San Juan Trail, CA


I spent last week out in California vacationing with the family at the Beach. Good times. I could get used to living on the beach. I’d have to take up surfing though and that would leave little time for mountain biking. I saw a dude riding to the beach with a makeshift surf rack and board rigged to the side of his mountain bike. That was almost as cool as the guy I saw a few years ago riding a Harley with a custom mountain bike tail rack and his sweet bike hanging off the end.

So I didn’t bring the bike to SoCal, but I did meet up with a riding buddy of mine from college. I brought my pedals, shoes and helmet along just in case we could squeeze an early morning ride in. The stars aligned (negotiated with our wives) and he took me to the San Juan trail in the Cleveland National Forest. He said it was the gem trail of Orange County.

I rode his old Intense since he just got a new 5.5. Loved the bike. We set out early and hit the switchbacks up, up, up. We climbed for just over six miles till we hit the Cocktail Rock rest stop. I counted 33 total switchbacks up. The trail was beautiful. Climbing at 6 AM in the fog and then breaking free into the blue sky a few miles up was amazing. My crummy cell phone pictures do no justice to the views we had that morning. See Mountain Bike Bill’s San Juan Trail ride report for details and better pictures.

The San Juan trail continues up another few miles but we opted to cash in on our climbing stock and hit the descent. Six miles went by in a flash. Trying to keep up with Tony on the downhill is like trying to catch a skydiver. I tried to stay close to him because he is so fun to watch and listen to as he hollers down the mountain. I had a few close calls on some choice corners that kept me in check with the trail and out of his rear view.

I grew up in Southern California but never did any mountain biking. It was all BMX in the mid 80s. I was way impressed with San Juan, and II only rode the lower half. In the words of the Govenator, when it comes to biking in Southern California, I’ll be Back!


san juan