Mission Trails has many different trail options that allow you make the ride about as long as you like. (See ride highlights below) The park is pretty much split down the middle by the North and South Fortuna Mountains. The eastern half of the park has the easier trails while the western half has most of the single track and is much more technical. Many mountain bikers simply stick to the western half of the park. They however are missing out as some really great rides that can be put together by linking both halves.
Mission Trails Regional Park encompasses nearly 5,800 acres of both natural and developed recreational acres. Its rugged hills, valleys and open areas represent a San Diego prior to the landing of Cabrillo in San Diego Bay in 1542. Mission Trails Regional Park has been called the third Jewel in the City of San Diego Park System. Along with Balboa Park and Mission Bay, it provides San Diego residents and visitors a way to explore the cultural, historical, and recreational aspects of San Diego. Started in 1974, Mission Trails Regional Park has become one of the largest urban parks in the United States. Originally used by the Kumeyaay, the park is the site of the Old Mission Dam, built to store water for the Mission San Diego de Alcala.
Mission Trails Regional Park volunteer opportunities are numerous. If you are interested in participating in any of the programs/projects listed below please contact David Lee at 619-668-3278, you may also email David at firstname.lastname@example.org or complete the on-line volunteer application.
With over 40 miles of trails, Mission Trails Regional Park offers mountain bikers variety from learning to ride, a great workout in a short period of time and a place to practice advanced skills. We've mapped out our favorite trails for beginners and routes for intermediate and advanced riders. Ride strong!
Beginners Level Trails
Anyone new to mountain biking will be happy riding the Visitors Center Loop and Oak Grove Loop. Take the Father Junipero Serra bike path east to the dam and the grasslands. Great place to teach the kids how to ride.
From downtown, park at the Visitor Center off of Mission Gorge Road or from Santee, park on Mast Blvd off of Hwy 52.
Trailmap - green trails
Intermediate Level Ride
Name: West Rim Trail Loop - Short but technical
Mileage: 7 miles round trip (10 with optional trails)
Note: Parts of this trail loop will be closed for about nine months in 2009, for aqueduct construction. Check for SD Water Authority updates.
Don't be fools by the low mileage. This loop will make you work. The dirt roads and trails are both technical because they were jeep roads that went straight up and down the hills. Great place to ride at night or after work. Avoid the hottest days of the summer. Many trails intersect but it's hard to get lost if you keep the mountains to the east. You can lengthen or shorten your ride anywhere along the loop. Before you return to your car you can add 3 miles by riding the Quarry Ridge trails to the south.
Trail map - orange trails
Full trail guide with mile marks and elevations.
Advanced Level Ride
Name: Cowles Mountain from Mesa Trail NOT TO BE MISSED
Mileage: 5.5 mile round trip (8.5 with optional trail)
This ride will test your uphill climbing skills as well as your downhill chops. This is NOT a trail for beginners or those out of shape. The ascent includes many (at least 77) waterbars you'll to get over, as well as rock gardens and 1,200 feet elevation gain. The descent is also loaded with waterbars, a few rock gardens and one nice stair step section. There's lots of switchbacks, so watch your speed. WARNING - you can do serious damage to yourself and your bike on this trail if you don't have the chops. This is probably the closest you can get to riding a Noble Canyon style trail without actually going to Noble Canyon.
Hikers use this trail as well, and most of them are cool with bikers, but watch out for the ocassional overly-friendly dog. Ride it at sunrise and you''ll probably have the whole single track section to yourself. 75 percent of the trail is single track, but the upper portion is on the fire road mentioned in the other Cowles Moountain review. Make it to the summit of Cowles, and give yourself a pat on the back. Clean the whole thing without any dabs, and you''ll be among the select few.
If you have more time and energy, check out the Pyles Peak trail option. It's three miles out-and-back and challenging. The Pyles Peak trailhead begins on the fire road just a hundred feet west of the summit marker. A sign on the left turns you down some steps.
When ready, head back down the way you came up. Be careful. The road is slippery and hikers are everywhere. If you have a bell, please use it. It will be appreciated. Return on the singletrack trails you came up on. Plenty of drops and tight switchbacks will have you whooping or cursing on the way down. Watch out of hikers! This is where a bell is particularly helpful. Return via Big Rock Trail. Plenty of stairs and drops keep it interesting right to the end.
TrailMap - red trails