San Diego Mountain Bike Trails


Mission Trails Regional Park

Location: San Diego. One Father Junipero Serra Trail.

Length: 12 miles.

Difficulty level: Beginner to intermediate.

Notable: Bikers of differing levels can find diverse trails to suit their abilities at this large urban park.

Florida Canyon

Location: San Diego. Parking available near tennis courts at Texas and Upas streets in the northeast end of Balboa Park, at 2221 Morley Field Drive. Trailhead located by the tennis courts.

Length: 3-mile loop.

Difficulty level: Beginner to intermediate.

Notable: Dubbed the “Urban Assault Ride” by bikers, this trail has easy access for city dwellers and the loop allows bikers to extend their ride by making laps through the canyon.

San Clemente Canyon

Location: Between Clairemont and University City. Exit Clairemont Mesa Boulevard/Regents Road from Highway 52, travel north to trailhead situated in Marian Bear Memorial Park.

Length: 4 miles.

Difficulty level: Beginner.
Notable: Great for beginners or those without proper mountain bikes looking to test the trails on two wheels.

Tecolote Canyon Natural Park

Location: San Diego. Exit Sea World Drive from I-5 to Tecolote Road. Parking available near the trailhead at the Nature Center, 5180 Tecolote Rd.

Length: 7 miles

Difficulty level: Beginner to intermediate.

Notable: Some steep and rocky portions of the trail add to the challenge.


Elfin Forest Recreational Reserve

Location: Near Escondido. Take La Costa Avenue exit off I-5, left on Rancho Santa Fe Road, right on San Elijo Road, right on Elfin Forest Road, left on Harmony Grove Road. Parking on right, at 8833 Harmony Grove Road.

Length: 13 miles.

Difficulty level: Intermediate to advanced.

Notable: The 1.5-mile winding and rocky uphill at the start of the ride is not for the faint-hearted. Once on top, great views of a reservoir and dam. More terrain opened this month.

Los Peñasquitos Canyon Reserve

Location: Carmel Valley. South side of Sorrento Valley Boulevard, one mile east of Vista Sorrento Parkway.

Length: 12 miles.

Difficulty level: Beginner to intermediate.

Notable: Mostly a fire road, this trail leads through the canyon to a cascading waterfall great for dipping feet into to cool off midride.

Lake Hodges

Location: Escondido. Exit Via Rancho Parkway off I-15. Travel east and turn right on Sunset Drive to trailhead.

Length: 15 miles.

Difficulty level: Beginner to intermediate.

Notable: The trail follows the eastern side of the lake. This relatively flat terrain is easy to navigate, making it great for night rides with helmet lights for visibility.

Nate Harrison Grade

Location: Pauma Valley. On the southwest side of Palomar Mountain. Take 78-E from I-15. Go left on Valley Center Road and left on Cole Grade Road to park. Trailhead located nearby, off the 76.

Length: 22 miles.

Difficulty Level: Intermediate to advanced.

Notable: With 4,700 feet of elevation gain, this trail works both your lungs and your legs and summits in Palomar Mountain State Park. A favorite of diehards looking for a challenging climb.


Anderson Truck Trail

Location: Near Alpine. Exit Harbison Canyon from I-8, straight to Alpine Boulevard. East on Alpine Boulevard for 1 mile, left onto Peutz Valley Road; park under highway overpass.

Length: 8-10 miles.

Difficulty level: Advanced

Notable: Known for its long and technical downhill and spectacular views of El Capitan Reservoir

Sycamore Canyon Open Space Preserve

Location: Between Poway and Santee. Exit Poway Road from I-15, drive east, turn right on Garden Road, right on Sycamore Canyon Road to trailhead parking lot.

Length: 7-plus miles.

Difficulty level: Intermediate to advanced.

Notable: Sycamore Canyon connects to Daley Ranch, allowing bikers to ride off-road from Poway to Santee. Trail can be ridden at varying speeds, offering a challenge for more advanced bikers.

Noble Canyon

Location: Descanso. Exit Pine Valley from I-8, turn left. At Old Highway 80 turn left, then right on Pine Creek Road to Noble Canyon Trailhead Parking.

Length: 18 miles

Difficulty level: Advanced.

Notable: One of the best in the county, with challenging single track winding through big, open green meadows and diverse terrain. Option to connect with Big Laguna Trail, another great ride.


Sweetwater Reservoir

Location: Bonita. Exit Bonita Road from the 805 South. Trailhead located at 3218 Summit Meadow Road in Sweetwater Regional Park.

Length: 8 miles.

Difficulty level: Beginner to intermediate

Notable: Minutes from Tijuana and downtown San Diego, this trail offers a wilderness retreat with wide, open meadows, a reservoir view and nearby campsites.


San Juan Trail

Location: San Juan Capistrano. Exit I-5 at Ortega Highway, drive east for 12.5 miles, left onto dirt road just before ranger station.

Length: 22 miles.

Difficulty level: Advanced/Expert

Notable: Worth the trip for experienced riders. This spot is one of the best advanced trails around, with an 8-mile climb and 8-mile descent.

San Diego Mountain Biking Association

Nonprofit, volunteer organization representing the interests of off-road bicyclists and other non-motorized trail users in San Diego County. San Diego Mountain Bike Guide contains maps, text and detailed ride descriptions of rides throughout the San Diego region. San Diego Mountain Biking Assoc.
and San Diego County Mountain Peaks & Summits