So I have been riding around a killer Santa Cruz Bronson (Gen 1) for a handful of years now. Its a singletrack carving machine, excellent for climbing and holds its own in the chunky bits. I love it! I am often an in-between medium and large size bike guy. The Bronson was a medium and I probalbly should have went with a large. I really did not want to mess with a new bike at this point because all of them seem to be longer, lower and slacker. I wanted a tweak not a huge change.
So I have been looking for a large gen1 frame of the same color for a while at a good price. Nada, its been all complete bikes. I was pretty stoked when I found a complete bike with the frame I wanted at a good price. It was more than I wanted to pay for a frame but supply and demand rules. I did get some nice components and spares out of the deal.
I merged the best bits of the two bikes onto the new frame. I stayed with my wheelset(stans rims, Chris King hubs), drivetrain(1×11 30-50), Hope E3 brakes, CCDB air shock, Fox Transfer dropper, saddle and handlebars. Along with the frame I used the “new” bottom bracket and headset (mango color coordinated Chris King bits). I am also swapping out my Fox 34 fork and trying out the Rockshox Pike fork with the Push AC3 coil conversion.
A couple of weekends ago I did a combination of hiking and biking in the Descanso and Cuyamaca area doing a bit more of my ongoing project to assess all of the California Riding and Hiking Trail segments in the county. I have updated the interactive map on my page to reflect some of the details.
(Disclaimer: I’m going to ramble in this post and make some references you may have to follow along with on my site and other linked documents. This post is just as much notes for my own use later as it is something to share.)
A good portion of the CRHT has been lost to road construction over the years in the Descanso area. The trail still exists leaving Descanso to the north and all the way up through Cuyamaca Rancho State Park. Unfortunately a large majority of it is off limits to bikes due to a state wilderness designation in 1982.
The State Wilderness designation inside the boundary of the State Park is an unnecessary designation as all of the preservation goals could have been achieved using other existing State Park systems administrative tools. It is my opinion that for many decades now there has been a cadre of politicians out there that view the number of acres of wilderness they gain every year as a feather in their hat. So while the designation of this existing state park land in 1982 increased those wilderness acreage numbers, it did not protect any additional land. It was already protected from development. What did it do? Well it banned cyclist access to an existing multi-use trail that was established in the 1940s.
At the north end of Descanso Trail Road, the CRHT is once again a trail. It is a single track and mostly climbs for about 2 miles to Cuyamaca State Park and the southern boundary of one of its segments of wilderness. There is no other legal access for cyclists beyond that point. This section south of the state park is a bit over grown in spots and the tread could use some TLC n spots. The CRHT continues north as singletrack and is better maintained by the state park. After maybe 1.5 miles the CRHT comes out onto South Boundary fireroad. South Boundary fireroad is not in designated wilderness. The CRHT follows South Boundary fireroad north to the junction of Arroyo Seco Fireroad which is cherry stemmed out of the wilderness. At the end of the Arroyo Seco Fireroad the CRHT continues northward as the Fox trail which is singletrack.
The the Fox trail ascends steeply in spots to the junction of the West Mesa trail and finally the Fir trail which ends at the Fern Flat fireroad and the northern boundary of the West Mesa wilderness. This is a superb section of the backcountry in the park with incredible views both to the west and east.
When the Fir trail (aka CRHT) reaches Fern Flat fireroad the CRHT turns north as the fireroad until it veers off to the east as the Azalea Glen trail. This trail is not in the wilderness but it still off limits to bike. The trail is often quite steep and would be pretty technical in many spots in the upper half. Near the bottom of the eastern flank of Cuyamaca peak the CRHT (single track at this point) splits off to the north from the Azalea Glen trail and is once again open to bikes (and named CRHT). After some meandering it then crosses HWY79 and proceeds around the west and north flanks of Stonewall Peak.
However when it get to the junction of the Los Caballos trail it becomes off-limits to bikes. Just a few years ago this section of the CRHT was open to bikes northward all the way to the Soapstone Grade fireroad. Where the CRHT joins Soapstone Grade Road it once again become open to bikes. This was the northern apex of assessment on these latest outings.
While I don’t know the whole story, I looked up the latest approved general plan for the state park and have some theories that I hope to get some clarifications on with some other people. The 2015 approved park general plan called for the expansion of several cultural and natural preserves inside the boundary of the park. It looks like the expansion of those preserves brought with it the loss of cyclist access to the CRHT in those expanded areas.
Also in the general plan were some wilderness boundary adjustment that should have opened up the Blue Ribbon trail to cyclist in the southern area of the park, but as of last weekend, the no bikes and wilderness signs are still up. It would have been really nice if the CRHT would have been cherry stemmed out of the Wilderness to restore cyclist access to this historic route that predates even the Pacific Crest Trail. This really falls into the category of bitching at this point since I did not participate in the public comment period when the revised general plan was being worked.
While I have not done my due diligence at this point to find out the whys, it looks quite a bit like the park is a bit slow to implement the portions of the approved plan that would benefit cyclists. One thing is for certain the classic Cuyamaca “Grand Loop” will never seem as grand after seeing what the loop could be if cyclists were allowed to ride the CRHT as it was intended.
The Freeman Creek trail located in the Giant Sequoia National Monument is a pretty unique trail that drops you down through the Freeman Grove of Giant Sequoia Redwoods. The size of these ancients of the woods will skew your perspective of big in regards to living things. This grove is the largest grove in wilderness condition (having never been logged) outside of the Sequoia National Park further to the north.
While the Bear Creek and Camp Nelson trails see more MTB action, this is a trail that is worth checking out if have the time. (At least based the last time I rode it)
Shortly after this video was shot in 2006, the trail was severely sanitized by a trail crew using a bull-dozer. The trail eventually eroded back into something akin to single-track. In 2020, a wildfire went through the grove. Some of my friends that live in the area have not been back on the trails since the fires but the area was hit pretty hard. Wildfires are part of the lifecycle of the Giant Sequoia’s so I suspect they survived.
At 6:18 you can really see how these trees are adept at surviving wildfires. It is worth noting that the rider (JD) is about 6’4″ to give some perspective on the size of that trunk.
At 7:14 there is a scene of me riding on a fallen log. The other rider on the trunk is 6′ tall. Take note of the perspective when I start to ride back and he is standing on the trunk part and I’m about to start rolling from the base/root part.
From 8:00 until the end of the video, we are actually riding a short section of the Summit Trail (FS 31E14) on our way back to the Quaken Aspens campground where we were staying.
While the Bear Creek and Camp Nelson trails see more MTB action, this is a trail that is worth checking out if have the time. (At least based the last time I rode it)
I have a new video up for the San Diego Flume Trail as well as new page on my site. This is nice little gem of a trail tucked away in El Monte valley where you might find a nice serving of Chicken Noodle Soup for the MTB Soul this time of year.
I spent a few a more hours out in the El Monte Valley area this past week refreshing my memory on a couple of trails in the area. While out on the flume trail east of El Monte Park out I came across of leftover Kittle snacks.
I have added a page to my site for this trail. In the course of making the page I also added the trails in that area to the Trailforks database as well as mirroring my recommended route discussed on that site as well. I will be doing some more of that in future but that is for another day.
I also finished up a video from Nichol and I riding this trail during our camping outing at Lake Jennings.
If you have not done the San Diego Flume trail before, it is worth taking a checking out this time of year when its exceptionally green out there. It really is an nice little gem tucked away near Lakeside.
You can get in 10 miles or so, a climb or two, a quick a hike-a-bike or two and maybe even find a nice serving of Chicken Noodle Soup for the MTB soul.
Located near the tiny community of Green River in Washington, the Palisades Trail (#1198) offers some stunningly great views, superbly thin single track that varies between super flowy to rooty that should challenge just about anyone’s bike handling skills. While there are quite a few ways to get to the top of the trail, the three times I have done this trail I have climbed the Ranger Creek trail which a hefty about of work but it is also an exceptional trail You can check out my description and pictures of that route
MTBProject also some other routes that include the Palisade trail that are worth checking out.
This video was shot using a GoPro Hero 5 Black and Feiyutech 3-axis gimbal. I really disliked the audio of the Hero 5 and it was one of the reasons that this footage languished on my hard drive for well over a year. I used Adobe Preimere and Audition to clean it up but there are still some funkiness to the audio. I’m really glad to have upgrade to the Hero 8 since then which has much better audio.
This past weekend, I did a “nearcation” at the Lake Jennings Campground in Lakeside. While enjoying the weekend I checked out the nearby Flume Trail. It is called the “Historic Flume Trail” in many sources the west end of it is referred to as the Helix Flume Trail. To further complicate matters there is another trail out of El Monte Park to west that is called the flume trail that only crosses over the actual Flume trail.
All of the naming up-bub aside, The Flume Trail follows along the route of the a 35-mile long wooden water flume that was completed in 1889 that brought water from Lake Cuyamaca in San Diego’s East County into the La Mesa area and beyond. The flume employed numerous cuts, several tunnels, and more than 300 wooden trestles wood to maintain a uniform fall of 4 feet, 8 inches to the mile. Two of the tunnels can be seen from along the segment of the trail we rode.
The completion and filling of El Capitan Reservoir in the 1930s put an end to the flume’s usefulness, but it was plagued with issues well before that such as a trestle collapse in 1919 and just not enough water moving and evaporation. The nine million board-feet of lumber used for the flume itself and the trestles were scavenged a long time ago.
If you are not staying at Lake Jennings campground like we were you will have to put in some work to get up to the flume. Wither you start at the Helix Water district end or the El Monte Park end you will have a relentless set of switchback to climb up to get the the Flume trail proper. 10-16% grade and around 400 feet of elevation to gain. Here is a route I did that involved using both the El Monte and Helix switchbacks. (I don’t recommend this route, use one or the other and do an out and back on the flume) Once up on the flume things are pretty flat except where there were trestles in those spots you will have to descend down and then back up the other side of the small ravines. There are a couple of spots that will be hike-a-bike for most folks, but they are very short.
Our effort started from the campground was easy with four miles and change from and camp out and the same back. We turned around at the Cape Horn Tunnel.
This section of the flume was not shown on Trailforks so I added it. This was my first time adding a trail to the site and the GPS track could use a little cleaning up but you can find it on there now. There are some other trails that need to be added as well.
Raptor Ridge (Located near Escondido) the Mule Hill and San Pasqual Valley Trails goes between Lake Hodges to the west and along the agriculture fields to the east in San Pasqual Valley. The high point along this route is Raptor Ridge. There is a little something for most XC style riders as beginners can enjoy non-technical relatively flat terrain on either side of the Raptor Ridge and work their way into climbing the ridge.
This footage is from an outing where the trail conditions are pretty much perfect. AKA Hero Dirt! Here is my webpage on Raptor Ridge along with Mule Hill and the San Pasqual Valley.
This trail is also part of the the Coast-to-Crest Trail which when fully completed will travel 70 miles from Vulcan Mountain near Julian to Del Mar on the coast.
Yeah Yeah, Yeah stop your rambling Bill and give me a track to follow already. Strava for this ride (Includes a lot more stuff than just Raptor Ridge)
This has been a pretty awesome week. Sunday I did my first MTB ride since my heart valve replacement surgery in November. The big litmus test was having enough upper body strength to lift the bike up onto my over the bed truck rack on my truck. I had also been doing some tooling around on the bike on the street and curbs and not being jostled so it was time to give the sternum (along with its titanium wire reinforcements) some mild strength tests.
The climb up onto the ridge was good and it was so nice to be doing some huffing and puffing on a real bike out in the sunshine. I also checked out the Lower San Ysabel truck trail. All of which was in good shape. My sternum felt pretty good but there was mild discomfort over some of the chatterish stuff. None of the discomfort rose to the level of a sneeze! All together about I did 15 miles and change with about 1,400 feet of climbing.
Wednesday, I went out to South Lake Hodges. Well I actually parked on the North Side and took the bridge over. My tenure at riding this place predates the bridge so I still refer to them as two separate places. But I did the typical Southside stuff and then made my way over to the Highland Valley trail. At this point it was pretty obvious that most of my workouts have been no longer than 60 minutes so I took bit of a break. After that I was back at it and the Highland Valley trail was a fun as I remembered it. I decided to do a touch of road connection and made my way over to Raptor Ridge. I was pretty tired after climbing Raptor Ridge and I was going to close out day with a return back via Mule Hill.
I was almost back to the kiosk area of Mule Hill when I was stopped by an SDGE crew who had the trail closed for some pipeline work. There was no detour so I had to backtrack about 2 miles to get back onto Highland Valley road to get then work my way back around. The trail should have been close at the last trail junction where people could divert around. While this was inconvenience for my tired legs. There was a hiker who got turned around that was really bummed. I did make them aware of this and hopefully they apply some common sense on where they close at for the remainder of their workdays.
All together I got in about 25miles and 1,200 feet of climbing. It was more than I had planned and I was well whooped. It is so good to be back on the dirt and certainly better to be on the dirt than in the dirt!
The migration of videos to YouTube continues. This installment is from Amasaback Mesa in Moab Utah from a 2008 Roadtrip. This was Day Two of trip and we had started the day on Little Creek Mesa near Hurricane Utah. The Hurricane/St George Area is such a good halfway spot between San Diego and Fruita, Moab or the North Rim of the Grand Canyon if you are itching to get in some riding on what would otherwise be a long travel day.
This video is of the main route up onto the mesa and back down. I’m looking forward to getting back up on that Mesa and playing around. As I understand it there are now a couple of different routes you can take coming back down with the most aggressive being Captain Ahab. I like the idea of base camping out of Moab for a much longer amount of time than before and really getting to know the place. Plans, I got Plans!
All this remastering videos has really got me jonesing to get back on some trails. This video was from April of 2004 inZushi, Japan. The area was also known as “Duck Pond” as one of the entrances into the area required a righteous hike-a-bike up a trail behind a duck pond. This area was also part of bigger adventures into the Tennin, Takatori, Yokohama Woods and Kamakura trail systems. I had some really good times out in this area.
At 1:40 you will see us pass by the back of the Kumano Shrine which was first built in the eighth year of the Japanese Genroku Era which equates to 1696AD. As best as I can research it was last refurbished in 1978.
At 2:52 and 4:45 until the end. We are on the Asaina-kirodoshi. It is one of the seven greater notches through the mountains leading to and from Kamakura. Kamakura is surrounded on three sides by steep mountain and the notches served as defensive passages and passes through the mountains back in “the day”. “The day” in this particular case one was 1241AD.