CRHT – Beauty Mountain Wilderness

The last couple of weekends I have spent some time riding and a little bit hiking around the northern part of San Diego County and into Riverside County. I was able to get out on the final northern section of the California Riding and Hiking Trail (CRHT) in San Diego County.

The California Riding and Hiking Trail splitting through the Beauty Mountain Wilderness
The CRHT is not in the wilderness through here but does split it right down the middle
Here is a traditional style CRHT marker. This is along Cooper Cienega Truck Trail
New style CRHT marker
I did not expect to find a pond along the route but it was a really cool surprise.
Hmmmmm, going to have to take another look at this at some point.
This section of the CRHT is part of the Stagecoach 400 bikepacking route
This section of CRHT could use a bit more traffic.
The CRHT a little south of HWY 74 and just east of HWY 371.

One thing that has become obvious during my roaming along the CRHT and research.  When the Pacific Crest Trail was first established  in 1968 it “commandeered” quite a few sections of the then existing CHRT in San Diego County and the Anza area in Riverside County.  In at least two locations I have found the traditional style CRHT markers along the Pacific Crest Trail.   In the years following the establishment of the PCT the desired PCT routes were created/rerouted off the original CRHT, leaving the CRHT to wither away or left unprotected from future development/protection.  The impact of this was not readily apparent until many years later when in 1988, the USFS dubiously banned mountain bikes from the PCT without proper public input.

Early morning hike along the PCT

Pulling back to a larger scale, from the area just east of Cuyamaca Lake to at least Paradise Valley (Highway 74/371) area the California Riding and Hiking Trail and the Pacific Crest Trail typically parallel one another to varying degrees.   San Diego County has the concept of restoring the CRHT as part of its master trails plan but I see the PCT being nearby as a deterrent to getting this historic mountain bike accessible back country trail restored.  I see the PCT sucking the bureaucratic willpower away from the CRHT effort.   I would love to  I am very supportive of the Sharing the PCT movement as well was the removal of the blanket bike ban in Wilderness being spearhead by the Sustainable Trails Coalition.   You should take a look at what those efforts are trying to accomplish.    If both the Sharing the PCT and San Diego County CRHT restoration efforts were to come to fruition the  routes/loops that could be done with both of these trails would be absolutely amazing.     We can all dream!

CRHT Snooping

This weekend I did some more recon on the California Riding and Hiking Trail (CRHT) between Warner Springs and Chihuahua Valley Road. The area pretty much qualifies as the North Back 40 of the county. I have updated my GPS files and interactive map on my site. If I mention a mileage marker or waypoint here, it is referring to that map.

I started this ride at the CRHT and PCT access point near the top of the paved section of Lost Valley Road (CRHT-193A). I have done this section before where you climb along the remnant of old old Lost Valley Road before the Pacific Crest Trail joins in from the south.

Some of the PCTA minions playing games with the CRHT signage.

At this junction some of the minions of the PCTA have messed with the CRHT signs to try and cover them up and in typical PCTA fashion put up no-bike stickers. The CRHT is open to bikes and just because the PCT is using the CRHT doesn’t mean they get to kick bikes off of it.

Climbing along the CHRT which also happens to be the PCT. (Near CRHT-196)

After about 9/10ths of a mile the CRHT (at CRHT 196A) continues north and downhill as the PCT turns to the northeast and uphill. Beyond this point was new CRHT to me.

The CRHT just north of the split off from the PCT.

The CRHT which is still the remnant of the orginal Lost Valley Road was pretty raw beyond this point. Initally there was a fair amount of elevation shed off (200 feet in about .4 miles)

Near the bottom of the initial descent.

After crossing over a stream bed the trail, you will have some punchy climbing bits for the next half half mile. The trail much more trail than old road now. Through this one mile section the trail will leave Cleveland National Forest, cut through a corner of BLM land and into private property.

Typical/Orginal CRHT trail posts/signs.
This private property has an honored easement through it.

The trail comes out to a junction with a farm/ranch road. The CRHT contines north along this ranch road which sees very little usage. The trail gradually losses elevation through here and get a little washy/loose in a spot or two as it descends down to an area called Johnson Canyon on some maps. The ranch road makes a sharp right hand turn in this area (CRHT-199A).

The actual CRHT through Johnson Canyon

The actual trail turns off the road to the west here and is a narrow singletrack. The trail is following a creekbed which is loose and a bit bear up from the horse usage. Between CRHT-199A and CRHT-200A there is good bit sand to slog.

The ranch road looking east at CRHT-199A

A better option if you are not interested in dealing with some sand slogging is to stay on the ranch road when it turns east. It will soon cross the creekbed and turn back to the west. The actual CRHT will rejoin the ranch road at CRHT-200A which bypass just under half a mile of the mostly sand slog.

Less than a quarter of a mile further up the ranch road from where the CRHT rejoins the road you come to a diversion off of the CRHT at CRHT-201.

Shortly before CRHT-201 and the diversion route. Note the traditional CRHT sign post under the tree.

At this point the property owner just north of this point is not honoring the CRHT easement. I do not know the story and legal bits regarding this specific property but the owner had some signs that said “California Hiking and Horse Trail” to divert people around his property.

Considering that this is not the CRHT the property owner who made this signs could call it whatever he wants. Clearly the owner is also anti-bike since he left out the “Riding” part.

The diversion around his property is a dirt road.  I know the the original route is also a dirt road so I’m not so sure there is a net loss here.

This is the north end of this diversion. The CRHT is supposed to be that dirt road on the other side of this gate to the south.

At CRHT 201A, the diversion rejoins the original route.  The property owners has a gate up at this point.

Further up the road (CRHT-202) there is more fencing off to the west preventing access the original trail.  Based on seeing the same type of faux CRHT signs, this seems to be the same property owner.  You have to continue north on the dirt road where it will turns to the west for a short ways until the north and becomes paved.

In 2014, this corner was the staging area for Bucksnort Mountain Trails. There were proper CRHT signs are up here back then. Since then the property owner has put up fencing and removed the proper CRHT signs. New signs stating “California Hiking and Horse Trail” have been erected with arrows showing the diversion of the trail around the property.

After this I made my way north.   The CRHT is alongside the pavement through here.   The CRHT turns off the west alongside Chilhuahua Road.  I turned off to the east on the dirt Lost Valley road.   I did some some 12-15 miles of exploring out this area and made my way back to CRHT trail head where I started from.  It was a perfect type of day to be out on a bike.

Laguna Mountains Trailfest

I had a really nice time up in the Laguna Mountains this past weekend.    The San Diego Mountain Biking Association was putting on the 2nd Annual Laguana Trailfest.    It was a Friday-Sunday event that included lots of organized rides, demo, food, music clinics and much more.   You know, A Festival!   The event was being held and the El Prado group tent camping sites and I wanted to have the comforts of our traveler trail.   So I went up on Wednesday and got spot in the adjacent Meadow Loop campsites.

Casa Del Bill and Nichol for the weekend

With the campsite acquired and setup it was time for a late afternoon spin through the area.  I had a good time and I used up all of the day.

Big Laguna Meadow. Hmmmmm I’m thinking Arbys
I might have gone a hike as well
Trail Goodness!
I caught this guy eyeballing up the compressor line!

I ended up spending the night up in the trailer and headed off to work the next morning and was back on Friday for a weekend of festival.

Bacon cooked in a cast iron skillet over a campfire. Yummo!

Trailfest was an exceptionally well put on event and I had a great time.  I’m already looking forward to it again next year.  One thing I did not manage to do was take any pictures.  Instead take a look at the SDMBA Photo Album of Trail fest.

On the way to Red Tail Roost

I ran into Bengt with whom I worked with for a period of time in Bahrain.  We did the bulk of the Poker Ride together.  Here is his video that as well as some bonus footage of the upper section of Noble Canyon.

On the way to Redtail Roost

I got the campsite through Sunday night so we I would not feel rushed to get out of there on Sunday, so as the festival wound down I went out for another loop that included a climb up to Red Tail Roost down to and then up Aqua Dulce, a run down Gatos and a loop around the meadow with a diversion up to the kiosk.

After a post-ride refreshment it was time to pack up and move on out.   It was a nice weekend to be out on a bike!

Cuyamaca – ABDSP

It was time for a dawn patrol ride in the Cuyamaca Mountains and Anza Borego Desert State Park.   I was at the trailhead bright and early.    Too early was my first thought as it was quite brisk (mid-50’s) and I was dressed for the heat to come.

I started out at the San Diego River Staging area.  The early morning temps  made for a zippy start to help keep the blood flowing.

Still some flower out and about in the fields.

I made my way up the west side single track and then cut over to the at the visitor center and picked up the Green Valley fire road.

Mule Deer, the Ross Perot of the deer family.

I saw turkeys and some deer along way.   When I got to the bottom of Soapstone grade fire road, I took the Upper Green Valley single track.   About half way up the climb you leave the Cuyamaca Rancho State Park and enter the Anza Borrego Desert state park.   Now it looks nothing like a desert up here.

Along the La Cima trail heading east

Normally, I hookup with the La Cima Trail and head west toward Lake Cuyamaca and the California Riding and Hiking Trail (CRHT).  Today I turned east on the La Cima trail where I went for just over a mile up and over a ridge to the La Cima Trailhead.   This was a nice bit of trail.   At the La Cima trailhead I picked up the Sunrise trail and continued east.

Views along the Sunrise trail

What a nice bit of trail.  There were one spot where you could look down into the Anza Borrego Desert and see the Salton Sea.

The Salton Sea is out there in the haze.

I took the Sunrise trail out to its end at the entrance to the Lucky 5 ranch and the northern terminus of Deer Park Road (private property).   This was my first time on this bit of trail and I must say I liked it.  I have heard that there is a trail planned that would stay on the south side of sunrise highway and connect the Sunrise trail all the way over to top of Noble Canyon.   I am all about new trails and I would gladly welcome such a trail.     Interestingly enough there is already a trail that connects those two points together.  The Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) is that trail.  There are access points to the PCT at the the entrance to the Lucky 5 ranch as well as at the top of Noble Canyon.  Unfortunately bikes are off limits on the PCT.   Now this particularly section is not off limits to bikes because it is in wilderness.  No it is strictly off limits to bikes because the PCT has a blanket ban on bikes mostly because the Pacific Crest Trail Association (PCTA) feels bike should not be on “their” trail.  (I’m grossly generalizing their position that from their perspective makes sense)   To me it seems to be a nearly a no brainer that allowing bikes on the PCT section that is on the north side of the Sunrise Highway from Lucky 5 to Noble would alleviate the need to build a trail between those two points on the south side of Sunrise Highway.   This makes me wonder, would the Pacific Crest Trail Association (PCTA) rather see additional environmental impacts created in this area to create a redundant trail just so they could continue to keep bikes off of the PCT?  Is their need to maintain a certain trail experience greater than their land stewardship goals?   Would the organizations that support the PCTA simultaneously oppose the creation of the new trail on the south side of the trail due to environmental impacts while also opposing the sharing of the section PCT on the north side of Sunrise highway?   Things that make you go hmmmmmmmm.

Well after my deep thoughts I started working my way back the California Riding and Hiking trail.  It was well into mid-morning at this point and things had warmed up to near perfect cycling temps.  Along the way I came upon the fellow above.

 

After a bit of snake and camera juggling, I was back on my way and rejoined the CRHT which took me to Soapstone and Stonewall fire roads followed by the Coldsprings trail and the then back to the staging area via the westside single

Good times on the trails!