Mountain Bike Bill, The Dirt on the Dirt

San Marcos – Its not a F$%)ing Trail!

Tripe (noun)

  1. Lining of the stomach of a ruminant (especially a bovine) used as food.
  2. A slang term synonymous with rubbish, in the sense of something of little value, or nonsense. 
  3.  (see also San Elijo Trails)

Definition #2 particularlythe “something of little value” is the theme of this rant.

So for the last week or so I have been investigating some of trails not to far from my hood.  The San Elijo Hills area.   I was not expecting much and I was quite underwhelmed.  More than just underwhelmed, I was pissed at what the developer was allowed to get away with calling trails.


The Gardens View Tripe – Are you f$%^ing kidding me!  When two trucks can pass one another on it, it is not a trail.   It is a dirt road.


I laughed out loud at this sign.  “Give Life A Chance”.     What the sign from the San Elijo Hills Development Company should say is “YOU need to give life a chance, because WE have already bulldozed all the habitat in this area”


Take a look at the crap they have on their website.  18 miles of trails.   There is less than one mile of trail in this development.   There are over 17 miles of Dirt Sidewalk Pathway Tripe throughout this development.   Try a little truth in advertising.

The Double Peak Tripe.    The “trail” is the dirt sidewalk on the side of the pavement and then starts up the hill.     Where is the natural outdoor experience here?  You have either pavement or a cement gutter on one side and a wooden rail fence to keep from even contacting nature on the other.   Most of this climb is compacted and absolutely smooth decomposed granite.  It is a nearly sterile outdoor experience where you never escape development.   I have been on treadmills that were only slightly less interesting.   If you can drive a Ferrari or a Prius on it, it is not a trail, it is TRIPE!   


Do I even need to say it, “It is not a F$%^ing Trail!    TRIPE, TRIPE, TRIPE!  This is part of the 18 miles that San Elijo is selling as an attraction.


The Lake San Marcos Tripe.     PAVED!   I will not buy any blabage about American Disabilites Act Access with this “trail”.   What this picture does not show is how stupidly steep this thing is.  There is no Rascal, Humaround or any other battery powered mobility chair that is going to get up this thing.   The city has a formula for how many miles of trail the community should have for its size and population.   The mileage of this tripe counts towards meeting that trail requirement.  What does that mean?  It could mean less funding for real trails in the future because the city already has its mileage.


This is  part of the “Make A Wish Trail”.    I sure did make a wish.  I wish there were more trails like this in the area.   This IS a trail.  Part of it looks to be pre-developement but portions of it are obviously newer.

This is  the “Secret Trail”  aka Trail 90.    While it is fairly short this is good stuff that not only offers a high quality outdoor experience it is substainually less impacting on existing habitat.  This is the best legal and sanctioned trail out here.   It is also a legacy trail from before the develeopment started.  

Okay so maybe I’m being rash and a trail snob but this is some of the worst stuff I have seen in an urban area interfacing  to open space in San Diego County yet.   The dirt pathways have their place down between the homes, but running this crap all the way up into the open space is just dumb.   It does not meet the needs of the users who would venture up that far and it needlessly destroyed even more habitat by making the “trails”  three to five times wider than they need to be.   Arrrrrrrgh, What a nearly complete failure on the part of those charged with the oversight of this development.   I’m not sure if this failure is due to incompetence, ignorance, or just a simple lack of caring but it certainly did occur.  

You can download a map of all this Tripe  here and go see for yourself.   While it is a good workout it is not a high quality outdoor experience.   If you disagree, you need to start looking for some new places to ride as you are missing out on the good stuff elsewhere in the county.

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3 thoughts on “San Marcos – Its not a F$%)ing Trail!”

  1. As a resident of San Elijo Hills and an avid trail runner and (not-so-avid) mountain biker, I tried to read this review without getting too defensive. You are writing as a mountain biker, and after thinking about your review, I would tend to agree, the trails on the trail map listed as the “18 miles of trails” in San Elijo Hills are not good mountain biking trails.

    I love this area, I grew up in Encinitas and have lived in Carlsbad, La Costa, Del Mar and Solana Beach, and when I decided to settle on a place to raise my family, I chose San Elijo Hills. One of the big draws for me and my wife was the trail network. I realize that the trails here are for the most part not ideal for mountain bikes and are not meadow singletracks, but I appreciate the planning that went into adding trails within the community instead of sidewalks. This is the one community that I have found in North County that implemented a trail network and left open spaces around the concentration of houses, and tried to keep some of the pre-development trails, wildlife and flora intact (I also appreciate the “Keep Out – Give Life a Chance” sign that is directed at the children who walk to and from school and may try to create shortcuts through the area).

    It seems your main complaint is that the trails are too wide and some are paved. This is true, and if the trails were designed for mountain bikers, you would have a legitimate gripe with the trail system, but the trails were not designed for mountain bikers, they were designed for the community of San Elijo HIlls, children who walk to school instead of having their parents drive them, couples who walk down to the coffee shop on the weekends, the guy that takes his dog for a daily 10 minute walk, the people who use the trail along San Elijo Road for hill repeat training for their next half marathon.

    I do a lot of running on these trails, and I appreciate that I am not forced to run on sidewalk, or on the street into oncoming traffic. I use the wide trails, and the paved trails to take me to the lesser known trails around San Elijo Hills, the trails that you seem to be looking for, but did not find here, the trails that aren’t labeled, “Secret” or otherwise, the trails that aren’t on the trail map and aren’t considered part of the 18 miles of trails, although there are more than 18 miles of them. They are here, and I would be glad to take you on a ride. a hike, or a run through some of them, and even buy you a beer afterwards on one condition, that you promise not to write about them, because the less crowded the real secret trails are, the better.

  2. lol that isn’t where the MTB trails are that’s why.. Most of the good MTB trails aren’t public (as in well known) and are hand built, and are usually between advanced and proline level trails unless you ride non mtb single track which is everywhere.

  3. I bookmarked this page a LONG time ago. I am an avid trail-walker (FAST walker) in my 70s. I’m definitely not a mountain-biker, but I agree with everything MTBBill said here. In recent years, the do-gooders have nearly ruined some of my favorite trails (e.g. La Orilla, both west and east of 5; Manchester [east of El Camino Real]; etc.) by making them easy, in other words BORING. They’ve cut through or removed fallen trunks, dug out boulders, widened the narrow spots, smoothed the dirt or added sand, installed 4x6s on slopes, and cut down so-called, non-native trees. When I’ve asked the trail minders about these changes, they’ve said they were to accommodate wheelchairs and strollers (bikes are prohibited). After this “accommodation” work, I do indeed see two-wheeled tracks on the trails, but after a couple weeks, they’re gone. Did the folks demanding easier access for two-wheeled conveyances claim victory and then move on to complain about some other trail that’s too natural for them?

    The only trail I still love is Marian Bear, and bikes are definitely allowed there. The Biltmore off-shoot is great. It’s not an easy trail, but that’s WHY it’s great.

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