Mountain Bike Bill, Get the Dirt on the Dirt

Blue Ridge D

images/Trails/BlueRidge/BlueRidge-12AUG05-24.jpg    Located in the San Gabriel Mountains high above the town of Wrightwood this 18 mile ride has some expansive views while giving you the opportunity for a great cardio workout.  Nearly all of this ride is on a mountain forest service dirt road.  There is a bit of singletrack near the ride ends that will have even the most brazen of fire road despisers glad they did all the double track work to get to it.  With the ride starting at 7,381 feet you will find an escape from the blistering summer heat of the Mojave desert to the north and the San Bernardino area to the south.  On the day I did this ride in August, the afternoon temperature was around 70 degrees.  This ride is often referred to at the "Blue Ridge 'D'" due to the shape of the route on the map.    The trailhead is maybe 20 minutes from Interstate 15 so this could be a great trail to take a break from a long road trip. 

Directions:    From San Diego, take I-15 north until it merges with I-215 north of San Bernardino. Stay on I-15 for 7.6 more miles and take the CA-138 exit.  Turn left onto CA-138 and take it 8.5 miles. Turn left onto CA-2.  5.1 miles later you will pass through the town of Wrightwood.  At around 9 miles after you turned onto CA-2, There is a split in the road.  Go to the left and uphill to stay on CA-2 (This is also where the Mountain High Ski resort is at).  About two miles latter look for a vista turnout for Inspiration Point on your right.   Pull in and park.

Blue Ridge Blog PostsMap: Below is a topographic map of this ride and below is the elevation profile TOPO! file here.


images/Trails/BlueRidge/BlueRidgeD-Profile.JPG        GPS Files for this route: TOPO!, GPX, GDB, KML



images/Trails/BlueRidge/BlueRidge-12AUG05-35.jpgimages/Trails/BlueRidge/BlueRidge-12AUG05-20.jpg     From the parking lot at Inspiration Point (Waypoint BR-ST), go across the road and start up an old paved road which is forest service road 3N06.   The views aren't bad from here and they just keep getting better.   You will not have reached the one mile mark yet when you will see the Pacific Crest Trail singletrack crossing the road.   The PCT parallels this route for just about its entirety and cuts across the route many times.  Sadly it is off limits to bikes.
images/Trails/BlueRidge/BlueRidge-12AUG05-03.jpgimages/Trails/BlueRidge/BlueRidge-12AUG05-04.jpg     At 2.4 miles you will reach the Blue Ridge campground. This part is really important as the junction  for the singletrack you are going to love later on in this ride is poorly marked.  As you ride along the road, look for the view of the ski lift labeled "Discovery" on your left.  Just before the last tree opening into a field is the trail (BR-A).  The picture to left is the view you are looking for.   If you go past the sign shown in the picture on the right, you have missed it.

images/Trails/BlueRidge/BlueRidge-12AUG05-05.jpgimages/Trails/BlueRidge/BlueRidge-12AUG05-01.jpg    But for now you are going to keep going straight.   You will continue climbing from this point and you will soon pass by a pond on your left used to store the water for the snow machines in the winter. This area wide open as a result of a wildfire in 1997.  Continue climbing and before too long you will reach the highest point of this ride at 8,461 ft. 
images/Trails/BlueRidge/BlueRidge-12AUG05-06.jpgimages/Trails/BlueRidge/BlueRidge-12AUG05-18.jpg    As you crest this highpoint, you will see the road sweeping downhill and curving to the left across more of the old burn area.  Soon you will come the turnoff for the Guffy Campground turnoff at 4.3 miles. (Waypoint BR-B on the map).  Go to your right around the usually locked gate and continue traveling downhill.

Pan Shot
One the views from early on in the ride

images/Trails/BlueRidge/BlueRidge-12AUG05-07.jpgimages/Trails/BlueRidge/BlueRidge-12AUG05-09.jpg    Pay attention around the 6 mile mark as you will come to the intersection with FS3N39.  Its is very hard to miss this junction but with all downhill speed you are carrying at this point you could be tempted to keep going downhill. Don't do it.  Stay straight and turn uphill staying on FS3N06. (To the left is a picture of the junction which is waypoint BR-C on the map). The road soon becomes a bit more rocky and quickly becomes exceptionally shaded by tall Jeffery and Ponderosa pines.  While you are still climbing in this section it is more mellow than your earlier efforts.   
images/Trails/BlueRidge/BlueRidge-12AUG05-25.jpgimages/Trails/BlueRidge/BlueRidge-12AUG05-23.jpg    At waypoint BR-D on the map is the junction with the Acorn trail.  I do not know the status of this trail as far as wither mountain bikes are allowed or not, but I did not see any no-bike signs.  If you have any information on it please email me the goods.  Also at this spot is another of the many junctions with the Pacific Crest Trail along this route. It is most certainly off-limits to bikes, which is a real shame since a good portion of this route would be on singletrack instead of a fireroad.  Anyway, as you continue along the fireroad from this point you will almost certainly be amazed by the ever increasingly gorgeous views of the north face of Pine Mountain and the Sheep Mountain Wilderness to the south.
images/Trails/BlueRidge/BlueRidge-12AUG05-10.jpgimages/Trails/BlueRidge/BlueRidge-12AUG05-12.jpg     At 8.3 miles you reach the end of the road where you can peer down into the Cajon Pass far below and to the west and the Mojave Desert to the north.  Please take the time to take in everything as the vista from here is too great to simply gloss over.

Views from the end of the road


images/Trails/BlueRidge/BlueRidge-12AUG05-02.jpgimages/Trails/BlueRidge/BlueRidge-12AUG05-22.jpg     Once you had your fill of the end of the road views, head back the way you came and resist the strong temptation to hop on a few sections of the Pacific Crest Trail. For some reason the climbing seemed easier to me headed in this direction.   Once you get past the peak just after the Guffy Campground, the ride turns into a fire road bombfest for the next 1.75 mile on your way back down to the Blue Ridge Campground..

images/Trails/BlueRidge/BlueRidge-12AUG05-26.jpgimages/Trails/BlueRidge/BlueRidge-12AUG05-28.jpg     Once you get back to the Blue Ridge Campground, your trip counter should be around 14.1 miles at this point. Hang a right onto the Blue Ridge trail and start smiling.   This is an exceptional stretch of mostly buff singletrack that is just as pretty as it is fun.  There are a few switchbacks to negotiate near the top of the trail but besides that the most difficult part of the trail will be controlling your speed.  You can absolutely reach near-ludicrous speed as you cash out around 1,100 feet of elevation in just over two miles.  The trail is nice and firm but venture off line and you will find much less than optimal traction in the adjacent soil.  So control your speed because all of the trees along the trail could cause some Bono-fide issues for those going off trail.

Views from along the Blue Ridge singletrack.



     Sadly at 16.4 miles after crossing a bridge and a quick uphill the trail will dump you out on CA-2 (Waypoint BR-F).  From here you hang a left and go uphill on the pavement.  Shortly you will come to a split in the road with the Big Pine highway heading off to the right and downhill and CA2 heading to the left and uphill.  Go uphill and left and grind up the pavement until you return to Inspiration Point where you parked at 18.6 miles.  

Evening view from Inspiration Point
Evening view from Inspiration Point.