Mountain Biking in San Diego: 3 Short and Sweet Trails

Do you wish you had a little more time before and/or after work to go for a ride? Currently most of my time is dedicated to school and work, so finding time to ride can be a challenge. I’ve been riding the local San Diego trails for a few  years now and have come across a few places where you can have an epic ride in a short amount of time before you have to head back to the real world. Each offers the full spectrum of technical, fast, and jumpy trails.

#1 Calavera Lake

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Lake Calavera Mountain Biking

Located near the most inland part of Carlsbad, this is my go-to spot in North County, San Diego, especially when I’m tight on time. The trails are fairly short, but you know what that means? So are the climbs! Most of the trails here are pretty flowy, but a couple semi-hidden spots offer some nice and technical rock sections. If you’re a fan of jump lines, Calavera has you covered too!

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Lake Calavera Mountain Biking

#2 Rancho La Costa Preserve

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La Costa Mountain Biking

The climb to the top is sure to get your blood pumping (rather steep at some points), but you’ll be rewarded with a great view of the ocean! Multiple trail options offer you around 6-10 minute rides to the bottom with some nice technical and rocky switchbacks. Overall, with parking right at the trail-heads, you can squeeze in a couple intense rides within an hour.

#3 Sycamore Canyon

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Sycamore Canyon Mountain Biking

This place offers a huge variety of trail styles, but If you’re short on time and a fan of technicality and big rocks than this is the place for you! On the South side of the canyon near the Calvary Chapel of Santee you’ll find a mountain covered in boulders just a few minutes of riding from where you’ll park. Go up there and you’ll be jumping on, riding over, and dropping off countless rocks.

Close by and straight across you’ll also find some smooth trails with fun wood jumps; however, go all the way down these trails and you’ll have quite the climb back to your car.



All in all, Calavera, La Costa Preserve, and Sycamore Canyon offer some quick and epic rides if you’re short on time but still need to satisfy the rider in you. I’m sure there are a lot of other spots in San Diego offering short and sweet rides. What is your go-to riding spot for a quick and epic ride?

If you want to see more pictures like the ones in this blog then feel free to checkout my Instagram

If you’re looking for more detail on trails all across Southern California, go check out Mountain Bike Bill. Here you’ll find trail descriptions, maps and trail head locations for hundreds of trails.

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