San Diego is one of those big cities that’s known for a lot – its beaches and surf culture, indie music scene, international cuisine, military bases, farmers markets, and attractions like Balboa Park, Sea World, the San Diego Zoo, and Sea World…
But one of the best parts of living in the County, is that there are tons of mountain biking trails spread throughout that can accommodate every level of biker. There are honestly far too many trails and mountains to write about, but here are a few of our favorite local spots.
Whether you’re a long-time mountain biking enthusiast, or just getting into the sport, you simply can’t leave or live in San Diego without riding at least one of these…
Located in the northern hills of Escondido, just off interstate 15, Daley Ranch is known by San Diego locals for its extensive array of trails and its long hills, which make for long aerobic workouts. The highest point on the trails reaches over 1900 feet.
If you’re looking for steeper climbs and better scenery, the western half of the trail is for you. Creek Crossing and Sage Trail offer less strenuous climbs, while still maintaining great views of the mountains.
- Cougar Ridge
- Engelmann Oak
- Cougar Ridge
- Boulder Loop
- Ranch House Trail
- Creek Crossing
- East Ridge Trail
- Sage Trail
- Cougar Run
- Caballo Trail
- Old Tank Trail
- Jack Creek Meadow Loop
- Hidden Spring Trail
- Bobcat Trail
- Burnt Trail
- Crest Trail
- Rock Ridge
- Coyote Run
- Diamond Back
You can enter the Ranch from 3 different directions:
EL CABALLO PARK
Lots of free parking
Difficult trailheads into the Ranch
Moderate amount of free parking
Difficult trailheads into the Ranch
LA HONDA DRIVE
Lots of free Parking
Easy to Moderate trailheads into the Ranch
Check out this interactive map of all the trails
Interactive Map of Daley Ranch Trails
Raptor Ridge lies at the West edge of San Pasqual Valley. From the valley side it’s a steep climb and an even steeper downhill to the other side. There’s a great view of the valley from up there. It’s great for a short, strenuous ride if you go up one side, down the other, then back up and down. However, if you really want a long ride, you can use the Ridge as a starting point and then ride it all the way to Mule Hill in Escondido, and even through to North Hodges, where your ride can take you all the way to the south-side dam if you choose.
Lake Hodges is surrounded by mountain trails on all sides and is the at the heart of many long biking and hiking trails that stretch from East to West across Escondido and surrounding counties.
With each trail, there are multiple segments that branch off, giving riders the option of beginning to advanced, light to strenuous rides.
MULE HILL (EAST HODGES)
The East trail of Hodges is flat and straight with minor segments of small hills (more like mounds really), making it a great ride for beginners or those without proper gear. However, after the first 5 miles or so, it branches off into more strenuous and technical routes that you can choose from. You can even take it all the way to Raptor Ridge, then either turn back for a fantastic, technical downhill, or ride down the other side into the valley and keep going for a while. Mule Hill can be accessed from the Escondido side of Lake Hodges, right of the I-15, in a small lot near a storage facility.
North Hodges is a favorite among the more technical riders, because it starts off with a nice warm-up ride, then branches off into a single-track with lots of sharp turns and rocks and dips and creeks. It passes Hernandez Hideaway, the Boat Launch, and goes on through an even more technical, heavily-forested trail, all the way to the dam on the South Side. North Hodges can be accessed from the same lot on the Escondido side, which makes it perfect for connecting to Mule Hill, should you want to extend your ride out further.
South Hodges is a great place to take a beginner or intermediate mountain biker. While there are advanced options along the way, most of it is flat, single-tracks. It’s a less populated area, as most people prefer the North Side from Escondido. It can be accessed from a small lot at the edge of Rancho Bernardo, right of the I-15.
Mount Woodson is more commonly known as the home of Potato Chip Rock – selfie central for San Diego’s hiking community. Most locals don’t realize that it’s actually a great mountain biking trail as well, especially for downhill enthusiasts.
The Poway-side trail is a relatively moderate 7.5 miles, with some smooth climbs and long flat trails. It gets more technical towards the summit, where the trail winds around giant boulders common in the area.
The Ramona-side trail is much shorter, but far more technical. It winds through those famous Ramona boulders and thick woods, where roots and rocks and furry creatures have overgrown much of the trail. It’s a fun downhill for sure, but bikers should take more caution as you could easily find yourself in mid-air over a very rocky landing.
Because of the tourist draw of Potato-Chip Rock, we recommend a bike bell and urge you to be incredibly cautious and aware of hikers, as at some points, the trails become single track and there are a lot of corners.