MTB Project Logo

BLT to Noble Canyon

 20 votes


20.2 Miles 32.5 Kilometers




1,240' 378 m


-3,506' -1,069 m



Avg Grade (3°)


Max Grade (14°)

6,079' 1,853 m


3,731' 1,137 m



All Clear 43 days ago
Dry History

Getting forecast...

A one-of-a-kind ride through the ridges, meadows and canyons of the Santa Rosa Mountains.

Leslie Kehmeier


There's a lot of good riding in the West, but if you haven't done BLT to Noble Canyon, then you've missed one of the premier rides in the country.

BLT stands for Big Laguna Trails. The area is a network of singletrack trails in the Cleveland National Forest. It's a unique alpine setting within an hour drive of San Diego, not something you'd expect to find near the coast of California.

The BLT system connects with Noble Canyon, a trail that is actually three rides in one; a descent through alpine meadows, then through oak forests, to the dry desert.
Dogs: Leashed

Need to Know

  • Access to the Cleveland National Forest requires an Adventure Pass. Yearly Pass = $30. Daily Pass = $5. More info here. A daily pass can be purchased at the general store in Pine Valley.
  • This is a point to point route starting at the Laguna Mountain Volunteer Center (Red Tail Roost) and ending at the Lower Noble Canyon Trailhead (Pine Creek Picnic Area).
  • To avoid a shuttle, you can make this a loop ride from the Lower Noble Canyon Trailhead (Pine Creek Picnic Area). Turn right out of the parking area and ride up Pine Creek Rd. It's 6.6 miles to the intersection with Laguna Meadow Rd where you can hop on the upper reaches of the trail or 8.1 miles to Penny Pines Trailhead to ride all of Noble Canyon.


The BLT to Noble Canyon ride starts from Red Tail Roost (Laguna Mountain Volunteer Center). From here, ride Red Tail Roost to the left when you exit the parking area. Pedal up an easy climb before a big downhill stretch. The initial part of the descent is open with big swooping turns before dropping into the pines. If you like technical challenges there are a few sections of log features to test your skills.

The Red Tail Roost section dumps out onto a dirt road. Turn left here and bear left again going up Agua Dulce Creek. The road will climb gradually and eventually funnel into a singletrack. Keep climbing a bit more before a short descent to cross Agua Dulce Creek before pedaling uphill to an intersection.

Continue on the singletrack ahead to access the Gatos section of the BLT, a trail that's been rerouted and improved. It's a fun section that climbs and contours through the pines. Stay right at one intersection along the way.

Gatos spills out onto the edge of Big Laguna Meadow. From here, stay left and skirt the outer edge to the west. Stay right at the next intersection to continue through the meadow.

At the following intersection, go left through the gate. This is the Water of the Woods section and a little extra credit singletrack as you work your way around to Big Laguna Lake. There's a short climb followed by a quick descent before circumnavigating a small lake. From here, the trail continues through an open area with a few clusters of big boulders strewn throughout. The trail then bends around to the left towards the south end of the Big Laguna Lake.

Crossing the dam of the lake is a bit lumpy and bumpy but provides a great view of this beautiful alpine setting. Keep your eyes to the right side of the lake and the lower hillside on the north side of the valley ahead - that's where you are going.

Turn left to access the singletrack that skirts the meadow and pines along the east side of Big Laguna Lake. You'll be pedaling uphill to the north towards Noble Canyon trail.

At the top of the meadow you'll come to an intersection. Stay right on the Noble Canyon Connector (left will take you directly there) to access the trail in its entirety from the Penny Pines Trailhead.

The connector is a short section through mostly open meadow and a few clusters of oaks. Grab a snack and a break here before starting one of the most exciting descents you've ever ridden.

Noble Canyon starts out fairly smooth with a slight climb. With the technical challenges kept to a minimum, it's possible to enjoy the long views across the mountains.

You'll cross Pine Creek Road a couple of times along with the intersection to Indian Creek. This intersection is important when riding the Cuyamaca to Noble Canyon - IMBA Epic.

The smooth and fast descent continues until you reach a horse gate. The route becomes much more technical here as it enters the canyon and transitions from forest to chaparral. The trail texture changes to blocky rocks and drops. If you can handle it, speed and momentum is helpful through this kind of terrain.

When the terrain and vegetation changes again from chaparral to desert, the trail narrows and becomes more exposed above the canyon floor. The route is mostly descending with a few short climbs and includes two highly regarded rocky, technical sections: Stairway to Hell and Roman Road.

Towards the bottom of Noble Canyon, the trail will come to an intersection. Turn left here to take a longer route back to the Lower Noble Canyon Trailhead (Pine Creek Picnic Area). This section is smooth with a gradual climb and descent.


You & this Featured Ride

Rate Quality

   Clear Rating

Rate Difficulty

Get On-Trail Navigation

Send to Phone
Your Check-Ins


Dec 16, 2017
Johnny Zadroga
26mi — 5h 00m
Dec 11, 2017
Neil Martin
Sep 4, 2017
Chepe Mimi
Aug 6, 2017
Ryan Henderson
Best trail ever
Jul 16, 2017
Jed Jirak
Jun 3, 2017
Chris Sip
Awesome and varied trail all the way 14.3mi — 1h 39m
May 29, 2017
nathan dollick
Dec 8, 2016
Marcel Mijares
A new fav — 2h 18m

Stewarded By

Trail Ratings

  4.7 from 20 votes


  4.7 from 20 votes
5 Star
4 Star
3 Star
2 Star
1 Star


in California


546 Views Last Month
12,384 Since Apr 18, 2013
Difficult Difficult



MTB Project is part of the REI Co-op family,
where a life outdoors is a life well lived.

Shop REI Mountain Bike

MTB Project is supported by

Support Your Local IMBA Chapter