A few Saturdays ago my friend Derek brought me to a classic San Diego mountain biking destination - Noble Canyon.
Located 30 miles due east of San Diego in the Cleveland National Forest, a little bit south and east of California's beautiful Anza-Borrego State Park.
Since we were a little bit pressed for time, we were at the trailhead, ready to ride at the tree-rimmed Pine Valley parking lot about 8:00 that morning.
There are a few variations of the ride that can be done, with many others doing the ride as a shuttle. We chose to "earn the turns" by making the trek up the steep road to the trail head.
Pine Valley Road is a narrow paved road that climbs from the parking lot (elevation 3700') to the start of the trail - about four miles long and 1600' up. The climb is pretty constant, but at times became a 20% grade. Aside from other riders shuttling up, there's zero auto traffic.
After the long climb we finally hit the dirt.
There were a couple of other groups that were taking the trail on the same day, a little map check was in order. Note the dead trees - a forest fire swept through the area back in 2003.
The trail starts out as relatively mild (but fun) singletrack in a pine forest.
Surprisingly there were a few small creek crossings.
About a third of the way down is where the technical and rocky sections start.
Most of the trail is exposed with scrub brush providing zero shade along the way. Bring lots of water - and it's probably best not to ride it in the middle of the summer.
Towards the bottom the trail is mostly buffed smooth and super-grippy. Here's Derek pushing the pedals after a long morning in the saddle.
The Pivot worked admirably; an efficient pedaler with just the right amount of travel (140mm) for a longer ride on rougher terrain.
And finally a map of the ride, ridden clockwise starting on the bottom left corner.
mileage - 13.13 miles
time - 2 hours, 46 minutes
2500' elevation gain
max speed - 41.5 MPH
Here's a link to more info on the trail.