I am a frequent flyer to the Mount Laguna Area. Here is a clip of one of my recent runs down that trail.
A while back I revisited the Santa Margarita River Trail and shot some video.
The placed has changed a bit with the primary thing being some “improvements” to the south side that has “tamed” some of the trails a little and made them slightly wider. To the east of the preserve the Red Mountain and “Hills Loop” I used to describe have been cutoff due to an property acquisition by an environmental group. There is still plenty to see out here and while summer is not the best time to be out here it was still a nice outing on the bike.
The Laguna Mountains are one of my happy places. Nichol and I spent the July 4th holiday weekend (and then some) at the Laguna Meadow campground.
We really love this area not only for cool trails right from camp but also for it just being an awesome place to just to chill outdoors. One of the things we like about it during the July 4th weekend is the lack of fireworks. Within hearing distance of our home are several annual fireworks events that pretty much keeps are dogs traumatized for the bulk of the Independence Day evening. Life is just better for our dogs (and us) up here away from the boomage.
Did I mention trails? I already posted up about checking out Garnet Peak, but I hit most of the stuff in the area over the course of the trip.
The nice thing about camping here is that you don’t have to try and hit everything at once. Some trails in the morning. Some in the afternoon. Hell, why not a post-2nd breakfast ride?
Then of course there is hammock time. Yeah we had a great time!
I have been talking about doing Garnet Peak with a couple of my buds off and on for years. The themes of the conversations have usually included phrases like ” Its worth checking out”, “Oh yeah it chunky” and “You will probably like it”. So while camping in the Lagunas over the July 4th weekend, I decided to give Garnet Peak a go. This is a short (2.4 miles out-and-bike) hiking trail that bikes are allowed on. The trail is accessed right from Sunrise Highway if you are on a bike. Hikers can additionally access it via the PCT trailheads at Penny Pines or Pioneer Mail.
The trail starts off easy enough and appears to be an old road bed. The trail supposedly gets lots of use but it was not too apparent on this day. The trail narrows way down and steepened up just before it crosses the
Perfect Cycling Pacific Crest Trail. The raw chunk factor steps up as well. I do enjoy this type of slow tech climbing…for a while. At some point I was “Yeah, I know how to climb this stuff but hiking it is easier. I feel I did climb a solid amount of this trail but with plenty of stops. Often times it was stop and eyeball the line for the descent. Sometimes I just told myself that knowing the real reason was I just did have the willpower to keep throwing down the grunt.
The chunk of the trail often dictated a climbing line not dead center of the trail. This is where the chapparral brush took its toll. I had some good exfoliation going on by the 2/3rds mark up. I highly recommend some knee/shin guards or pants for this alone.
The views expanded as a I neared the peak. First it was to the North and Northwest. The Palomar Observatory was easily seen in the distance. Closer is a prominent reddish rock formation that you can’t help but wonder what is out there. There is a barely discernable path out to it from the trail when the formation is right off your left shoulder. (Thats Port Beam for you Navy Schallywags). It’s worth a scramble around.
The last 50 feet to the summit are not what I call doable unless you are a trials rider. The juxtaposition of the Anza-Borrego Desert and Mount Laguna made for some impressive views. It was clear enough on this day to see the Salton Sea and beyond. This peak is known for being one of the windiest spots in the county and that certainly seemed to be the case on this day.
The descent was challenging with a high requirement for precision. Boy the exfoliation factor was climbing rapidly and becoming uncomfortable to distractingly painful everytime a brush touched already “treated” skin. I did not ride everything I put on my “ride list” while on the uphill scouting climb. The common theme with everyone of these balks was I would have to take an off center line than ensured more lower leg treatments.
This trail was fun, with momentary hints of Type II fun. The trail is really too short breech into full blown in the moment misery. Garnet Peak might end up as an annual affair but next time I will bring some lower leg protection. I would not come out to the Lagunas just to do this trail but if you are a regular you might want to spice up one of your loops by adding this trail.
Here is the video from this outing
It was not planned but I found myself awake at four something this morning. (Thats O-damn:Early for this retired military guy) After determining that getting back to sleep was probably not going to happen I managed to shuffle to the coffee machine without stumping a toe. Somewhere along the ensuing journey to coherencency the MTB gear managed to get loaded in the truck. The destination was not decided until I had to pick a freeway on ramp.
I pulled into the staging area for the Upper La Cima and Lucky 5 trails about 30 mins after sunrise. I was doing a switchup on one of my favorite routes in this area. I normally start down near the bottom of the mountains and climb up to here. I wanted to enjoy the mostly downhill half of this route in the early morning light.
Boy was I rewarded with some fantastic light as well as nice temps for this late June morning. I always enjoy these trails but this was something special. Some of it could have been my own low expectations of muted summer “brown” but the early morning light put a nice pop of color on the landscape.
As I worked my way to Soapstone Grade and then Stonewall Creek fireroad I was pleasantly surprised to still have the good light holding on. The Cold Spring and Cold Streams singletracks were just glorious. It was not until I was heading down the Westside singletrack did the last remnants of the morning glory relent to the rest of the day.
I was stoked to have seen some my “old” favorites literally in a new light. It was now time to eat my vegetables after enjoying dessert first. The temps were climbing quickly and it was pretty much all climbing back to my truck. The price of admission was well worth it as I closed out the loop using Green Valley fireroads followed by Upper Green Valley singletrack. This will not be the last time I do this dawn patrol ride.
If you are interested in doing this route here is my ridelog. https://www.trailforks.com/ridelog/view/40240741/
What a great day to be on a bike!
UPDATE: Here is the video from that outing
Lake Hodges is being drained down to support some dam reports. It was pretty shocking to see it when I went out for a ride up Bernardo Mountain recently.
Doing the Caballo trail out a Daley Ranch requires a bit of a commitment as it will add some climbing to your day. The Quail trail is a much easier sell as it just adds a little work to your day. Both are worth the price of admission in my book.
So I have been eyeballing up checking out Lusardi Truck Trail for quite some time. I heard that it was “just” a dead end but I wanted to see for myself. I know I could have drove my truck this forest service road, but I wanted to investigate with two wheels.
It is mostly a climb over six-miles until it does indeed dead-end at a locked gate to some private property. I can’t really say this is much of a trail but if you want to see this back corner of the Cleveland National Forest it is well worth a visit. In the near term I have added this to Trailforks and I will probably add this to my site as well.
One of my MTB Buddies from Hawaii was in town and I was quite pleased to take him out to the Laguna Mountains to show him some of my favorite local goods.
The is more to Escondido than Daley Ranch. Valley Center is its next door neighbor and I did some snooping around along the seams near Daley Ranch. Not all of the route I did turn out to be fully legit but it sure was interesting. Moral of the story, don’t be afraid to get almost lost.