La Costa Preserve - South Side Access
ElevationAscent: 1,216' 371 m
Descent: -1,216' -370 m
High: 1,026' 313 m
Low: 391' 119 m
GradeAvg Grade: 5% (3°)
Max Grade: 18% (10°)
Current trail conditions
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“Ride through La Costa Preserve from the south.”— Kurt Davey
There is a bike repair station at the top.
The heavy rains of 2016/17 damaged parts of the trail and made other sections much tougher by exposing more rocks and carving ruts.
Avoid riding around obstacles more difficult sections and widening the trails.
If you do not like sharp rocks, ruts, and rattlesnakes, these trails are not for you. Don't ride around the technical sections. It only makes the trail wider.
Park at the Diestro Connector trailhead at the top of Avenida Diestro. Stay to the left and follow this easy warm-up trail around the backside of the Circulo Sequoia neighborhood until it drops down into a clearing. Then follow the split rail fence up 0.3 miles of steady climb to the Powerline Access Road.
Turn right on Powerline Access Road for only a couple hundred feet to the trailhead on the left. Stay to the right and head south on Whiptail Loop Trail. After about 0.25 miles, the trail splits. Stay to the left and begin climbing. (The trail to the right is Copper Canyon which descends down to Copper Creek and leads back toward the San Marcos side of the hill. Riders from SM could access the west side hill from here instead of riding up Denning Road).
Whiptail used to be the easiest way up on singletrack from the Carlsbad side of the hill. But it got really rutted and lots more rocks were exposed from the heavy 2016-2017 rains, making the middle section of this trail more technical.
Stay on Whiptail and climb about 1.5 miles to the top. This is a good spot to take a break and enjoy the views.
Start your first descent heading north on Denning Road to the Switchbacks trailhead. Pass the Connector trail to Camino Junipero and continue all the way to the bottom of Switchbacks - Power Line Access Rd Connector, about two miles of total descent.
From Switchbacks - Power Line Access Rd Connector, go south on the Powerline Access Road a hundred steep feet and enter Horned Lizard on the left. Climb Horned Lizard all the way back to the top. Then descend on Whiptail Loop Trail.
Take the Diestro Connector back to the trailhead.