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.
This is definitely a trail you want to ride when you develop technical skills and leg endurance. It is by far one of my favorites because of the challenge it provides, but is is also one of the most beautiful rides out there. It is all singletrack, lots of shade, and plenty of scenery to enjoy. The first section of the loop is not terribly technical, but there are some rock gardens to traverse through, as well as a few short hops and jumps. After about 4 miles in, the trail begins to ascend until you reach Cocktail Rock. From there you loop back through the Old San Juan trail. It starts with a steep but short climb and before you know it, you are navigating your way through big ruts in the ground, as well as roots and other obstacles. Finally, you get to climb 2 miles back to the trailhead, which can be a tiring and grueling experience back to the car! Don’t let that keep you from enjoying this trail though as it is one of the best singletracks in So Cal.