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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Happy Holidays SoCal -

I'm headed down to Carlsbad to spend a few days with my brother and looking for a few recommendations. I know I can search and use Trailforks but was hoping for a little first hand knowledge. Happy to return the favor if you make the trip to Santa Cruz.

My family will be with me so in a perfect world there would be some family friendly rides (mellow climbs, fire roads, double track, even MUTs if there is a good destination at the end).

Then maybe some recommendations for me to sneak out to on my own? I ride a 5.5" travel bike, spend most of my ride time at Wilder and on Campus in Santa Cruz. Maybe call me an intermediate rider not into big air love some nice flow (doesn't mean it can't be chunky though). A ride that is well marked that I can knock out in under 2 hours would be great. If I could ride to it from Bressi Ranch that would be even better!

Thanks in advance,
AG
 

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Look up Lake Calavera. I think all you want can be found there.

I've only ridden there once. The trails around the lake were more mellow. The more technical stuff you'll have to search out and/or ask for more intel. The trails I rode around the water tower were quite fun.
 

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I have said this multiple times and I will say it again, stay away from Calaveras if you are from out of town. It will only be an exercise in frustration since there are so many overlapping trails. If you can get a guide Calaveras is a lot of fun.

For family friendly trails hit up the north side of Lake Hodges which is about 20 minutes away. There is also a great out and back spur up Bernardo Mtn that is great for intermediate and above riders. If you want something more challenging you can hit up La Costa or to really work yourself, Elfin Forest Preserve. Elfin is the best place to get your chunk on. Just be prepared for the climbing especially at Elfin.
 

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Calavera is tricky. Tore my ac joint on a blind double thinking it was a drop. Its the one with the tree to the right of it. Seems like many ppl know the spot I'm referring to. Its been a month and still not fully healed. Theres no clear path and nothing is really marked so its best to find a guide. Although the locals know it so well they go pretty fast.

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The Bernardo mtn climb to me seems more like an advanced climb. I have to hike a few sections, especially the water tower. Its a great short bonus ride.

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I dunno...It's hard to get lost at calavera. I always just use the water tower as a landmark. If you've never ridden there, just explore trails... Most of the trails are pretty tame. But there are advanced sections too with jumps and huge drops.
 

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Hodges is pretty much bunny trails. Bernardo mtn is very fun but moderately technical and the climb is tough if you're not the climber type. I love the views at the top.

Hodges is great because anyone can ride it. I work down the street and do lunch rides on my cyclocross bike at hodges. It seems perfect for CX type riding.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Thanks all -

I was checking out Calaveras so I appreciate the local feedback - we will try out Hodges as a family and then check out some of the spurs that SP and others mentioned.

Bernardo mountain sounds interesting too...hard to say how much of a climber I am. A weekday ride is usually 10-12 miles and 1k-1.3k of climbing with weekend rides in the 20 and 2k range...but it is Santa Cruz where things are pretty mellow. I have been caught out when I travel especially when the elevation gain is the same but the distances are much shorter.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Thanks So-Cal

Thought I would drop back in to say thanks. Got a couple of decent rides and I'll leave this note here for the next person who asks...

North Shore lake Hodges trail: start at Hernandez cove - good, safe parking. Trail is flowy and family friendly with a lot of cool stops to watch the abundant bird life for the kids. Can be a bit challenging to hold speed/flow for sheer traffic reasons.
Mount Bernardo: perfect little offshoot if you need a little extra at the back end of the North Shore trail. I rode this while my family had a snack break. Nice view of the lake from the top and a little ripper of a downhill.
With kids and stops, the whole thing was under 2.5 hours - I didn't get mileage and footies, but I'd guess 11-14 miles and maybe 1000' but there are no sustained climbs unless you go up mount Bernardo.

Then I needed another day where I could challenge myself a bit so headed out to Elfin Forrest in yesterday's rain. I saw this posted as a good after work ride. This was tough for me - tougher than I would typically ride after work. Started at the trailhead for Elfin Forrest which has good parking, port-a-Johns and water...plus bells for you to attach to your bike.
The initial climb on "the way up" trail has a lot of switchbacks that are immediately followed by rock steps that were pretty slippery yesterday - I walked probably a quarter of this trail on the way up.
Then rode Equine Incline CW: fun and flowy down with many bonus feature rocks to air - this uphill was way more doable, but I still had to walk a few short sections. With a little familiarity, I think I would be able to no dab this trail - I think "the way up" would take some considerable increase in my skill and fitness level to ride up without a dab or a stop.
I continued up to something called hernia hill - plenty of traction here even in the rain, but it is a gut buster of a short climb that gets steeper the further you go.
Dropped down the fire road to Lake Hodges overlook trail - very tight, rocky switchbacks at the beginning with a few strategically sprinkled throughout the lollipop shaped loop - just to keep you honest. All of it was rideable downhill but I again found myself walking a few of the tighter corners on the uphill.
Then back over the top of the hill and down - very fun and flowy on the way down "the way up". I did have a few close calls with over-cooked switchbacks so was thankful that the rain kept most people away.
In all this loop was just over 10miles and something like 1700' of climbing...an hour and 40ish minutes of moving time and right at 2 hours total time. I was not fast but I had a great time. It was muddy enough that I had to re-lube at the top of the lollipop.

Thanks again for the suggestions and for steering me out of Calaveras. :thumbsup:
 

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Thought I would drop back in to say thanks. Got a couple of decent rides and I'll leave this note here for the next person who asks...

North Shore lake Hodges trail: start at Hernandez cove - good, safe parking. Trail is flowy and family friendly with a lot of cool stops to watch the abundant bird life for the kids. Can be a bit challenging to hold speed/flow for sheer traffic reasons.
Mount Bernardo: perfect little offshoot if you need a little extra at the back end of the North Shore trail. I rode this while my family had a snack break. Nice view of the lake from the top and a little ripper of a downhill.
With kids and stops, the whole thing was under 2.5 hours - I didn't get mileage and footies, but I'd guess 11-14 miles and maybe 1000' but there are no sustained climbs unless you go up mount Bernardo.

Then I needed another day where I could challenge myself a bit so headed out to Elfin Forrest in yesterday's rain. I saw this posted as a good after work ride. This was tough for me - tougher than I would typically ride after work. Started at the trailhead for Elfin Forrest which has good parking, port-a-Johns and water...plus bells for you to attach to your bike.
The initial climb on "the way up" trail has a lot of switchbacks that are immediately followed by rock steps that were pretty slippery yesterday - I walked probably a quarter of this trail on the way up.
Then rode Equine Incline CW: fun and flowy down with many bonus feature rocks to air - this uphill was way more doable, but I still had to walk a few short sections. With a little familiarity, I think I would be able to no dab this trail - I think "the way up" would take some considerable increase in my skill and fitness level to ride up without a dab or a stop.
I continued up to something called hernia hill - plenty of traction here even in the rain, but it is a gut buster of a short climb that gets steeper the further you go.
Dropped down the fire road to Lake Hodges overlook trail - very tight, rocky switchbacks at the beginning with a few strategically sprinkled throughout the lollipop shaped loop - just to keep you honest. All of it was rideable downhill but I again found myself walking a few of the tighter corners on the uphill.
Then back over the top of the hill and down - very fun and flowy on the way down "the way up". I did have a few close calls with over-cooked switchbacks so was thankful that the rain kept most people away.
In all this loop was just over 10miles and something like 1700' of climbing...an hour and 40ish minutes of moving time and right at 2 hours total time. I was not fast but I had a great time. It was muddy enough that I had to re-lube at the top of the lollipop.

Thanks again for the suggestions and for steering me out of Calaveras. :thumbsup:
Glad you were able to get out and enjoy the good here!
 
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