As I look through my friend’s ride posts on Strava (a most popular bike posting site) I usually give them the “thumbs-up.” Often I ask questions or contribute comments. If I discover a ride I might want to try I bookmark the entry. This Black Mountain Triangle ride came about as a combination of a three different rides I had saved.
The weather was absolutely perfect as I prepped in the Canyonside Park parking lot with not a single biker in sight.
I started by riding down the Peñasquitos Freeway (which is not really a freeway but a dirt trail at least 20 feet wide and smooth as finished concrete).
My goal was to get to the waterfall turnoff, turn north (away from the falls), follow the trail to the duck pond, follow the trail along the east side of the pond, and continue on that trail to the top of the mesa.
I enjoyed riding a quick lap around the pond but found the nice flowing trail leaving the east side of the pond turned into an ugly, rocky, ankle-breaking hike-a-bike the last 50 yards prior to flattening out onto the mesa.
Once on top I headed over towards the Del Mar Mesa Preserve as I had heard I might be able to “legally” ride through the big gate and eventually down one of the tunnels to the northeast.
Sure enough, gone was the keep out sign having been replaced by a new trail sign pointing through!
Pass through I did! Once over by the huge eucalyptus trees I glanced up and saw Black Mountain in the distance … a small little molehill on the horizon. Hard to believe I would be passing behind that mountain later in the afternoon … it looked so far away!
Quickly I came and passed down the winding path of the tunnel. These tunnels are not underground (like a few I have previously biked) but a clearing cut through the dense foliage growing in a ravine.
Passing down one of these is like riding a wave of water sloshing high on one bank then across to the other and then across again … all this while ducking to miss thick arms waiting to yank my head off!
Once out of the tunnel I used my GPS route to find my way under Highway 56, Carmel Valley Road, and Camino Del Sur, only losing track of the route (temporary ) 2 or 3 times! Somewhere out there between roads I passed over a drainage ditch and was amazed at the beautiful flora … looked like someone had planted it strategically.
At one point I looked to the sky and spotted a most unusual cloud form … a spiraling shape I had never seen before in person. The funny part was I would never have heard of this form had Cindy and I not watched a new television program the night before called Strangest Weather on Earth!
Soon I found myself riding trails marked as Black Mountain which eventually took me into Black Mountain Ranch Park. I tried following my GPS track to get to the trailhead and rode across a bustling Carmel Mountain Road. Later I saw bikers passing under a bridge just down the hill and figured I must have missed the trail somewhere.
I rode the Black Mountain 1 Trail until I met the Miner’s Loop Trail at a parking lot. I looked at the posted map and got onto Miners Loop. However, Miners Loop is actually a loop with a tail attached … kind of like a sperm cell. I road around the “body” 1 1/2 times before figuring out I had to pass down the tail!
As I rode in the shadow of Black Mountain I began to worry I might not get to the truck before dark.
However, once back in the sunshine on Black Mountain’s southeastern shoulder I could see Mount Carmel High School below and I knew I could book-it back to the park in daylight … which I barely did!
Because of a utility path I only had to street ride a few hundred yards on my trip back to Peñasquitos Canyon. Once entering the canyon I made one hard right turn to find some rocky double and singletrack to follow all the way back to Canyonside Park … just after sunset!
When I cruised up to the truck I could see no parking spots. What a difference from 3 hours previous … when I was the only vehicle. Another pickup truck sat waiting while I loaded my bike into the back of my truck and and got the rest of my smelly gear into the back seat. As I pulled out of my parking spot a Mini Cooper shot into the spot! The fellow in the truck started honking his horn and from my rear view mirror I could see him getting out of his truck. He looked to be a big guy so I assume the guy but I didn’t stick around to see if the mini ended up moving.