Best San Diego Mountain Biking

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San Clement Canyon (easy)

Canyon Trail doesn’t have too many hills on the nine-mile ride but for the way back it will be pretty flowy and it does have switchbacks. There will be a turn around point right by the freeway eventually. AND San Clemente Canyon is partially located behind Karl Strauss Brewing Company. Grab a beer after a ride. Bullard’s Bar Loop Right near the water and great swimming spots. The 22-mile ride has trails for all skill levels. The northeast end is the most technical part (more hills, narrower and technical) while the southeast portion for less experienced peeps.

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Devil’s Punchbowl (moderate)


Ride down three miles of single-track and switchbacks as you speed down the mountain to the bottom. The trail is in good shape but watch out for hikers. After 3 miles, you will get to Devil’s Punchbowl, which is also one of the best cliff jumping spots in Southern California. However, fire road trails split off from here offering rides along the valley or up into the mountains. We recommend embarking on a longer ride first then jumping in the refreshing water. Watch out for snakes, we’ve run into two rattlers during a ride in June. The coordinates below are to the Punchbowl, but plug into our directions and it will direct you to the closest parking.

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Miner’s Ridge Loop (technical)

Located within Black Mountain Park this is primarily a hiking trail, this can be accessed on bike as well where the trails are not overgrown but may be rutted out. There are some impediments such as stairs along this ride and there is a thousand foot climb in elevation but it offers a great view of the ocean. The best way to do the loop is counter-clockwise. While the designated main loop is a sprint pace of 2.3 miles, it can be extended to 10 or even 15 miles. For the 15-mile loop start at Hilltop Community park and follow the trail that starts by the power line tower where the route offers a fun downhill on Carmel Mountain Road and more trails are being built.

Penasquito’s Canyon (moderate)


An interconnecting connection of routes allows for riders to come back several times and still experience a different ride each time. Head east then turn north up after about a half mile for the more moderate and technical rides. Following along Penasquito’s will provide an easy trail which is primarily single track. 13 mile ride. There are trails that can be taken either in the West or East parking lot off Black Mountain Road.

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Cowles Mountain (moderate)


Park at Big Rock Park, then ride alongside the road to this point to embark on your climb. This is a very hard route with its deep guttered switchbacks, substantial rock gardens, and railroad ties. It does have some fire roads as well, but try to take advantage of the sweet single track as much as possible. The climbs are extensive and there may be hikers, but the view from the top and the epic ride down make it worth it.

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Daley Ranch (easy)


Although it has a few technical ascents and descents this is mostly just a smooth ride near the lake. Can ride loops reaching over 12 miles. The routes offer rolling hills where without rocks where you can really push your speed and yourself. It has little something for everyone but no jumps though. Stay off the fire roads for a better ride. The area is dog friendly if he can keep up with your bike. Daley Ranch also features a park and more than 40 routes of San Diego rock climbing.

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Noble Canyon (extreme)


This will put you through 3 distinctive terrains (alpine, chaparral and desert) on the 22-mile ride. It is technical with tight switchbacks and a narrow singletrack. This trail will put you through rocky and sandy terrain. A National Forest Adventure Pass is required at the Upper Trailhead and the Lower Trailhead as well. There are tons of variations for loops you can do with this trail.

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Knott’s Trail (easy)

Leah Drost

Nearly 15 miles, the trail is fairly flowy considering it’s really wide based primarily on fire roads. There are some jumps and this is a great place to ride during the summer as its right near the ocean. Probably the easiest network of real MTB trails in the southern part of SoCal.

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