“A smooth prelude to much more, this sometimes steep, but shaded road will get your blood flowing.”
— David Gregg
Starting from the ranger station, ride east, uphill, into Silverado Canyon on the wide, shaded, paved road. At first it's a mild climb, but after a short distance it begins to tilt more seriously upward. The climb averages 7% and is a relatively constant climb with no breaks. The road does not intersect with anything as it's the only way up the belly of this right-curving valley. I would normally give this a beginner rating due to being paved, but the slope is pretty steep.
Although the higher elevations of the Santa Ana Mountains are mostly dry chaparral, the deep canyons provide shade and water for a surprisingly lush forest of mixed trees. There is also a very large amount of wildlife to be seen. While still close enough to human populations to make encounters uncommon, be especially aware of larger mammals such as deer and mountain lions, and report any cat sightings to local authorities.
At almost the three-mile mark exactly the pavement ends at a right-hand, uphill switchback that straddles a small stream. From there, the rutted fire road takes over and another trail begins.