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Yesterday, an old college friend of mine rode the Fullerton Loop. It had rained the night before. Nonetheless, he indicated that the trail was enjoyable even though it was moist. I was inspired. So, I headed off to Whiting Ranch. The start of the trail head is at the corner of Portola and Alton in Foothill Ranch. You can park at the Ralph’s shopping center or pay $3 at the official parking lot for Whiting Ranch. It wasn’t but a 100 yards before the trail got really muddy so I turned back. Instead of the normal clockwise loop, I decided to venture to the end of the trail at Portola and Glen Ranch. At first, the trail was moist but still doable. I eventually rode up dreaded hill road in order to get a good workout. It is about an 800 foot climb in about .9 miles or so. This is equal to about a 15% to 25% grade. As I rode down the trail, I started to slow down. I started to think that something was wrong with my bike. I realized that it was the friction caused by the accumulating mud between my rear tire and bike frame. The caked on mud between my bottom bracket shell and rear tire was accumulating which slowed down the bike. The caked on mud on my tires provided no traction.
The conclusion, at least for me, is that I shouldn’t ride in the mud. I’ll take out my road bike next time after the rain.
I typically ride from Woodbury to Back Bay on the Mountain to Sea Trail. This trail also merges with Peters Canyon Trail. Eventually, the trail joins the Back Bay Loop which in my opinion is one of the easiest and safest road bike ride in Orange County.
Riding after work is pretty tiring. I want to get back home at a reasonable hour. So, I need to make the ride less than two hours. However, I can’t make it all the way around back bay loop in that time starting from Woodbury. My plan is to continue to ride to Back Bay from Woodbury and to ride as far as I can in one hour then turn around. Hopefully, my speed will increase until I can make the Back Bay Loop within my desired time. Here is my ride which I did in 1 hour 50 minutes.
Woodbury to Back Bay
Noble Canyon was nice. Miles of single track and small jumps. For the most part, Noble Canyon was 1/2 smooth and 1/2 rocks. I am definitely going again. I personally don’t think that Meadows which is the upper loopy part is worth the extra effort.
The trail head starts at N32 50.992 W116 31.364. You can do this as a shuttle ride or a loop. I was lucky enough to meet a guy who was kind enough to let me ride in the back of the pick up truck to the top of the trail. I guessing it was about 2000 feet without any work. If you decide to ride to the top of Noble Canyon, it will take some time (i.e., hours) to get to the top of the trail head. However, you will enjoy the downhill. It is worth effort ounce of sweat that you drop on the way up.
Meadows and Noble Canyon
Up Cholla, down rock-it, up Matthis to Top of the world, down Lynx, up Cholla and back down Cholla. 1855 feet climb and 9.81 miles. This was my route today at Aliso Wood. Aliso Wood is one of my favorite places to mountain bike because of the convenience factor. Also, it is a picturesque place with good shade so that the sun isn’t beating down on you all the time.
The trail head that I use is at the end of Canyon Vistas off of Pacific Park in Aliso Viejo. You enter from the small park which leads you down the main trail at the bottom of the canyon. Cholla is a small up hill climb that is good to start your ride. Rock-it is as the name implies a rock garden, at least in one section of the trail. Matthis is I believe the second longest uphill climb in the park next to Meadow. At the top of the world, you can see Laguna Beach. Sit there for awhile, you earned it. Ride back down the ridge then hit the Lynx trail. On the way back to the car, hit Cholla because your muscles are warm and the ride back down Cholla is an easy and fun to cool down your muscles.
I combined Whiting and Luge for a 3440 feet climb this past weekend. I’m a slow rider. It took me a long time to finish the ride.
The trail head starts at the corner of Alton and Portola in Foothill Ranch. The parking lot charges you $3. Or, you can park at the Ralph’s parking lot for free. The start of the Whiting loop is one way for bikes. At the end of the one way bike section, I took a left turn up a steep hill to an overlook section. Its beautiful up there and no one typically goes up there. You can see all of Orange County on one side. On the other side, you can kind of sort of see the trail to the Luge. It was quite special this time around because the trail itself had plants growing out of it.
To get to the Luge, ask the other bikers. A lot of people know how to get there. Essentially, you have to get to a horse stable and cross Santiago Canyon Road. Once you cross the road, go up and make a right at the first turn in. This is Modjeska Grade Road. You will continue to climb until you reach a large yellow gate. Go past the gate and continue your uphill climb until you reach a large American flag that you can literally touch. You can’t miss it. You will be happy when you see it because most of the hard work is done. Make a right turn and go down the Luge. Enjoy. The Luge is about a 1.3 mile long with a 2000 feet drop. At the street make a left turn and head towards Cooks Corner, a local biker bar. Make a right turn and go back to Whiting where you can enjoy some nice single track trails. Head back to the car and call it a good day.
Whiting and Luge Combined
After riding a hardtail for about 6 years, I really appreciate my new full suspension mountain bike – 2009 Giant Trance X2 with its Maestro Suspension. Giant says that its suspension “neutralize both pedaling and braking forces, yet allow the suspension to remain fully active over all types of terrain”. I can’t compare the Trance X2 with other suspension since this is my first full suspension bike.
I’ve ridden this bike for a few hundred miles so far. The suspension absorbs the small as well as the large bumps along the trail. I never turn on the pro pedal even during long uphill fire road climbs. Fireroads have bumps that need to be absorbed so that I can have a comfortable “cadillac” type ride. The shifting is crisp. The steering is responsive. I recommend this bike.
The route can be divided into four different sections. The uphill section. The never ending section. The downhill section, and the road back. Each section provides its own perspective of this area.
The trailhead of the Black Star can be reached by turning into Silverado Canyon Rd off of Santiago Canyon Rd. Make an immediate left turn and head to the end of the road. Parking is free. This is the start of the uphill section. It might seem like the hardest section but in my opinion, the hardest section is the never ending section. You climb for about 9 miles until you reach what appears to look like a teed up golf ball which is the location of Beeks place.
The never ending section is a series of rolling hills. Actually, they are quite big hills, a series of them. I did half of my total assent in this section and I felt as if it was forever. A couple of other riders that I met on the trail said that this section could also be called Pain Divide instead of the Main Divide. For me, this was the hardest section of the entire route.
At the end of the never ending section, you arrive at a dead end gate which leads to the right. This is the start of the downhill section and is referred to as Motorway. Motorway was loose rock all the way down and ends at Maple Springs.
As always, there were expansive view of Orange County and I could see the snow on Santiago Peak and Big Bear.
After finishing Motorway, the ride home is a downhill cruise back to your car.
Total Elevation: 4700 Feet
Time: 5 hours, 30 minutes
Avg Speed: 4.7 mph
Blackstar to Motorway
All the things that you’ve read over the internet about this trail is true. It is a great trail. You can either start from the road (i.e., Trabuco Canyon Rd and Trabuco Creek Rd in Trabuco Canyon). You can also start from the trail head which is about 4.7 miles in from the road. We started from the road adding an additional 10 miles to the trip. However, the 10 miles is an easy jaunt to the trail head compared to the actual Holy Jim trail. Also, the ride back is a blast since you have a few jumps that you can take safely. Its probably faster to bike it to and fro compared to the car.
The trail starts from Holy Jim going up the Main Divide, connects to Trabuco Canyon which leads you back down to the trail head for Holy Jim. Trabuco Canyon trail makes the loop a counterclockwise loop. You could go up Trabuco Canyon. However, the ride up might be a bit hard. After going down Trabuco Canyon, I’d rather go down Trabuco than up.
Holy Jim starts with a few stream crossings. I had to hike-a-bike the steep sections. Nonetheless, it is a tree shaded area. Once you gain some elevation, the trail is a series of switch backs giving you views of the canyon down below. You enter a tree covered section until you emerge off of Holy Jim Trail onto the North Main Divide. Hang a right, until you come to the Trabuco Canyon Rd trail. On your way there, you are treated with views of Lake Matthews and Lake Elsinore.
Watch out for the Trabuco Canyon trail head. We almost missed it except that my Garmin unit told me that I had passed the trail. The upper half of Trabuco is basically loose rock. It is dangerous because you could fall off and be stuck. Go with a buddy. Don’t go alone. The lower half of Trabuco is shaded and very peaceful.
Holy Jim to Trabuco
This trail was a bit dangerous for me. When I arrived at the trailhead, I contemplated doing the trail alone. However, after about 100 feet, I decided against it. If you slipped off the side of the single track trail, you could slide down and be helpless until the next rider found you. Luckily, I was able to tag along with some other first timers who would take it slow.
I reached the Joplin trail head by way of Harding truck trail starting from Tucker Wildlife Sanctuary. After about 6 miles of climbing, the trail head was located off to the right side between the two antenna towers. I wouldn’t have found it except for my GPS indicating that I had past the trail head. Even then, it took me a few minutes to find it.
The trail is single track all the way down. It went through loose rocky terrain. I slid down where the loose rocks gathered in the middle of a rut. At other places, it was very peaceful. Tree covered shade. Nonetheless, this trail is not for a novice. This trail requires skill, control, etc. to go down safely. Otherwise, you will be walking your bike for many different parts of the trail.
Old Camp is at the bottom of Joplin. You climb out of Old Camp onto Santiago Truck Trail back to Modjeska Grade Road which leads you back to Tucker Wildlife Sanctuary.
Harding Joplin Old Camp Santiago Truck Trail
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