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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello all,

My wife and I are visiting San Diego in early August for her birthday and will have 2 days to get some riding in. We are looking for recommendations on where to ride that will give us the best taste of San Diego riding and will choose our lodging location to match.

We have a young daughter (will be 7 months old at the time of the trip) so we will need to take turns riding and watching the little one. We can either have one person ride one day and the other the next, or split the days in half meeting for lunch in between.

The wife: is what I would call beginner to intermediate skill wise, but closer to a beginner fitness wise (pregnancy/child birth does a number on the body). So she would be looking for shorter distance green and blue trails. She rides a 120/120 27.5 bike now, may or may not have something burlier by then.

I am more advanced. I ride black trails comfortably and can handle most double blacks only walking a spot or two. We live in Tucson and I ride Mt Lemmon quite a bit. I am up for bigger mileage as well, but am fine with shorter rides. I ride a 160/150 29er most of the time.

We are both cool with shuttling each other or doing loops.

Thanks in advance!
 

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You'll probably get suggestions for Noble Canyon / Big Laguna and San Juan Trail. These are two of our better nearby rides but aren't actually in San Diego and will be 60-90 mins drive depending where you stay. Though you could easily hit Noble/Big Laguna on your drive out or drive home, which might be a great option. Then ride something else the other day.

Are you looking to actually stay in SD, closer to the water? And are you willing to drive to ride? We have tons of trails systems, many of which are fun and good for 2-3 hours riding but aren't destination worthy. Some other system are pretty meh. In August anything more than ~15 mins inland will be pretty hot, often high 80s/low 90s, unless you can get higher in elevation or ride early/late in the day.

Some trail systems that are closer to the coast that are good for a few hours and on the easier side (less climbing, less technical) are Penasquitos Canyon (ride the Tunnels, very unique), Lake Hodges, and Sweetwater/Otay Mesa in Chula Vista. You'd probably need a guide for the last one. There are some other systems nearby as well that have steeper/rockier/more sustained climbing - La Costa, Elfin Forest, Black Mountain. Lots of these can be combined together into bigger rides if you want more mileage but some of those connections might require a guide or GPS track to follow.

Take a look at Trailforks and see what interests you
 

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He's coming from Tucson so he'll probably laugh at what we think is hot... ;)

Although, judging by the last few years, it might be more humid than he's used to.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks for the suggestions!

As for where to stay, we don’t care much about the beach, SD was mostly picked for being a fun city, close to home, with reasonable summer temps, and some good riding. Given your info we will probably look to stay somewhere that provides access to both the trails and the city as opposed to staying near the water.

As for weather. We grew up in southern NY and NJ where high 80’s/low 90’s with humidity were the norm in summer. Since then we have lived in Pensacola FL, Southern GA (inland), Little Rock AR, Albuquerque NM, and Tucson AZ. All of which make high 80’s/low 90’s seem cool and the first three are more humid than anything out west here. Not bringing this up as a dick measuring thing, just pointing out that we are well accustomed to much higher heat indexes so we aren’t too worried about temps.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
So we are absolutely willing to drive to ride 30-60 min drives for us to ride are very typical as is. We are driving out day one, have 2 full days, then home on day 4.

I did ride Rock House DH over at sweetwater reservoir with a friend once on a work trip out there when we had a half day off, so I have seen that.

So far looking at Trailforks with the above suggestions in mind we are thinking one day do the big Laguna/noble canyon trip since big laguna looks perfect for my wife and Noble Canyon for me. I can watch the kid while she does a Big Laguna Lap and her watch the kid while I hit Noble.

Looking at some of the other suggestions for the other day.
 

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Great call on big Laguna for her, noble for you. You guys can tack on Los Gatos and... red roost I think it’s called? For some additional climb and descent around the meadow. But yah, not only is it a great riding option, the sights are unbelievable. Feels like you’re in Big Sky country.

Also in east county, Anderson Truck Trail. The truck trail itself is very accommodating to beginner riders. What makes it fun for even pro riders is fast n loose, Spicolli 1.1, and Spicolli 2.0 (no idea if I spelled any of those correctly). Those are 3 purpose built mtb trails with some serious tech, berms, steepness, and all around fun. Hitting those 3, then bombing back down the truck trail might be my favorite loop in all of SD.

Black Mountain is a fun loop, especially if you include the newer segments on the southeast side. Black widow is being rebuilt, but lilac, miners ridge, and the new stuff makes for 8-9 miles and 1700ft or so.

Penasquitos has fun segments but I would ride with a guide or do a lot of research. It’s a big web with a lotttt of boring options mixed in with the fun. Although I couldn’t agree more: Tunnels is super unique, and you and your wife would love it. If you do ride PQ, get Tunnel 4 and Tunnel 1 in the mix (other tunnels are closed... it’s a touchy subject). Your wife would enjoy cobbles DH, you’d both probably enjoy Waimea. PQ does have the benefit of being less climb per mile.

I would only recommend Hodges or Otay if you want (essentially) no climbing at all. They’re both single track, but just undulating around their respective lakes. Hodges is like 400 ft on a 15 mile loop. If you’re used to blacks, you’ll be bored out of your mind.

Oh, and throw your bikes in the ocean before you go near mission trails. A bunch of old fire road being passed off as “trails”. Of course, lucky me, this system is in my backyard and every other ride I’ve described is at least 20 minutes away.
 

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I'd avoid Black Mountain, Anderson Truck Trail, La Costa, Pensaquitos and Daley Ranch that time of year as it gets pretty blown out and dusty by August. You can't go wrong with Noble Canyon and BLT and another thing to consider that time of year is road riding along the coast where it's almost always in the low 70s. One good road ride option is to start in the city and take the train up to Oceanside or Orange County and ride back down.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I'd avoid Black Mountain, Anderson Truck Trail, La Costa, Pensaquitos and Daley Ranch that time of year as it gets pretty blown out and dusty by August. You can't go wrong with Noble Canyon and BLT and another thing to consider that time of year is road riding along the coast where it's almost always in the low 70s. One good road ride option is to start in the city and take the train up to Oceanside or Orange County and ride back down.
Not a bad idea to consider, we could always bring the gravel bikes too and the trailer for the kid... hmmmm
 

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Dirty Old Man
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Great call on big Laguna for her, noble for you. You guys can tack on Los Gatos and... red roost I think it's called? For some additional climb and descent around the meadow. But yah, not only is it a great riding option, the sights are unbelievable. Feels like you're in Big Sky country.

...........
I would only recommend Hodges or Otay if you want (essentially) no climbing at all. They're both single track, but just undulating around their respective lakes. Hodges is like 400 ft on a 15 mile loop. If you're used to blacks, you'll be bored out of your mind.

Oh, and throw your bikes in the ocean before you go near mission trails. A bunch of old fire road being passed off as "trails". Of course, lucky me, this system is in my backyard and every other ride I've described is at least 20 minutes away.
Clearly you don't ride Sweetwater the way I do. ;) I average at least 200ft of climbing per mile when I ride there. The issue with Sweetwater is that most people either climb to Rockhouse and then turn around and go back down (rather than taking Goat to Tic), or they meander around the low trails on the backside.

I'd agree that Laguna is a great ride if you want something that isn't too challenging but offers great views. The idea of splitting yours and hers up between Laguna and Noble is great. However, if you want some proper fun you need to head up to Greer. That's where your double black trails and bike park-esque trails are going to be.

Penasquitos can be fun but it's a lot of "connect the dots". Fun sections of singletrack connected by fireroads or doubletrack. If you park in "The Preserve" (neighborhood) you can cut across the top of the mesa to bowtie, tunnels, and the rim trails for a relatively short, fun ride without a lot of elevation.

If you want you can check my Strava and download the GPX files of some of the trails here. https://www.strava.com/athletes/3071082

Just sayin', if I was coming here for two days with my wife, I'd do the Laguna/Noble split for the atmosphere and then do a morning myself at Greer.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Just sayin', if I was coming here for two days with my wife, I'd do the Laguna/Noble split for the atmosphere and then do a morning myself at Greer.
Great idea in general, but not sure that ditching her with the baby to go ride Greer is the best idea for her Birthday weekend unless you know something up that way that is fun and more her speed that we could use to do another split like at Noble/Laguna
 

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San Juan trail is not particularly technical, just a long downhill with one or two rock gardens. Definitely doable by an intermediate. Both it and Noble/BLT are very easily shuttleable (with trailheads at the bottom with bathrooms, creeks, shade etc) which would make it work with the kiddo
 

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Dirty Old Man
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Great idea in general, but not sure that ditching her with the baby to go ride Greer is the best idea for her Birthday weekend unless you know something up that way that is fun and more her speed that we could use to do another split like at Noble/Laguna
Unfortunately I'm not familiar with the trails that far north to make any other recommendations. Maybe rent an e-bike for her? ;)
 

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Yeah I figured you would be able to handle heat. But I always mention it as people from AZ often come out here looking for cooler temps but you can still get cooked on rides like Noble Cyn and anything away from the coast.

You're starting to get suggestions well away from SD. Greer is 60-90mins away with no traffic depending where you're staying. And there is almost always traffic going through Temecula these days. It is a fun system for sure but might be farther away than you want. As mentioned Vail lake is nearby, but another 25mins away from I-15 at Temecula. There is also Santa Rosa Plateau which is more mellow xc, and would be a bit less driving than Vail.

If you want to stay near fun areas of the city - I would generally equate that to west of I-15 or 805, south of I-8 and north of Route 94 (North/South Park, Normal Heights, Hillcrest, Mission Hills, downtown, Ocean beach/Pt Loma/Pacific Beach, or maybe beach areas in Del Mar or north. That covers a lot of ground that can put you closer to or further from some riding areas. Anything near I-8 is going to be pretty central and easy to access for you.
 

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A bit more out of the way is Skypark. But you can both go there and take turns riding bikes and walking around the park with the kid.
It's not close (probably like 2 1/2 hour drive) but this is a great suggestion. They will have trails for each of your skill levels and there are plenty of cool places in the village for either of you to pass time with the little one out of the heat. Trails there are top notch and very fun. It's worth every penny of admission.

Great trails, good food options, cold beer, access to any of the other things in the park included with admission (zip line, etc) all right within the park.
 
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