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BLT to Noble Canyon

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 4.7 (32) RECOMMENDED ROUTE

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


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Map Key

20.2

Miles

32.5

KM

90%

Singletrack

6,058' 1,846 m

High

3,737' 1,139 m

Low

1,083' 330 m

Up

3,322' 1,012 m

Down

4%

Avg Grade (2°)

27%

Max Grade (15°)

Dogs Leashed

E-Bikes Not Allowed

Features -none-

Overview

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.

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.

Description

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.

Contacts

Shared By:

Leslie Kehmeier with improvements by Lost Justpastnowhere and 1 other

Trail Ratings

  4.7 from 32 votes

#311

Overall
  4.7 from 32 votes
5 Star
72%
4 Star
25%
3 Star
3%
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0%
1 Star
0%
Recommended Route Rankings

#40

in California

#311

Overall
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18,586 Since Apr 18, 2013
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Photos

The Roman Road on lower Noble Canyon
Apr 19, 2013 near Pine Va…, CA
Randy cleaning STH!
Sep 5, 2018 near Pine Va…, CA
Red Tail Roost features a number of different natural wooden features to test your mettle.
Apr 19, 2013 near Pine Va…, CA
Ninja shred!
Sep 5, 2018 near Pine Va…, CA
The lower reaches of the Noble Canyon trail travel through the desert.
Apr 23, 2013 near Pine Va…, CA
Alpine meadow in the Cleveland National Forest.
Apr 24, 2013 near Pine Va…, CA

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Check-Ins

Feb 29, 2020
Cesar Rosas
Awesome ride, trail in good condition, a few patches of snow/ice off trail, not too muddy
May 5, 2019
Kuatbek Tashimov
Nov 25, 2018
carlos H
Nov 18, 2018
Lost Justpastnowhere
May 16, 2018
Don Rizzo
Smooth and fun. Area is so beautiful! 11.4mi
May 5, 2018
Jasmine Board
11.1mi
Apr 22, 2018
J B
Apr 13, 2018
Alphonso Poopoofatty III
21mi