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6 Must-Ride Mountain Bike Trails in California

Updated: Jan 22, 2021

Stretching nearly 900 miles from its southern Mexican border along the Pacific to the Oregon border, California is a recreational playground offering outdoor enthusiasts a wide range of mountain bike trails. The state’s trail system has something for everyone, from scenic coastline trails to incredible routes that traverse California’s rugged mountains and lush valleys. To help you make the most out of your California mountain bike Adventure, we’ve highlighted six of the Golden State’s must-ride mountain bike trails for you to enjoy.

#1 Mt. Wilson Trail – Pasadena

The Mount Wilson Trail in Los Angeles is widely known as a gem for downhill mountain biking. Boasting a 5,000-foot vertical descent in less than eight miles, Mt. Wilson is the best ride in Southern California if you’re into enduro mountain biking.

To begin your Adventure, you’ll want to take the shuttle up to the top of this trail. The upper and middle sections are very narrow in spots and feature crazy switchbacks that will test your mountain bike skills. This trail’s totaling time is roughly 1.5 – 2.5 hours and will take you through various singletrack trails with stunning views and challenging terrain.

This is an advanced ride for bikers with strong handling skills. For riders looking to send this trail for the first time, Michal Kollbek is a professional mountain bike racer who frequently visits Mt. Wilson. You can see his guide profile on the Adventure IO app and book a guided ride down the mountain!

One of Santa Monica’s most famous mountain bike rides, the Westridge Singletrack Loop is a great local ride that’s not too technical and functions as a great workout with Instagram-worthy views. The loop covers 11.6 miles and winds its way under shady sycamore trees and past running water as you begin your mountain bike ride with a short ascent up Sullivan Canyon. The main trail is a doubletrack, but there are singletrack routes that cross the wider path.

After making it through the loose rocks of Sullivan Fire Road and Mulholland Drive Fire Road, bikers make their way towards the scenic viewpoints near the Nike Missile Base Site. This is the perfect place to cool-down and refill your water bottles or use the restroom because next comes a local favorite, the Westridge Singletrack. With a max decline grade of 23 percent, this trail’s descent provides short, steep climbs from the Westridge / Mandeville Fire Road, followed by fast flowy descents.

Riders looking for a local pro to show them around Santa Monica’s fantastic mountain bike path can reach out to Adventure IO guide and professional mountain bike racer, Michal Kollbek, through our app and book a ride!

#3 Los Peñasquitos Canyon – San Diego

Encompassing more than 4,000 acres of the Peñasquitos and Lopez canyons, Los Peñasquitos Canyon, in San Diego, is one the largest urban parks in the United States. Nestled within the famous state park lies a widespread network of trails that feature the right amount of tech and singletrack riding.

Los Peñasquitos Canyon Preserve East-West trail provides access to a majority of the Preserve's trails. Here, bikers will discover a waterfall, duck pond and diverse wildlife. Riders can also venture out to "Tunnels” - a fully encapsulated trail system covered with the indigenous California Manzanita trees.

Whether you’re just visiting San Diego or a local looking to give mountain bike riding a try, Doug Wolkon, of North of the Border Bike Shop, will hook you up with the right gear from head to toe and guide you through the legendary urban park. Reserve your spot on this San Diego mountain bike Adventure today!

#4 The Elings Loop – Santa Barbara

Elings Loop is a 10+ mile, flowy, downhill trail loop that also features a couple of good climbs. The loop is just one of the many state-of-the-art attractions in Elings Park, the largest privately funded park in America. Sitting only a few miles outside of downtown Santa Barbara and overlooking the Pacific Ocean, Elings Park is the perfect destination for beginning mountain bikers and experienced riders looking to get a quick workout in.

Bike rentals and guided tours of the mountain bike trail are available from our partners at Cal Coast Adventures. Mountain bike parks in California don’t get much better than this, so be sure you visit their profile in the Adventure IO app to reserve your spot on a Santa Barbara Mountain Bike Tour this weekend!

#5 Hi'r Line and Dia Loop – San Clemente

Located near the Camp Pendleton Marine Corps Base in San Clemente, the Hi’r Line and Dia loop is a multi-loop network of trails that start on Hi’r Line. This twisty, single-track trail mixes in berms and jumps for an exciting ride.

After crossing the creek, the loop turns into an easy cross-country trail that works perfectly as a warm-up or cool-down ride before heading down the Dia jump trail. Dia is incredibly fun as it features many alternate lines.

Avid mountain biker and former professional wakeboarder Nando Sarasua rides the loop daily and is the perfect guide to show you the ropes! Book an Adventure on one of San Clemente’s most famous mountain bike trail systems.

#6 Wilder Ranch - Santa Cruz

No list of California mountain bike trails is complete without mentioning the Bay Area’s iconic Wilder Ranch. On one side of Highway One, the routes run parallel to the bluffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean. On the other side of the highway, riders are treated to some nice redwood-forested single track and gorgeous ocean views of Monterey Bay and the Pacific Ocean.

Wilder Ranch is a go-to riding spot when you first venture out and explore Santa Cruz county’s trails. Professional mountain bike racer Emmet Hiemstra offers guided rides through Wilder Ranch for bikers of all skill levels. Visit his guide profile on the Adventure IO app to book your mountain bike Adventure.

Sunset mountain bike riding in California

California is home to trails of all different terrain types and is suitable for all riding styles. And if you need help getting out there or prefer a professional guide to show you trails ahead of time, check out these other Adventures below on the AIO web app to connect with real pros and local experts and #gowiththepros!


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