Santiago Oaks is one of the better mountain biking spots in all of Orange County. With a lot of technical, rocky descents, this place is geared more toward the downhill crowd, but fun will be had by all bikes regardless.
Up in the hills there is something for intermediate and advanced riders alike, but there are also a lot of beginner trails down in the flats for those looking for a little easier ride.
From Irvine Regional Park, pick an entrance to the Roadrunner Loop
(aka: Blair Witch), and make your way north to Chutes
. Blair Witch is a system of single tracks around the main trail, weaving through bushes and trees in a flat, sandy, flood basin. Try not to get lost.
At a kiosk, the trail drops steeply into a dry creek bed. On the other side is the beginning of Chutes
. Right away you'll see a trail split to the right, this is Chutes Ridgeline
, and is a technical downhill trail. DO NOT CLIMB! Stay left. Some tight switchbacks and a few short, steep, slopes later, the trails cross, putting Ridgeline on your left (scout the gnarly sections for later). While climbing, if you're lucky, you may get to watch someone bomb a tough downhill.
At the top, an easy doubletrack, Barham Ridge
, crosses left and right. Go right. Pass the downhill entrance to Cactus Canyon
on the left, and climb the slightly rocky, but wide, Barham Ridge
for a half-mile. The view of the bowl-shaped hills, and all their trails, is awesome along here.
On the right you'll see Deer Trail
, a really fun, intermediate singletrack. Although most riders descend from here, this trail connects to Weir Canyon Loop, so expect occasional two-way traffic. Deer reaches a low point in the canyon and begins its climb out with a series of tight switchbacks.
When the trail merges with another, make a hard left, almost a u-turn, this is Anaheim Hills
Trail. Follow the trail up a few switchbacks, then try to stay in the saddle while climbing a few challenging rock-falls. When you reach Barham Ridge
again, turn left and head uphill.
Pass the entrances to Coachwhip
, and Deer Trail
, retracing the earlier route to Cactus Canyon
and turn right, downhill. Between the bushes the trail weaves a few times, then a few easy rolling jumps. Soon the easy, banked, quarter-turns start, one on top of the other, getting you into a rhythm. Near the end, there are a few switchbacks, then into the slot at the canyon bottom.
Climb Bumble Bee
to a wide trail convergence above. Bumble Bee
is similar to climbing Chutes
with switchbacks and short, steep slopes to power over.
At the top, turn left on Grasshopper for about 100 yards, then turn left on Hawk. Hawk is a singletrack that tumbles down a number of rock falls. It's steep, loose, and can be intimidating, but very satisfying when done right. No shame in hiking the hard stuff.
Stay left on the dirt road at the bottom of Hawk, then on the next dirt road, make a left on Santiago Creek Trail
. Immediately on the left, you can't miss the entrance to Mountain Goat Enhancement Trail
, so start climbing. On a north facing hill, it twists and turns through more vegetation than other trails here. Similar to Chutes
and Bumble Bee
, this trail also has a few tight switchbacks and short, steep slopes. You may get a peek at the steep, downhill companion trail, Mountain Goat
, along the way.
At the top, Mountain Goat
merges with Barham Ridge
again, and now it's time to head back down Chutes
or Chutes Ridgeline
to the car.
starts immediately opposite the top of Mountain Goat
, and right away drops down a tough rock-fall (to bypass, start down the easier Chutes
and look for a small connector back to the Ridgeline). As the trail balances on the ridge there are a few jumps, more rock-falls, and a few steep, loose slopes before ending with a series of rough, banked turns and some rollers.
Cross the creek again into Blair Witch and make your way back to the car.