“Ride snow-patched pine forests to fiery high desert canyons; a feast of Southern California terrain
— Leslie Kehmeier
This IMBA Epic unfolds in the Cleveland National Forest near the former gold mining town of Julian, California. It connects trails established centuries ago by the Kumeyaay Indians, and crosses into the awe-inspiring Noble Canyon
. From snow-patched pine forests to fiery high desert canyons, riders will experience the full range of California terrain and climactic conditions.
The ride is a mix of singletrack, fire road, steep climbs, technical descents, all taking place in the mountains and deserts near Julian, CA.
Need to Know
Snow may be present at higher elevations during the winter. Summer months mean hot temperatures over the entire route.
From west to east, the Cuyamaca to Noble Canyon
Epic ride is a link up of East Mesa Fire Road
, Deer Park
Trail, Indian Creek
Trail and the upper reaches of Noble Canyon
The route begins and ends at the horse parking area in Cuyamaca State Park. Ride East Mesa Fire Road
south along Hwy 79 to a left turn and the start of a good climb. The last bit of the road will be rolling before intersecting Granite Spring section going left.
The route turns to singletrack and rolls up and down through a meadow before the intersection with Deer Park
trail. Stay to the right here and enjoy a descent through pines and scrub brush.
Somewhere around the 9 mile mark, you reach the boundary of Cuyamaca State Park and Cleveland National Forest. You'll cross through a cattle gate and then be faced with a rude (steep) climb. Deer Park
Trail changes to Indian Spring Trail here. Pedaling up the steep grade will bring you to an intersection with Pine Mountain
Stay right at the junction for a descent to Noble Canyon
trail. The respite from climbing is over once you bear left onto Noble Canyon
and start climbing again to the Penny Pines trailhead on Sunrise Highway. This is a good place to stop, rest and refuel before continuing with the route.
From the trailhead, ride the highway to the northwest for about 2 miles. Turn left into the Pioneer Mail Picnic Area and access the Pine Mountain
If you haven't had your fill of climbing at this point, there's more ahead. Be prepared for technical uphill travel on singletrack. At least you'll be rewarded with some great views of the surrounding mountains.
As the ride tops out, you'll finish the loop portion of this lollipop ride and then retrace the route back on Indian Creek
, Deer Park
, and East Mesa Road.