Sunday, April 1, 2007

Hidden Gems

I just love hidden gems. You know the type...those little things you discover right under your nose you wished you had found long ago. For me, hidden gems usually come in the form of a great restaurant or an eclectic store...but today, the hidden gem I found came in the form of a trail.

The first clues of these hidden gem trails were given to me by a couple of guys I stopped to talk to on the trail a couple of weeks ago while I was out riding my Masi CXR cross bike out at Lake Hodges. These guys talked about this marathon ride they do where they start at Lake Hodges and ride around it, then they head east and ride through the San Pasqual Valley and back, and then turn off onto a nearby paved street (Highland Valley Road) and hit a trail aptly called the Highland Valley Trail, and then back to the car at Hodges.

I knew that the San Pasqual Valley Trail existed, but had never heard of the Highland Valley Trail. So today, since the weather was nice (like 80 degrees), I decided to just make a morning out of exploring these trails aboard my trusty pink Haro Sonix VL120.

I started with the Hodges Lake Trail, which I've done a million times. After I completed that out-and-back trail, I turned east and headed out on the San Pasqual Trail. I'd ridden out just a few miles on this trail before, but never all the way to the end...which was 10 miles out past the San Diego Wild Animal Park. This really turned out to be really fun; flat in the beginning, but it gave way to some grunty climbs and nice downhill singletrack sections. This valley is ripe with agriculture; you pass through dairys (yes, smelly, but still cool), orange orchards, and vegetable fields. One of the greatest things is I really didn't see a soul.

View from San Pasqual Trail looking east; it's small, but the SD Wild Animal Park is in the distance.

Another view looking east. Note the pond in the foreground; I might have to bring a pole back here and try for a big catfish.

View of San Pasqual Valley from the Raptor Ridge Viewpoint.

After ridng the San Pasqual Trail all the way to the end, I turned off onto Highland Valley Road on the way back and went to find the Highland Valley Trail. It was right where I was told I'd find it, and boy, was I eer glad I found it! Although not very long (probably 2 or 4 miles), it was super fun! Lots of rolling singletrack nestled among oak trees; the trail just flowed like water. And again...didn't see a soul on it. Here are three different views from the trail:

When it was all said and done, I rode nearly 40 miles and was out for about 4 hours (hey, I didn't claim to set any speed records!). Needless to say, I'm pretty whooped; 40 miles off-road is a LONG ride. But you gotta love the hidden gems!


Tim Jackson- Masi Guy said...

Yep... gotta love'em.

Howard said...

Well, it seems my 2007 Shift R5 has morphed into a 2006 Sonix VL120. Mine won't be nearly as cool as your blinging pink one, but I'm still excited about it.

Love the pictures...the one thing I wish we had more of was mountains...uh, not to ride in, but to look at.

jill hamilton said...

Hi Howard,

Well I'd say you made out like a bandit on the deal...the Sonix is an awesome bike! Just make sure you follow the instructions on the tag attached to the rear shock to get the rear suspension set up right. It will ride much better than the Shift bikes if set up right.

Have fun!