Chad and Ken) at our highest point along the trip. We did quite a bit of descent and a few short bit of steep climbing before we came out at the lower staging area of the preserve.
There is a massive section of trail that is not built from here. Our path from here was a quite bit on Highway 79 north and then a good long chunk of pavement climbing on Mesa Grande Road.
From there we left the pavement for some dirt road riding on Black Canyon Road. This was my first time on this section of the road. It was really awesome that this thing just seemed to descend forever. (Carl is in the photo above)
When we did reach of the bottom of the road, we turned onto the San Ysabel Truck Trail which is familiar dirt to me as it is part of the Black Mountain (Ramona) Loop near Ramona. This is part of the official Coast To Crest trail. There was some work to be done here as we worked over the south slope of Black Mountain before we had a very zippy descent down into Pamo Valley. We then pedaled south on Pamo Valley Road (mostly dirt road) before hooking up with Forest Service Road FS12504.
We chased down a spot to setup camp for the evening. We did a touch under 35 miles for day one. Tasty sprits seems to find there way into most of our packs. Since every ounce counts we felt it wise to lighten our load for tomorrow as much as possible All of my gear worked pretty much as expected and there were certainly some lessons learned. I slept really well that night and awoke to the sounds of turkeys gobbling in the distance. Not long after that a lone gunshot rang out that reminded me it is turkey season. I did not hear any more turkeys after that.
I had under estimated my fuel requirements for my alcohol stove but I did have just enough to get a couple cups of coffee made to go with breakfast. Coffee just tastes better outside. We leisurely broke camp and were back on the trail. Forest Service Rd 12504 is referred to as the Lower San Ysabel Truck Trail by the San Dieguito River Park. After just a bit of climbing, we were treated to a very mild grade descent. Carl and Kevin are pictured above heading down a particularly nice covered stretch of the truck trail.
Kevin was doing this ride on his rigid single speed and was just killing it. He also had a killer ultra-light setup. The Lower Santa Ysabel truck trail took us down to the Orasco/Gueito Truck Trail. This truck trail is not part of the official Coast to Crest trail at his point. We did take this truck trail up to Highway 78. We had to cruise down the highway for a couple of quick downhill miles where we hooked with some farm roads along the orange groves.
These farm roads took to the Bandy Canyon trailhead of the San Pasqual Valley trail that is part of the Coast to Crest trail. The trail goes along the edge of orange groves, sod and dairy farms in the valley before it starts climbing.
Climbing up to Raptor Ridge was a good bit of work with the gear on the bike. After that we were back into the routine home turf of Lake Hodges and we made quick work to the Farmers Market and the gas stations near the I-15 trailhead for some resupply. Nichol joined us through the Lake Hodges segment. (I think see liked this ride as the pace was slower than our normal outing speed).
Nichol turned back at the dam while we continued on down the Del Dios Gorge and onto the Santa Fe Valley trail
There was some climbing bits to be done including a sizable set of switch backs. Once we got to the top of the switchbacks we were once again off of the official Coast To Crest trail. We ended up dropping into the Lusardi Creek area via some singletrack and then working our way up to where the Santa Luz Loop starts. From here we had to do a five mile stretch of pavement along San Dieguito Road and El Camino Real to connect to the next segment of the Coast to Crest trail.
The final segment is along the San Dieguito Lagoon and passes by the Del Mar Fairgrounds
Chad along the boardwalk. We would cross the Jimmy Durante Blvd bridge and follow the Del Mar River down to Dog Beach
Ahhh Bike Tires in the Pacific and the finish of 43.5 miles for day 2 for a total of 78.2 miles
We were able to squeeze out another 1.1 miles to Pizza Port Solana Beach for some yummy pizza and tasty beers! A mighty fine weekend to be on a bike.
UPDATE (April 22nd, 2105): I have added a page to the site detailing this route with maps, GPS files and additional blabbery. Coast to Crest Trail