Pine Creek is the first part of the ride I call The Noble Canyon Loop. I have called it the Noble Canyon Loop due to the length and quality of the last part of the trek… the Noble Canyon Trail. The ride proceeds as follows. To look at another leg of the ride just click on it’s name below.
Though I had ridden Noble Canyon Loop several times in the past, I had never taken pictures good enough to use in a website. I decided I would treat myself to riding it again. I set aside a Sunday and got everything ready the night before. I seldom got to do a big ride in May due to coaching high school baseball, Mother’s Day, home projects, etc. I was really looking forward to getting out there.
Lakeside was clear and cool that early Sunday morning as I headed to the mountains.
The Noble Canyon Trail sits in our local mountains… about 25 minutes away. I found the drive to be quite relaxing. I took the Pine Valley off-ramp and headed for the Pine Valley Store… to get my adventure pass. Foolishly I had driven fifteen miles to the Ranger Station (in Alpine) on Saturday to obtain one. Of course, I should have known Ranger Stations would only be open Monday-Friday during my hours of work. Don’t most people hike, bike, camp,… on weekends?
The Ranger Station bulletin board listed several stores that sold them. Most of the places near the Ranger Station no longer sold them. The woman at the Pine Valley Store said they had plenty and they opened at 6 a.m.. Perfect! I got the Annual Pass for $25, the second vehicle pass for $5, and a couple of Cliff Bars… then set off to the trail head.
There must have been 12 riders preparing to go on rides when I pulled into the only remaining spot. I attached my pass to the mirror, grabbed my phone and wallet, then opened the door and… FROZE! I couldn’t believe how frigid it was. The trailhead was only about 2 miles from the store, but 20 degrees colder! I looked around for something to put on and found an old jacket Cindy had left in her car. The mountain-biker in the next spot over (who was readying his gear) looked at me kind of strangely… I guess due to the purple/pink color of the jacket I surmised. I told him, “It’s my wife’s,” to which he said he understood. He was busy pulling on some leg warmers.
One of his buddies rode over and told him he wasn’t going to be able to ride that day… his crank was loose and he didn’t have a hex wrench big enough. I offered him one (I had begun toting a large tool box in my vehicle for pre-ride adjustments). After the crank tightening they were ready to go. Five were riding hard tails and the other full suspension … some with 29-inch wheels… some carbon fiber… all with only one front ring. Then they left… and… later they would end up passing me.
I whipped off Cindy’s jacket, jumped on my bike, and headed up past the kiosk… where the six riders had disappeared. Two trails headed off from this spot. I suspected the 6 guys had gone right, which I knew would take them up and around the first mountain ahead… then up the Noble Trail (I had ridden that route before).
I had never before noticed the trail heading left… in the direction I wanted to go… so I took it. The trail left turned out to be a nice single track running along the back fence of some houses. I much preferred this trail to riding up Pine Creek Road, like I had when previously doing this loop. I am going to call this trail the Pine Creek Trail.
A mile or so up, this trail split. I had a feeling the right went directly to the Nobel Canyon Trail and straight would bring me to Pine Creek Road… so I took the
straight. My feet got totally soaked crossing Pine Creek (just from the splash) but the trail did hit Pine Creek Road a half-mile further.
Cranking up blacktop roads is not real exciting… and this one was true to form. Some segments were really steep. I struggled to keep moving, even in my lowest gear. The most challenging part was the last half-mile before the Deer Park Road turn-off. That was where those same 6 riders passed me.
They waited at the Deer Park Road turn-off, not for me, but for one of their guys to water a bush. I asked them how they got behind me and found, as I had figured, they had ridden the right hand trail (Noble) at the Kiosk. They had gone around that lower mountain (a couple of miles)… rode to the paved road… then caught up with me.
The wind was blowing hard and we were all chilled. I said, “Damn it’s cold,” to which one of them said, “It’s going to be colder up there,” and pointed up the mountain. I looked, and saw what he was talking about. Another 1000 feet in elevation gain would put us in the clouds… literally. We quickly headed down the dirt surface of Deer Park Road (I let them go first) which dropped us out of the wind. I watched their shapes get smaller until they disappeared into the road.I didn’t stop until just short of The Indian Springs Trail turn-off, where there was supposed to be a rock house. I had read in two separate publications about a rock house located there, along with proximal mining activity. Last time I was here there was no rock house and… there still wasn’t a rock house here! I guess it must have burned down… do rock houses burn? I hiked all around… looking for mining activity… but saw none. I didn’t climb up on the mountain behind as it was a thicket of brush, real thick… and a lot of it was poison oak! The only discovery I made was a rock-hound hammer which lay in the tall grass.
I don’t think it was left by a 49’er, since it still had the price tag on it. I left it there for someone who really wanted to dig.
Within 50 yards of the missing house I spotted the sign for the Indian Creek Trail. I crossed the trickle called… Indian Creek… and started up the trail I knew so well. Why did I know the Indian Creek Trail so well? Click below to find out.