Mountain Biking in El Moro Canyon

Crystal Cove State Park Mountain Biking Trail
Moro Canyon
Today, I rode my mountain bike from Balboa Peninsula, taking the back routes through the affluent suburban neighborhoods to Coastal Peak Park. Ridge Park Road ends at the park and it’s a very daunting ride from the bottom of the hill. The park sits at one of the highest points in the area and there are some amazing overlooks along the way to take in the views, but the views wont help your legs pedal any faster. From the park, I hit the Bonner Ridge Trail, took a wrong turn and ended up on the Rattlesnake trail. The Rattlesnake trail is in horrible disrepair. Ultra-hardcore mountain bike enthusiasts might call it a “technical” route, but the reality is that the rattlesnake trail is ruined and in dire need of some serious work to make it a viable bike route. I was able to connect to a nice wide-track road in the middle of El Moro canyon and bomb almost the entire last two miles of the trail at serious breakneck speed. It was the first time that I’ve worn a helmet in all year.

At the bottom of Moro Canyon, there is a connector trail to get you back to the bike route on Pacific Coast Highway, but you have to hike your bike up another steep trail. I chose instead to ride my bike on the beach and pick up the bike trails at Crystal Cove about a half mile north. Trust me, the concrete ramp up the beach is a lot less brutal than the connector trail in Moro Canyon. It might be possible to bike Pacific Coast Highway, but I wouldn’t recommend it unless you have a death wish. The speed limit on this section of PCH is 55, but most people drive 70 and the shoulder in nonexistent.

By the time I was back at Balboa Peninsula, I had ridden a little over 18 miles. Somehow, I felt as if I was biking up hill almost the entire ride, except for the canyon itself. I definitely learned a lesson. The next time I bike Moro Canyon, I’m going to use a two car shuttle; park one car at the bottom of El Moro, and drive the bikes to Coastal Peak Park.

El Moro Canyon Trail Map

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