Mission Trails Regional Park offers many trails with many levels ease or difficulty. This trail begins on a fire road and within a mile turns to single track that continuously meanders up a canyon that eventually ends forcing you up on a mesa. A quick transverse across the mesa to the west drops you off into a parallel canyon that returns you back to your origin. Begin at the trail just northeast of the dam that leads to the "grasslands". The trail immediately crosses the San Diego River (more like a small stream) and proceeds north. Follow this fire road north underneath the highway 52 overpass (a 60-100 ft tall bridge) and continue north up the canyon on the single track until a steep climb at the end places you on a mesa with a wide fire road. Follow the wide fire road on the top of the mesa to the west always hugging the left side. There are a couple of short, steep climbs. After about 3/8 mile you will encounter a fork. Go left and begin descending. Within a couple hundred feet there will be a trail that quickly turns to the right and down a very short hike-a-bike section. Follow this to some very sweet, fast single track once you reach the bottom of the canyon. Take the single track about 3.5 miles just past the same highway (but different overpass) until you reach a steep climb to the east (this is just past a steep climb to the west.) As soon as you pass the highway the single track will turn to fire road. Take the east fire road up the steep hill. Near the top of the hill another single track will continue up the short remaining part of the hill and down the other side back onto more fire road. Continue following the fire road up another small hill and then down another two-mile stretch back to the starting point. The total distance should be about 11 miles. Plan on 1.5 hours if you keep a quick, steady pace.
How to get there:
Mission Trails Regional Park is located just off Mission Gorge Road in San Diego. The trail head is located just north of the Padre Dam parking area and heads north. Park just next to the trail entrance or in any designated parking area.
This trail is great for all levels of riders as the further you go, the more difficult it becomes.