Escape the Rancho crowds by taking the highest and steepest route within park. Your climbing fitness will be put to the test as you go up steep fire roads while listening to the hum of the power lines and the wind blowing through the canyon below. The descent includes wooded singletrack dropping into the canyon where you can wave to the farm animals as you pass by.
This park is extremely popular. Early starts are a must if you want a parking spot.
There are a few ways to start this loop. This description starts you off with a flat 1 mile to get your legs warmed up for the climbs. Start from the last parking lot at the Rancho San Antonio County Park, the one with the bathrooms.
Go to the trailhead with the bridge and turn right along the dirt path. This park is very popular and you'll be making your way around and through many other visitors as you make your way down the path.
Turn left after the tennis courts and continue along the dirt path which will turn into a road for a short while as you make your way towards Deer Hollow Farm. When you pass the farm, turn left towards the pit toilets and continue for a short while until you come to a fence.
At the road intersection just before a farm, turn left onto the Farm Bypass Trail
. In a short distance you'll come to the Coyote Trail
intersection. Turn left onto the Coyote Trail
. The Coyote Trail
is fun steady climbing doubletrack in the shade of the forest. Eventually you'll make your way up to a four way split with a water tower at mile 1.7. Turn right onto the PG & E Trail.
The PG & E Trail is 100% fire road and it's where your climbing really begins. The first climbs starts steep with roots and rocks thrown in the mix. When you come to the top there is often a very muddy puddle section, so tread lightly. Beyond this, the climbing continues as you follow the power lines along the trail. There are short and fast descents only to be made up again with short, steep, climbs. Keep yours eyes on the power lines to see how much further you need to go. There are fewer people out here, and also many wildlife sightings to be had.
Finally, you'll reach the fence at mile 5.2 with great views of the Bay. This is the end of the PG & E Trail, but not the end of the climb. Go through the fence and continue onto the singletrack Quarry Trail
. The Quarry Trail
is very steep in sections and always longer than you think. Sections can be narrow, rocky, and overgrown.
At the summit, turn right and start descending on the Black Mountain Trail
, which includes fun singletrack and tight switch backs. Turn right and continue your descent on the Chamise Trail
The wooded grassy areas will eventually give way to a sunny and rocky fire road as you see the canyon in sight. Turn right to get onto the Rogue Valley Trail
, pass the pond and turn left to continue your way down the Rogue Valley Trail
fire road. You'll notice the temperature is colder down here as you gradually descend.
Wave to the pigs at the farm as you pass, and finish winding your way back to the parking lot.
There are lots of wild turkeys, quails, and bobcats to be seen.