Los Peñasquitos Canyon Loop
This route is designed for solo adaptive riders to ride confidently in an unfamiliar area. It is comprised mostly of fire road and double track and you will miss a lot of what this area has to offer, BUT you will be able to ride alone safely, regardless of ability level. I will add more advanced loops for this area in future blogs. Happy riding!
Note: If you have a Garmin device, you can export the GPX file from Trailforks and import for a turn by turn map of the route.
There are several trailheads and staging areas that work fine, but the one that offers the best loop option and has paved, flat handyman spots, bathrooms with running water and drinking fountains is Canyonside Community Park baseball fields at the very east end on the canyon. Do NOT park where everyone else parks or you will be far away from the bathroom. Continue past the popular parking area, around the corner and park near the bathroom. See map below.
For now, this is going to be a lollipop loop because the east creek crossings, which could make it an actual loop, are not 100% aMTB friendly. You are probably just fine on these crossings, but sticking to the purpose of this blog, until the city can do some work (again, they have been super helpful), i do not feel confident sending a solo rider over either of them for the first time, without knowing their ability level.
Also, i am going to map two routes: one short and one long. If you do not have a power assist, you may consider sticking to the shorter route because there are some steep long climbs involved in the longer route.
Sometimes people block the trailhead the way they park, but there is alternate entry up the road. See map above.
There is a drop off of a concrete slab just after the start. Be ready.
Everything is relatively flat until you get to the Powerlines climb
Powerlines is long and gradual. Just pace yourself.
At the top of Powerlines is where you make your choice to take the short or long route. If you turn left, read on. if you turn right, see Long Route below.
Once yo turn left, its nice and easy along the housing development.
You'll eventually end up on the road. I know. This sucks, but its part of MTB life in the ninth largest city in the US.
Turn left on Carmel Mountain Road and look for the trailhead after the park
This is the famous Cobbles. Enjoy it, but beware of uphill traffic. Be ready for some serious cobbles too, especially on the 2nd half after the pond.
This is considered single track. It will be tight in a few places, but you should be fine.
There is a big table top on the second section. Avoid this, unless you are an advanced rider or you have someone with you. There is a ride around.
There is a quick surprise steep rocky undulation. Be ready with a small gear towards the bottom after you see a wood fence on the left
At the bottom, this is where the waterfall is. Sadly, you cannot get to it. Working with the city on this.
Once to the bottom its smooth sailing east, all the way back
See everything for Short Route above until the top of Powerlines. Turn right at the top.
Follow the fire road all the way around to Cardiac Hill. Enjoy the downhill, but beware. There is a creek crossing at the bottom that heads into a very steep climb. Be ready with a small gear before you get to the bottom. I've gotten stuck before.
After the creek, its a steep long climb. Get your crank on!
You're basically just following the fireroad around the perimeter, but there are undulations so be ready with your shifter. There are tons of cool off-shoot trails that you will see, but whether you can do them or not is the question. If you are alone, stick to the fire road. I have been helicoptered out before. Watch video
The climb back up to the Mesa involves a concrete ramp. This sucks, but at least you will get a good workout.
At the top, you will have some road time. Again, this is not ideal, but just the way it is here. You can ride in the street or on the dirt horse path.
Look for the trailhead on the left once you pass the park. This is Cobbles. Refer to details above in Short Route.