I had noticed people posting rides through Gonzales Canyon on Strava (a GPS tracking app that many of us mountain bikers us to track our rides and share ride info with others). One such track showed the rider hitting many of the trails in Gonzales Canyon which netted him only 10.8 miles and 1,298 feet of climbing. On another track the rider spent less time in Gonzales but continued on to beach via the Crest to Coast Trail … netting him 16.9 miles and 1,422 feet of climbing. So, I loaded both tracks onto my Garmin 800 and set out to combine some of their features (these rides can be found at Strava Track #1 and Strava Track #2.
I did create my own starting point, parking the truck on the little stub of Carmel Valley Road that protrudes below Highway 56 (Ted Williams Parkway). I like this location as it is easy to get to and allows good access for many different rides.
After I left the truck I followed the pavement, making the right turn, went down the hill, made a right turn, and passed north under the bridge.
A narrow piece of nice singletrack took me on a gradual climb under Del Mar Heights Road and eventually into Gonzales Canyon. I did a little trail exploration once north of Del Mar Heights Road but eventually ended up on one of the two main drags leading into Gonzales Canyon following the Strava Track #1 I had copied onto my GPS. This “trail” was mostly a dirt fire road until I neared the west end of the canyon … where it turned a slim path passing through a thick mass of vegetation.
One such part of this vegetation was the largest patch of poison oak I have ever seen! Lining the left side of the trail this thicket was at least thirty feet wide and one hundred feet long. I hugged the right side of the trail not wanting to get my third episode of the tormenting rash for the year!
Just before leaving Gonzales Canyon I found myself looking down upon a beautiful horse ranch with the ocean in the distance. To pass the ranch I had to descend to a dry creek bed.
After easily crossing through the dense flora at the bottom I came upon another astonishing sight … a whole mountain of cactus. I have witnessed a lot of cactus while riding in Arizona but never this much in one place! I wondered if this place used to be some kind of cactus farm. I know we use to have some cactus farms in Lakeside but those were of the Prickly Pear variety. I am not sure which type these were but they were not Prickly Pear. I took several photos of the mountain but could not seem to capture the magnitude of the sight.
Upon leaving Gonzales Canyon I switched my GPS to follow Strava Track #2. I had to take small pieces of three different paved roads to get to the Crest to Coast Trail. The first two were not too bad but El Camino Real was very busy and had absolutely no space allotted for bikes.
I found the Crest to Coast Trail right after passing over the bridge spanning the San Dieguito River but found the trail closed due to a washout. So I had to backtrack and ride some more on El Camino Real and Via de la Valle to get around a massive horse ranch and get back onto the Crest to Coast.
From there the Crest to Coast is a beautiful trail hugging the wetlands of the river … passing under Interstate 5, skirting the Del Mar Fairgrounds, crossing a railroad track, and ultimately ending at the beach.
I have heard of people saying they go to Dog Beach with their pets but never really knew where Dog Beach was located. Well, now I know … on either side of where the San Dieguito River empties into the Pacific Ocean.
After a few “pug” shots I retraced my route but decided to ride to a place called Crest Canyon Open Space Park. The trail I took up into the park was a singletrack but very sandy … but the return route was more firm and road real fast (by checking out the map I guess I could have gone farther into Crest Canyon but I never saw a trail branching of off of the loop (I did see a small piece of trail leading over to a rickety wood stairway behind a house which I am pretty sure was not the trail).
From Canyon Crest I just reversed my route. I stopped along the river for an orange and some trail mix, circled the horse ranch, braved El Camino Real, and reentered Gonzales Canyon… where I switched back to the Strava Track #1 route on my Garmin.
I followed the Torrey Pines Loop Trail which led me up to Torre Pines High School (I had to hike-a-bike a couple sections due to the incline). I passed through a dog park right behind the school and took a lovely flowing singletrack back to bottom of Gonzales Canyon.
By looking at Strava Tract #1 I knew I could have hit a few more trails up near the high school but I was running out of time … didn’t want to miss Sissy’s (my granddaughter’s) softball game. So I took the other main drag out of Gonzales Canyon and returned to the truck.
When I looked at my GPS I was a little surprise I had biked over twenty five miles and climber more than 1,600 feet. This ride was supposed to be real easy since I was still a little sore from my Santa Ana River Trail ride on Sunday. But I love to explore new places.