Adventure Projects is hiring a web engineer to join us in Boulder, CO
MTB Project Logo

San Juan Lollipop

 4.6 (37)

21.8 Miles 35.1 Kilometers



3,344' 1,019 m


-3,344' -1,019 m



Avg Grade (3°)


Max Grade (13°)

3,393' 1,034 m


831' 253 m


Shared By Zander Göpfert


All Clear 47 days ago
Wide open. No damage from the fires. The wilderness and trails are beautiful. History

Getting forecast...

This is a long, hard climb with 11 miles of singletrack back to your car.

Zander Göpfert

Dogs Leashed

Features -none-

Requires a $5 Adventure Pass. Lots of sandy trail sections, give it a few days after it rains.


This is close to 3,400 feet of ascent to a campground, only to turn around for 11 miles of singletrack heaven. This ride is also a popular shuttle route, but the pay off is much better with a nice steady climb.

A real test of will and some technical ascents with adequate places to break and take in ocean views. Watch out for beginner riders and kids in Nike Frees with no helmets and huge huffy bike pumps bungeed to their backs.

Need to Know

  • If you're looking for a shorter look it's possible to park at a pull-off near the top and do a 7.3 mile lollipop ride from there.
  • At the end of a variation of this trail is a Candy Store. Enough said. If you are looking for lunch at the top, you can make a right down Long Canyon Rd, then take a left on Hwy 74 and into El Cariso and get a sandwich and a burger, but this adds five miles of road to your trip.
  • There are lots of sandy turns, so be wary. While descending, be aware that this is a popular ascent trail for bikers and hikers alike. There are also lots of local foot races including the Old Goat Trail 50 miler. Be aware, there is a lot of poison oak on this trail as well.


Take Hwy 74 east towards Lake Elsinore to the Hot Spring Canyon Rd., and make a left towards Lazy W Ranch (you'll see a fire station). Take this back approximately two miles until you reach a large parking lot under tree cover. This is the start or end of the trail.

The trail starts out with pretty heavy climbing through 180° switchbacks that are fairly technical. Keep an eye on the ruts, especially after a heavy rain, because they will catch even the biggest 29er out there. This climb does not let up for a good two miles. The ride levels out for a bit after this as you ride around some smaller peaks before another ascent to what locals call Cocktail Rock.

This is where Old San Juan Trail and New San Juan Trail split, and a turn around point for a lot of the riders.

If you plan to ascend Old San Juan Trail, you'll find yourself in some pretty enduro heaven just before a final ascent to the trailhead outside of Blue Jay Campground. This is where the shuttles drop off. If you wanted to continue north, you could connect with main divide road and hit some of the longer truck trails down or the super overgrown Los Pinos Trail. You can even get to the Santiago Peak pretty easily, which has some pretty decent panoramic views and the occasional snow fall.

Now you are ready to descend. Head down the trail through some pretty sharp rock descents and quick climbs. There will be a few off-shoots to your right, keep left on these as they just drop into the Blue Jay Campground. Beware of a high left turn option as it ends in a HUGE root booby trap and you'll end up pin-balling down the embankment. Pass the quick descent to your left and keep to the trail markers, once you get to a second split you'll stay straight as right is Old San Juan Trail.

Take this for approximately one mile until you reach another split where you can break left and add some extra miles to your trip, with some really fun singletrack and dirt bumpers, or stay straight and keep on track to meet up with Cocktail Rock again. Depending on how much more gas you have in your tank, choose wisely because this also adds some additional climbing.

After some technical, sandy-chute style tracks, you make another technical ascent back to the Cocktail Rock and then begin the rest of your downhill.

This includes everything you climbed, but in the much more enjoyable direction. Expect lots of grippy turns and quick chutes, some technical rocky sections and some very technical switchbacks that are easier on smaller bikes.

This ride is truly a gem of Orange County, especially for the length. Enjoy but please respect the locals.


You & This Featured Ride

Rate Quality

   Clear Rating

Rate Difficulty

Share This Ride

Your Check-Ins


Nov 10, 2018
David Hernandez
I descended from the Newer San Juan Loop trail all the way to the bottom of the San Juan Loop. Magnificent views, rough terrain, and heck of a G-time. 11mi
Oct 29, 2018
Victor Valencia
This trail is by far the best/longest trail , 2 flats , ate ate shit hard for the first time but it was all worth the experience 12.8mi
May 24, 2018
Kurt Davey
Apr 11, 2018
Ina Lee
Mar 20, 2018
e swann
Mar 4, 2018
Gerardo Alonso
Feb 10, 2018
Toncz Zappo
Downhill with Ron and Craig ! 10.6mi
Jan 21, 2018
Kyle Swenson
Awsome trail lots of fun great conditions 6mi

Trail Ratings

  4.6 from 37 votes


  4.6 from 37 votes
5 Star
4 Star
3 Star
2 Star
1 Star


in California


742 Views Last Month
25,078 Since Oct 18, 2016
Intermediate/Difficult Intermediate/Difficult

Jim Dover
Idyllwild, CA
Jim Dover   Idyllwild, CA
This is my favorite trail and I used to ride it twice a week when I was training seriously. Difficult and technical in sections but the main thing about it is that the climb is unrelenting--it just keeps going and going. At least two of the switchbacks were ride-able only on my very best days. The upper loop has short sections that used to be unrideable--or at least VERY challenging. May 3, 2015
If you do decide to climb this, do it early and be wary of those barreling down! This trail is heavily traveled, especially on the weekends, and riders coming down often cannot see or hear you until it's too late. One of the best rides in Southern California. Dec 30, 2015
Jake Norman
Redondo Beach, CA
Jake Norman   Redondo Beach, CA
Don't make the mistake I made and get caught in the dark! Start early or you will be walking the last few miles out. Also, your legs and arms will get scratched up from all the plants if they are not covered. And please use a cowbell! Jan 2, 2017

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