Rich Julian and I have been tossing around the idea for this ride for quite sometime as part of the our “Islands Project” concept of pushing to have all of the our small islands of open space connected throughout the county. Each little island of open space on its own has a network of trails but nothing that gets into the “epic” range.
The ride we did yesterday was both a research and proof of concept ride. While nearly the entire route is part of the county general trail plan, there are significant chunks that are not a reality yet. The rider list included 15 supporters and friends who have all put tools to earth to help create and maintain our trails around the county.
We started out bright and early from the La Costa Preserve and climbed the Vista Del Mar trail up to the top and then dropped down the backside and headed to the hill just to the east with the two water towers on top. From there we followed a series of easements down into the Escondido Creek watershed. While riding along these easements was not too interesting in was a good venue to point out exactly where we want to put in singletrack as part of the La Costa to Elfin Forest connector.
Getting over to Elfin Forest was not all easement travel. There are some nice sections that were created courtesy of the equestrain communities of Harmony Grove and Elfin Forest.
Here we are crossing Escondido Creek just inside of the Elfin Forest Park.
Once into Elfin Forest, it was up the WAAAAAY Up trail. Did I mention that this was my first significant ride in about three weeks? I was feeling it. Elfin Forest gets busy on the weekend so it was a good thing most of us where not setting any speed records up the climb.
Can you say Multiuse Trail?
The view of The Way Up trail from the Del Dios Highlands Trail
Once up into Elfin Forest we went down the other side into Lake Hodges on the Del Dios Highlands Trail.
This “Trail” is a good example of why we need to educate land managers and planners on what a trail is and is not. This was a steep graded fireroad with a generous amount of blue slate gravel. One redeeming quality of this descent was that it has some monster waterbars that you could catch some bits of air on if you desired to do so.
Rich was unable to do the ride due to a recent unplanned surgery so he setup up the super sag wagon and cheerleader support.
Who says you have to wait until the end of the ride for a beer?
From Lake Hodges we rode the Del Dios Trail along the lake until we had to hop on the road for e a bit due to the pump station construction that is going on towards the dam. Once around that we got back on the lake trail and made our way down to the dam.
Freaking Roadie ruined a prefectully good MTB shot.
We had to do a bit of hoping onto Del Dios Highway for a couple of short bits to get to the San Dieguito River Trail. This section of trail was just about to open when the October 2007 Firestorm came through and burnt about 62% of the entire corrider. We were given special permission to use the closed Sante Fe Valley Trail. We could soon see why the trail is still closed as seven bridges are completely burnt out.
Even with the burn damage this was still a pretty area. There is a bunch of work to be done, so when you here about volunteer work oppurtunities here, it would really help if you can lend a couple hands and a little sweat.
We did not exactly follow my intended route through this area, but we all knew this was going to be a bit of a Lewis and Clark area. We ended up doing a sizable switchbacking climb that could have been avoided, the good news for me was there were no open chants of mutiny so all was good.
We soon tied into the Santa Luz Loop and fully known trails for me. We made pretty good time through Lusardi Canyon towards Black Mountain, but man was I starting to drag. There are a couple of hills that I referred to as “good workouts” in my individual trail reviews but combined with our previous mileage it freaking hurt the quads.
Rich once again met us with Sag Wagon support and encouragement. We topped off waters and scarfed a few snacks before heading off around the rest of the Santa Luz Loop to the Los Penaquitos Canyon Connector. This section of the Santa Luz Loop has grown in really nicely and the singletrack has gotten really good.
The connector took us under a few bridges and another mean climb and into area known as “The Tunnels” that brought up onto Del Mar Mesa where we then dropped into Penasquitos Canyon.
At this point in the ride we could all hear tiny bubbles escaping from a tap in the distance. Considering most of our states of fatigue, we made quick work to the west end of the canyon and the Pro-Built Wheels Bike Shop where good food and beers were awaitng us.
An In-Shop Keg, You gotta love it. On this evening it was Sierra Nevada on tap.
The guys at the shop did it up really great for us and it was most welcome. Big thanks to Squadra for hooking up the return shuttle back up north after the eveing festivities. We could have easily done 60-70+ miles but we settled for just 43 miles with about 5,500 feet of climbing. I’m freaking beat and loving it!