When I first moved to San Diego and asked people where to ride a mountain bike almost everyone said "You've got to check out Mission Trails". Mission Trails encompasses almost 6,000 acres of natural and developed recreational acres. Its rugged hills, valleys and open areas represent what San Diego used to look like. Centrally located and only 8 miles northeast of San Diego, Mission Trails provides a quick fun place to ride your mountain bike. While not stellar singletrack it is close if you are centrally located.The area is split down the middle by North and South Fortuna Mountains. Getting from one side to the other is not that easy. The north route , North Perimeter Trail, follows a fire road with many tough up and downs . The middle passage called "The Alley” or Fortuna Saddle Trail is also very steep. Your third option is the paved road, Father Junipero Serra Trail, through the middle of the park. I usually ride on the west side of the park. There are many steep climbs and a fun singletrack right through the middle of the valley called Suycott Valley Trail.I usually start at the Jackson Dr. Staging area because I live near there. I ride down the hill and across the San Diego River Crossing. I then climb the big hill/fire road, San Diego River Crossing Trail, to the twin towers. This is quite a lung burner. From here I stay up on the rim trail and drop down the north west side of the rim to the Portobelo Dr. entrance. I stay just south of 52 passed Sheppard Pond and hook up with Suycott Valley Trail. I take this back to the San Diego River Crossing Trail and then back to Jackson Dr.
Jackson Drive/Visitor Center: Take I-8 to the Mission Gorge Rd exit. Go north on Mission Gorge Rd for 4 miles. Make a left at Jackson drive and park in the dirt parking lot. If you want to park at the Mission Trails Regional Park visitor center continue to the next left on Father Junipero Serra Trail. There are big signs. Clairemont Mesa Blvd/Tierrasanta: From I-15, take the Clairemont Mesa Blvd exit and head east. Drive 2.5 miles until the road dead ends at the Tierrasanta entrance.
The San Diego river trail crossing is currently closed, as of 2/10/2009. If you want to access the park from Jackson Drive you have to go all the way around South Fortuna via Father Junipero Serra or up to Clairemont Mesa. I wonder what they are doing? Maybe putting in a bridge over the river??
It's easy to find riding for every condition and skill level here. You can ride flat trails with the family and kids, climb steep singletracks to build your legs and cardio and bounce downhill on some killer technical descents. And there's enough variety to keep it interesting. It's easy do 20+ miles if you wander up Spring Canyon as part of your run around the park. You can also access Sycamore Canyon from there.A fun loop starts at the Visitors Center, ride across the river and up the Jackson grade to Tierra Santa, north to hwy 52, east along the hwy to Suycott Wash, then over Fortuna Pass to the grasslands. From there, go north up Spring Canyon and wander up one of the singletracks to the east, over the ridge and down into Sycamore Canyon. From there, you can do the Sycamore Canyon loop and return to Mission Trails by exiting by the Santee Lakes and wander back to the visitors center via Father Junipero Serra Trail. When you're done, you'll have covered at least 28 miles, depending on the side trails you wander down.In the winter, riding is awesome with lots of stream crossings and tons of greenery. In the summer, ride early as it gets very hot, dry and dusty and there are precious few shady places.
this place is really awesome place to ride you got every thing frome easy to diffecult and on top of that its got some really nice senery and wild life out there i have lived in santee all my life and have only seen one deer and that was in a couple peices in the middle of the east bond lands on the 52 but i went on a late ride the other day out there and on my way back down the trail this big fat deer jump right out in front of me it was the coolest thing that has happend in santee ever ive also seen numers coyotes snakes and cool lookin birds
Ive ridden at MTRP a few times but today was the first time I actually did a bit of research and looked up a particular route. as a result, I took the 8 mile loop outlined on here and was certainly surprised at the quality of the trail. There are quite a few sandy, washed out and rock-riddled sections, but the pros WAY overcome the cons - can I say that 's-curve' is one of the more fun cross country sections I have ridden - nice and flowy - I was hesitant to trust the berms since it was a cross country trail but I was quite pleased with the end result. Only thing I'd caution people is that there are a few sections where a blind curve just spits you into either a) a massive prickly bush/tree or b) a rather sharp rock garden in the middle of s-curve that isn't difficult, but can be hairy if you are really gunning it through the berms. definitely my new quick twice a week. Oh, bring a map - this route was very much smoother than my other rides here because I followed a route. only half of the trails on here are really smooth - it's easy to miss them.
02/11/2009Parking area off Jackson Dr
02/11/2009South end of Suycott Trail
02/11/2009View of North Fortuna
02/11/2009The twin twin towers
02/11/2009Turn right for a fast fun singletrack
02/11/2009View looking west
02/11/2009Trail along south side of 52
02/11/2009This is where the fun starts
02/11/2009Looking back at a technical spot
02/11/2009San Diego River Crossing
02/11/2009You cross on the left of that kiosk
04/23/2009Entrance to Spring Canyon
02/11/2009Map at trailheadPrint Trail Map (.pdf)
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