Orange County

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    Black Star Canyon - Silverado Canyon Bike Trail

    You can look forward to 8 miles of climbing to the top of Black Star, but coming back down is the fun part.  The scenery is great as this ride is deep in the Santa Ana Mountains.  There is a lot of history in this canyon, which adds to the allure of this ride.  Some claim that this area is haunted. However, we have yet to encounter anything out of the ordinary.  Just a great ride!

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    Crystal Cove I- Newport Coast

    Those of us that live in Southern Cal are fortunate to have a wide variety of options to choose from when it comes to determining where to ride. On those blazing, hot days though, nothing beats a trip to the coast where the temperatures tend to be a bit lower. Crystal Cove State Park, located in the Newport Coast area, is one of those places. Crystal Cove is home to several classic rides such as Moro Canyon, Moro Ridge, Fence-line, Rattlesnake, and Emerald Canyon, just to name a few. This park can be accessed directly from PCH but we prefer to begin this loop from Ridge Park. Parking is free.

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    Crystal Cove II- Newport Coast

    This is another great loop within the Crystal Cove State Park system. It’s a cruise down into the Deer Canyon picnic tables, with some steep climbing throughout the ride. One of the highlights is tearing down Mach One into Moro Canyon, and some technical descents on Rattlesnake.

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    Fullerton Loop - Fullerton

    Although it’s an urban trail, the Fullerton Loop is one of our favorite places to ride. It provides enough climbing and downhill activity, and is a great after work ride. The whole loop is about 11 miles and takes you through various parks in the city, as well as a jaunt along a golf course. It’s a trail that is popular amongst joggers, hikers, bikers and equestrians, so be mindful when riding this loop.

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    Holy Jim Trail- Trabuco Canyon

    Getting to the Holy Jim Trailhead is an adventure itself, as you have 5 miles of dirt road to get through before arriving to the Holy Jim parking section. The first 3 miles are generally smooth, but the last 2 is full of rocks, ruts, and bumps. A truck, Jeep or 4×4 vehicle is handy here. However, we arrived there in my Civic so it can be done! (just really slow). The first 1.4 miles of this ride is relatively shady. There are several creek crossings to get through, but by the time you reach the 1.4 mile trail marker, you will begin climbing to the Main Divide rd. This is all sun exposure. Once you arrive to Main Divide, you have approximately 7 miles of more tough climbing to go through. The Trabuco tral is on your right at the 12.5 mile section, and there is a metal fence to clue you in once you get there. The descent is full of rock gardens but is not terribly technical. The last section smooths out and eventually ends at Trabuco road. Enjoy this last section as you make your way back to your car.

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    Laguna Canyon Wilderness I- Laguna Canyon

    Laguna Wilderness Park is adjacent to Crystal Cove and is another fantastic destination when you want to escape the inland heat. This loop starts with a steep climb for the first 1/2 mile and then becomes more manageable as you continue to make your way up to Bommer. It also incorporates some of the best single-tracks within the area as you traverse into Crystal Cove. The most technical section is when you are entering the Lizard trail, and it is a treat to ride. There is more climbing afterwards but you end the ride by descending back down Willow to your car. Use caution as you are making your way down as the trail is popular with hikers and other bikers making their way up.

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    Laguna Canyon Wilderness II - Laguna Canyon

    Just like Laguna Wilderness I, this ride is quick and to the point. This loop takes us to the newly developed Stagecoach trail, which has only been around for a couple of years. It’s a nice flowing trail that eventually climbs through a series of switchbacks. There is plenty of climbing to be had, but there are plenty of sections that will have you descending and picking up speed. It also ends with a 1.5 mile descent down Willow back to your car. Use caution on the way down and be aware of hikers and ascending bikers.

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    Limestone Canyon - The Sinks

    Limestone Canyon was previously only available to the public through docent tours. These days, however, the park is open to the public every 1st Saturday of the month from 9-2. It is gaining popularity because more and more people are becoming aware of this hidden gem. Two areas of interest in this section of land are The Sinks and Dripping Springs. Both are easily accessible and some of the highlights of these rides. Registration is required and there are tents on site manned by helpful workers and volunteers. This trail starts with a nice warm up and then begins a 3 mile ascent on East Loma Ridge. The descent to Limestone Canyon is fun, fast, and it culminates at the Sinks. From there we climb to Limestone Ridge and ride the rolling singletrack. A descent back to Limestone Canyon completes this ride. Maps are available so make sure you pick one up. It will help familiarize you with the park so you can explore the different areas of the Canyon.

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    Lower San Juan - San Juan Capistrano

    The San Juan Trail is one of the best rides around, but it is certainly no walk in the park. The entire trail network is about 20 miles and it is commonly split into two separate rides (Upper and Lower). It is arguably one of the best trails in So Cal. Although many cyclists enjoy riding the entire singletrack, we prefer to ride each loop separately. It is more manageable that way! Lower San Juan consists of 6.35 miles of climbing through technical singletrack before reaching the top of Cocktail rock. This is the common rest area and chances are you will be united with other riders there. The Upper San Juan loop also takes you to Cocktail Rock. As you make your way up, you will need to clear a series of switchbacks, and a good majority seem to come in early in the ride. This is an out-and-back ride, so once you are ready to descend, retrace the exact way you came up. The downhill ride is exceptional and the main reason we ride this loop. Use caution on the trail as you will encounter other riders and hikers traversing the trail.

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    Peters Canyon I - Orange

    The first time a buddy took me mountain biking, it was at Peter’s Canyon.  It is truly one of the best places to get a taste of the sport because it has a little bit of everything.  There are nice, scenic trails to spin through.  It has both small and steep climbs, but nothing extensive.  There are a few fast descents, rolling ridges, and the entire loop is approximately 6 miles.  To this day, whenever I introduce someone new to the sport, Peters Canyon is the choice trail.  However, riders of all levels will enjoy this trail because you can blast your way through it, climb “big red” without bonking out, or add nearby Santiago Oaks if you want to extend your ride.  One disclosure about Peter’s Canyon is that it is extremely popular among hikers, runners, and bikers so be careful as you traverse your way around this loop.