Chula Vista Canyon Trails


Land Manager:  City of Chula Vista


For many years, the San Diego Mountain Biking Association, along with other concerned Chula Vista trail users and local advocates, have attempted to communicate the willingness to provide volunteer help on the trails in the local canyons. For over three decades, local stewards have maintained the urban canyon trails by trimming and performing trail maintenance to enhance safety and sustainability of popular routes. 

Many of these “social trails” have been used regularly by hikers and mountain bikes for decades.  Local community members, including groups like the Bonita Bikers, using their own funding and time, have organized trash cleanups and trail maintenance efforts to create quality trail experiences.  It is the position of SDMBA and local advocates that the formalization and management of trails would allow for opportunities for more residents to get outside and become stewards.  Providing clearly designated trails can also help preserve natural resources and deter undesirable activities. 

We were encouraged when in 2021 the City of Chula Vista gathered the momentum needed to develop the Rice and Snake Canyon Loop Trail Pilot Program within the Rancho Del Rey Community. The Pilot Program now allows mountain biking on existing formalized trails located within Rice and Snake Canyons and includes identifying trail heads, staging areas, installation of trail markers, etiquette signs and fencing to protect sensitive habitat. 


2017-18: extensive communication, including trail field visits between Councilmember Mike Diaz, SDMBA staff and local advocates. Ongoing communications with Parks and Recreation staff regarding trail access opportunities and the importance of formalizing legacy trails for the benefit of the community. 

2018-19: SDMBA continues to communicate the importance of trails and offers volunteers to help trim and maintain popular routes.  These offers were not accepted by the City.  Councilmember Jill Galvez began communications with colleagues and city staff.  She spoke with the Fire Department who was in support of having volunteers help with trimming as a form of brush management. In the Fall of 2019, SDMBA staff requested a formal meeting with Parks and Rec staff and Public Works staff. 

2020-2021:  Covid slowed any progress although conversations continued to be had about planning the opening of Rice and Snake Canyon trails formally to mountain biking.  In March of 2021, SDMBA supplied a letter of support for the program which was on the City Council agenda for April. SDMBA gathered and submitted over 100  public comments at the City Council meeting in support of the Rice and Snake Canyon Loop Trail Pilot Program (presentation). 

The pilot program began on July 1, 2021.  The City of Chula Vista brought on new ranger staff to assist with many projects and programs including the pilot trail program.  

The city installed new trail kiosks and signage in the pilot program area.  SDMBA and local volunteers from Chula Vista MTB and 619MTB assisted with trimming, tread work, erosion control in Rice and Snake Canyons.  A total of eight bridges were replaced or installed on these trails. 

The Pilot Program is also envisioned to help develop a comprehensive Trails Master Plan (TMP) for the city. The TMP will be a city-wide blueprint for how city trails will be developed and managed in the future.

2022: Trail improvements and general maintenance continues on the pilot program trails as well as education of local trail users regarding trail etiquette and general stewardship.  SDMBA organized a public meeting at the TREK store in Bonita to give updates on the pilot program. SDMBA provided and installed 2 trail bell stations on Snake Trail in order to assist with letting other trail users know when bikes were near.  Local volunteers from 619MTB help stock the bells on a regular basis. 

The City of Chula Vista Parks and Recreation Department has wanted to create an updated Trails Master Plan (last one was approved in 1996) which would seek to create a legal, multi-use trail system in the canyons that dot the area as well as planning for the continued connectivity of the Chula Vista Greenbelt, community pathways as well as connections along the Bay Shore Bikeway, in the Otay Valley Regional Park and more. Grant funds have been applied for by the City of Chula Vista and SDMBA supplied an enthusiastic letter of support.

2023:  SDMBA and local advocates such as Chula Vista MTB and 619MTB continue to provide stewardship on these trails.  Advocacy continues with the City staff to encourage the expansion of the pilot program to other legacy trails in the area.