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Whiting + The Luge

Difficult

Trail

14.9 mile 24.0 kilometer loop
60% Singletrack
Difficult

Elevation

Ascent: 1,911' 583 m
Descent: -1,912' -583 m
High: 2,304' 702 m
Low: 804' 245 m

Grade

Avg Grade: 5% (3°)
Max Grade: 35% (19°)

Dogs

Unknown
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Map Key

Trail shared by Dave Gregg with improvements by max max

Two of South Orange County's popular loops combined into one adventure.

Dave Gregg

Electric Mountain Bikes Not Allowed

Features -none-

Borrego Trail is sign-posted ONE-WAY for bikes! You can only ride north, uphill, unless you walk the bike. All other trails have no such restrictions.

Overview

This is a trail combination that will, unless you ride often, wipe you out. Halfway through the hugely popular Whiting Ranch Loop change course, and cross into Cleveland National Forest to complete another loop, The Luge, before returning to finish Whiting Ranch.

Need to Know

Whiting closes at sunset, but The Luge is in national forest, where night riding is legal.

This place, particularly Borrego Trail, can, and will, get a ton of hikers, especially on weekends. Please be nice.

Description

Ride along Portola Pkwy, a busy suburb street, for about a mile and turn right after passing the Ralphs super market. The trailhead is on the left of Ralphs. Follow the snaking Borrego Trail for 1.5 miles through sandy, creek-bottom, tree and cactus-filled terrain that climbs only slightly. Be alert, there have been numerous mountain lion sightings through this sliver of a canyon. Ride with someone. Think and act BIG.

Borrego merges into a wide dirt trail, Mustard Road. The road twists steeply up to the left, disappearing behind the hillside (if you go left, climb the small singletrack on the right after a few hundred feet. This is a super fun, extra credit wrinkle called Cattle Pond Loop that re-joins Mustard Road close to where it left.) To the right, the trail bends around a trail kiosk, then onto a few more easy turns. However, don't be fooled, the easy turns hide the brutal 3/4th-mile climb to Four Corners. Around the last blind right turn, climb the final rise to Four Corners, a convergence of trails from all directions. With amazing views, a trail kiosk, benches and a drinking fountain, it's a great place for a break.

Climb the uphill trail to the left, behind the bench/kiosk. This will take you down to Santiago Canyon Rd, a 55mph twisting, paved road. Head east, downhill, for about a quarter-mile, very carefully cross the road and turn left, uphill, on Modjeska Grade Rd, an extremely steep, paved road. In less than a half-mile, slide past the low, rusted gate on the right into a large, dirt staging area with a great view of the mountains beyond. A well established singletrack called Santiago Truck Trail rises into the barren, rocky landscape colored by pale desert plants and infinite shades of brown.

The climb is long. There's a few steep slopes. But there's nothing long... AND steep. The views south and west over south Orange County are stunning. After nearly three miles of climbing, the trail lightly descends, flattens, then becomes a strip perched atop the mountains razor edge. Look ahead and right of the trail and notice a dome-shaped hill flying a large American flag proudly, ammo boxes filled with notebooks and pens chained to its pole. Rest. Take a picture. Sign the book.

Leaving flag hill, at first the slope is moderate. The trail begins its cliff-side exposure, twisting easily a few times to a right-hand bend featuring drop-offs on each side. From there The Luge gets steep as the trail becomes a bobsled half-pipe, snaking along the cliff, with one-foot rock ledges and stones, loose and embedded, spread generously along its one-plus mile length. It will pound your body with a constant stream of impacts, and your forearms and calves will scream from the relentless push downhill.

At the end, make your way to Live Oak Canyon Rd, a 35mph paved road, and turn right. Live Oak tilts steeply downhill and soon you'll be nearing the speed limit, so be careful. At the famous Cook's Corner turn right on Santiago Canyon Rd and, from well outside the white line, climb the almost perfect 5% grade for one mile. On the left, across the road, enter the Santiago Equestrian Center and, between the building and the hillside, follow the dirt fire road up to the ridge.

There are two trails back into Whiting Ranch from here - Vulture View up to the left, and Santiago Ranch Rd down to the right. Both ways will eventually get to the same place, Sage Scrub Trail. Then it's just a matter of finishing the Whiting Ranch Loop.

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Check-Ins

Apr 24, 2020
Gilbert Yu
14.7mi — 2h 06m
Apr 17, 2020
Gilbert Yu
Some very shallow stream crossings, great hero dirt 17.2mi
Apr 3, 2020
Gilbert Yu
14.7mi — 3h 15m
Dec 21, 2019
Vick Vai
Sep 7, 2019
Flavia Fleischer
15.5mi — 2h 36m
Jul 7, 2019
Michael Gehris
Got lost on the asphalt a couple of times. Awesome and well earned downhill.
Jun 9, 2019
vikas vaid
May 30, 2019
Greg Fiske

Trail Ratings

  4.2 from 34 votes

#1

in Lake Forest

#377

Overall
  4.2 from 34 votes
5 Star
38%
4 Star
47%
3 Star
12%
2 Star
3%
1 Star
0%
Ride Rankings

#1

in Lake Forest

#52

in California

#377

Overall
357 Views Last Month
21,672 Since Mar 13, 2014
Difficult

0%
0%
21%
0%
79%
0%

Photos

Video of the Luge Down hill shot by DPCAero.com
Feb 10, 2016 near Trabuco…, CA
Riding The Luge
Dec 22, 2015 near Trabuco…, CA
Down the Luge. Shot by DPCAero.com
Feb 10, 2016 near Portola…, CA
Flag pole on the top of the Luge. Photo by DPCAero.com
Feb 10, 2016 near Trabuco…, CA
If you made it to the Flag pole - you made it half way! Now watch out for speed on the descent and some obstacles on the descent - be careful they come up fast! Better safe then sorry!
Feb 16, 2015 near Trabuco…, CA
My first time riding ‘The Luge’ cautiously.
Nov 26, 2017 near Trabuco…, CA

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