Noble Canyon is actually three rides in one; a descent from alpine meadows, through oak forests, to the dry desert.
Starting from the Penny Pines trailhead on Sunrise Highway, 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.
A lot of great loops can be made out of the trail, or it can be done "California Style" by getting a ride to the top and just enjoying the amazing downhill.