Bicycling Magazine

Los Angeles, CA: New San Juan Trail 

Ready, set, climb! This 22-miler through Cleveland National Forest starts with 16 switchbacks, then nothing but ocean views and fast, winding descents.

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Author: Bicycling Magazine
Date: 17 Sep 2008 9:13:11 PM
Activity: Mountain Biking
State: California (CA)
Distance: Total: 11.07 mi
Active: 10.99 mi
  (Change units)
Survey Elevation: Total Gain: 5415 ft
Total Loss: 2873 ft
Net Change: 2542 ft
Difficulty: 8 / 10
Tags: California, Cleveland National Forest, Los Angeles, Pala
Rating:   2 rating(s) Rate it

The beginning of this 22-mile ride is all drama: 16 switchbacks in the first mile, 4,500-feet of elevation gain, and singletrack coiling through scratchy chaparral brush. The rest is all beauty and high action. At mile 11 near Blue Jay Campground, the trail unveils a scenic chunk of choppy ocean, shrub-blanketed mountains, and windswept ridges. Refill water bottles at the camp then drop 4,500 feet over nearly 10 miles on the sinewy singletrack back to your car. A favorite among SoCal downhillers, this trail is a sure bet for white knuckles and dust-covered grins.

-Mapped by Angela Wimberly

TO TRAILHEAD: From San Juan Capistrano: Take Ortega Highway/CA-74 east for 12 miles. Turn left on Camp Road at the sign for Lazy R Ranch. Continue down Camp Road for a half mile to a large dirt parking lot. There is a bathroom and picnic table, but no water. The trail is right beside the road. Please note: visitors need a Forest Service Adventure Pass to park. Please see for more info on where to purchase an Adventure Pass.

Position Format: Datum:


Distance: 11.07 mi Points: 1940
Total Time: none Speed: 0.0 mph Pace: 0:00 / mi
Active Time: none Speed: 0.0 mph Pace: 0:00 / mi
San Juan Trail

Points of Interest


Location: 33.600966, -117.510452
The ride immediately begins to climb. ©Angela Wimberly

Switchback View

Location: 33.600251, -117.505474
©Angela Wimberly

Between switchbacks

Location: 33.600108, -117.508392
The trail is fairly hard-packed and smooth between switchbacks. ©Angela Wimberly

Still Climbing

Location: 33.604254, -117.497492
©Angela Wimberly

Ortega Highway

Location: 33.614190, -117.494574
Awesome views. ©Angela Wimberly

Levelling Out

Location: 33.624125, -117.491226
©Angela Wimberly

Lunch Rock

Location: 33.624054, -117.479897
©Angela Wimberly


Location: 33.631272, -117.466636
The trail is wide enough in most spots to pick the best line. ©Angela Wimberly

Slight Descent

Location: 33.643206, -117.463331
©Angela Wimberly

Winding Singletrack

Location: 33.646993, -117.458010
©Angela Wimberly

Blue Jay Campground

Location: 33.652494, -117.449899
The Blue Jay Campground is the route's highpoint and turnaround. Refill water bottles here; enjoy the views and the long descent to the parking lot. ©Angela Wimberly

Switchback Descent

Location: 33.601681, -117.501698
©Angela Wimberly


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