The Rancho La Costa Habitat Conservation Area, also known as Denk Mountain, is found in north San Diego south of San Marcos, east of Carlsbad, and north east of Encinitas. The La Costa trails are only about 6 miles in length but are very well maintained. The quality of these trails is unbelievable, thanks to the Rancho La Costa HCA and the San Diego Mountain Bike Association. A popular route is up the Switchbacks Trail and then down the Vista Del Mar trail. The Vista Del Mar trail is a blast to come down. It flows perfectly and has a few technical spots to keep you on your toes. Do this twice and you’ve got yourself a good workout. There is also a popular steep advanced trail down the middle called “NASCAR”, advanced riders only. The views from the top of this hill are quite amazing, especially on a clear day you can see from Downtown San Diego to Catalina Island.
From I-5 exit Leucadia Blvd East 1.8 mi. Continue on Olivenhain Rd 0.9 mi, Slight right at Rancho Santa Fe Rd 1.0 mi.Turn right at Camino Junipero 0.2 mi. Turn left at Corte Romero and park here. Please don’t drive up by the homes in the area. The start of the ride is up 100 yards, right on Sitio Salvia and then right on a dirt road.
Granted I am a very new rider, I found the slope to be way too high to enjoy either the incline or the decline. Perhaps those is great aerobic shape will find the beginning (incline) somewhat enjoyable. On a positive note, most of the trails were wide and the scenery was great. The best part of my ride was riding sounthbound on Rancho Santa Fe Dr.
I like riding this trail. I only ride every couple of months because I know it will require a lot of effort for low amount of miles. This is a very challenging ride but everything is rideable. The switchbacks require some good bike handling but they are doable. The west side of trail is looser than the east side. It is possible to piece together a 10 mile ride here by some creative trail navigating. Nascar is a fun challenging down hill with some rather large drops if you like that stuff. You can ride around the drops, which is what I do and still enjoy some challenging sections. The east side of the trails flow nice, only a few steep sections. You will really appreciated the chicken coop fencing that lines the trail for traction. It is definetly needed.
This trail is super fun. The climbs are a good lung workout, not the hardest I've done but also not the easiest by far. One has to time their pedaling so there's no pedal bashing on the rocks. But, the downhill is sweeeeet!I puts a super, fat smile on your face!It's so worth the climb. So many combinations to add miles too!
02/03/2009Coming down the horned lizard
02/03/2009Parking on Corte Romero
02/03/2009Sitio Salvia Entrance
02/03/2009Climbing up the switchbacks
02/03/2009Intersection of Mule Deer and Switchbacks
02/03/2009Twisty fun singletrack
02/03/2009Water tank up top
02/03/2009Intersection to Denning Road
02/03/2009Steep trail down to Denning Road
02/03/2009Denning Road Connector
02/03/2009Near Mountain Top Viewpoint
02/03/2009Down Horned Lizard
02/03/2009Take your pick
02/03/2009La Costa Trail Map at trailheadPrint Trail Map (.pdf)
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