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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi there,
I'm not an expert on our local trails and campgrounds and I know there is a lot of that expertise in this forum. My 11 yr old son is in boy scouts, and I'm trying to plan an outing for some time in the next 6 months where his troop can camp and mountain bike. A lot of the kids have cheap walmart bikes, and some of them have very little biking experience. Our first biking outing with his troop was down Jasper Trail in Anza Borrego and it was a complete disaster. There was deep sand on most of the 10 mile trail and it ended up taking us 5 hours to get the boys through.
This troop is based in Escondido, so I've been trying to come up with campgrounds within 1-2 hours that offer trails for boys of all levels. My only thought so far is to camp at El Prado group camp at Mount Laguna, and take them all on the big meadow loop. Then we could take the more advanced boys on some of the surrounding trails that offer more variety, terrain and challenges.
Does anyone have a better suggestion? Bonus points for a free campground and areas that won't require an adventure pass. Double bonus points for campgrounds that allow open fires. Many of these families are financially strapped.

Thanks in advance for any suggestions.
 

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Big Laguna, there are two main sections for camping up there and the Big laguna trail is single track and fun, but has very little elevation gain or drop and is not technical at all, seems like it would be a perfect place because you can catch the trails right from the campground. They even have group sites for things like boy scout troops.

Laguna Mountain Area - Laguna Campground
 

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Hey, thanks for the shout-out, Chuck, and the contact, Jason!

I have indeed taken Cub- and Boy-Scouts mountainbiking and on combo bike/camp outings. I think the number one, most primo place to do it in San Diego is that listed above: a campsite in the El Prado Loop at Laguna Camp. This offers excellent trails which can be ridden "at" a variety of levels and a variety of loops, most of which are close enough to the campsite that a walk-out due to "Bike Grenade" isn't a big deal.

Of course, there's also on-trail water over at the Noble Cyn trailhead, which is in easy striking distance, and the loop around Big Laguna Lake (ha ha!) is an excellent ride. With my Cubs and Webelos, I stuck to that loop, counter-clockwise to soak up the long, smooth, "Wahoo Descent" from the high point on the north end of the lake meadow. Every boy made it, with only one OTB, and major, major stoke. With Boy Scouts, I like to extend the circle out to incorporate more around the meadow, and then to cut over to the Noble Cyn Trailhead and back. This enables good-sized rides that can be managed by nearly all the fellas I assess to be ready for it, and for break-off groups to cut the loop short but still hook up with us later.

Of course, having coin-op showers is just fantastic after a sweaty, dirty ride --which they all should be! You've already got this one figured, Jason, so jump on permits early--this place fills fast. I suggest Whitethorn if your numbers are less than 7 tents and because it's got great steel tables for cooking (easy to sanitize!) and big wooden tables for eating. If you've got more guys, then Buckwheat is flat, long and excellent for large groups, but you've got to gamble whether some douche with an RV (generator) parks in the lot right next to you. Yerba Santa has flush toilets (not vault) because it's Handicapper...but bring sanitizing wipes and such if you get that site, which has an excellent fire ring, just massive.

Okay, now ditch the camping and take the dudes out with as many parents as you can (this helps folks understand why the Walmart bike is a bummer): Lake Hodges from the east side and over to Hernandez Hideaway or the dam and back, Daley Ranch if you're careful with routes and of course: Los Penasquitos Canyon. You just can't go wrong for an intro ride that starts on the east end, with a variety of loops and routes you can use to incorporate as many stream crossings as possible. If nobody falls in the water trying to cross at Carson's without the bridge, you aren't having enough fun.
 

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Jasper Trail...OMG what were you thinking? :) One of the nastiest rides I've done is Jasper to Grapevine and back on a really windy day. On the way back up the hill the sand was so deep and the wind so strong that the wind gusts would literally stop me in my tracks. I thought we were going to run out of daylight before we got back to the truck.

I'd totally recommend Big Laguna too. My 11 yo rides the meadow and up to redtail roost and down Los gatos and loves it.
 

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+1 on the suggestion for BLT and major props to EBasil for an excellent write up. The only thing I'd add is that you also have the convenience of a store (Laguna Mountain Lodge) very close by, if you find yourself needing supplies.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Jasper trail was not my choice. I'd never heard of it, and we're new to the troop so I just went with the flow. Now I'm trying to make sure I plan the biking outings and scout out other activities before hand.
 

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I've heard there are trails around Camp Mataguay. Does anyone know if there are good trails there?
MSR's mtb trail system isn't built out yet. They're allowed to build trails, and have been, but haven't had much support/participation from volunteers interested in an MTB-worthy network.
 

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+1 on EBasil's Mt. Laguna suggestion.
There's also Burn Rancheria which has showers as well. And the Perfect Cycling Trail in the back yard. (Which would be Wrong, I know,...).
Another feature for Mt. Laguna is the existence of a first-class eatery and watering hole up there. The Pine House has excellent local microbrews on tap, for those Scout dads who could use a quick getaway from the troop.

The owner, Nica, is a 5-star chef, and their menu is really great, from burgers to the specialty of the weekend, whatever it is. Their cobbler dessert is killer too.

Pine House Cafe Home
 

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I was going to suggest that the scout troop try to get a tour at the Laguna Mountain Observatory if they end up staying up there, but I couldn't find any info on public tours.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
So, I did get a reservation for the first weekend in August at El Prado Group Camp. I will be taking the less experienced boys on a ride around the meadow. The shortest easiest route appears to be about 8 miles? Any suggestions on a slightly more advanced route for the older and more experienced boys would be great. I've only been out there once before but I plan to do as much riding out there as I can manage this spring/summer to get familiar with the trails.
Also, does anyone know of any resources I could tap into to get some of the kids on real mountain bikes. On the last ride, there was only my son on his Marin bayview trail and another boy on an old school Raleigh. Everyone else was on a box store bike. I know there are some organizations that do bike rodeos and such but I don't know if any of them had a stable of bikes they would be willing to lend out for a weekend.
 

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For route additions I can think of two:

1. Up Chico Ravine and down Los Gatos Ravine. You can do this loop from the southern end of the meadow loop; there is a little bit of riding on old broken pavement between CR & LGR. The climbing on CR is not too bad and the ride down LGR is a blast. LGR has several stunts which are all optional. Repeat as necessary.

2. From the northern end of the meadow loop, continue N/NE towards the Penny Pines trailhead, then take the Upper Noble Canyon trail W & S and climb up the paved road back to the top of the meadow. Some initial climbing from Penny Pines up Noble, then a nice cruise downhill before a short but tough paved road climb.

Here is a Garmin track that has both options. 15 miles total.
BLT NC-CR-LG 20110828 by random_walk at Garmin Connect - Details
 

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So, I did get a reservation for the first weekend in August at El Prado Group Camp.
EXCELLENT. You're gonna have a great time!! Now, the trick is getting other adult leaders on bikes to max-up your ratios on trail, ha ha!!

For the "advanced route", I'd do exactly what Random Walk describes with Chico to Los Gatos, off of the southern end of the "regular BLT loop" you'll do as the "moderate ride". This way, you all leave together and split off from one another at the "bottom of the lake".

Car-camping and the deep fire pits mean you can let the fellas GRILL MEAT... ha ha... those bacon-wrapped sirloins will be back in Costco by August and are very affordable per serving. Steaks, MTB and campfire...gonna create a tradition for your Troop!
 
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