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Updated: Wilder Ranch (Enchanted Loop via Wild Boar Trail)
May 22, 2022

The ride update I'm posting today is another one that carries more importance than its scale would suggest. Wilder Ranch is easily on my list of all time favorite ride locations and the ride that's receiving this update today is my favorite route here. I'm under the impression that many others share these sentiments too. In mid-2019, a new stretch of singletrack was opened to the public at Wilder. Taking on both the name and the role of the lower reaches of Engelsmans Loop Trail, this new trail has changed a part of the park's trail network that the majority of bikers use for accessing the rest of the park. I hadn't reflected this change on my site yet. Today's update takes care of that. Along with this, though, I have also added Cowboy Loop into this ride's route with this change. This effectively makes this route "the whole enchilada" ride for me at Wilder. That's not because it covers all the trails in the park, but it does cover nearly all the singletrack that allows bikes and includes all of my favorite stretches. Of course, a bonus of the addition of both the new singletrack stretch on Engelsmans Loop and the inclusion of the singletrack Cowboy Loop Trail is that the ride's singletrack trail percentage has also been boosted from an already admirable 64% to an even more impressive 72% now. So, who says everything always keeps getting worse!

New ride: King Ridge Loop
May 5, 2022

The description text of the ride I've added to the site today is very likely to be the longest description to date of any ride on the site. Not only that, but I think the photo set of the ride is also the largest one, with 129 shots. As you might expect based on these, this one is a pretty long ride. But I think the bigger part of the reason for this is that this ride is a pretty big deal.

I've been familiar with this ride route for years and have been intimidated by the prospect of trying it for just as long. I had long felt that it has that combination of being a physically challenging route and being remote that means you'd better be sure you're really ready for it before taking it on. I'm not sure if I was in exceptionally good shape when I tried the ride, but I didn't think it was crazily tough in the end. The bigger deal for me by the time I tried the ride was its fame, which I came to realize more and more as I came closer to actually doing it. If you research the ride, it won't take long before you find accounts of this ride route loaded with superlatives. I'll let you see the details of that in my ride description. Suffice it to say that this is a ride that I feel I should have tried years earlier. I'm still glad that I haven't taken even longer than I have for trying it myself and posting it here.

Updated: Calero County Park
March 18, 2022

Today, I have a change that's relatively small in scope but probably pretty big in usefulness. I've fixed a couple of minor things about the Calero ride(s) on the site. The photos I used to show for the short (main) version of the ride until today were from a late summer ride that showed the landscape in its "yellowed" state. These are now replaced with a new set of images from a spring ride that shows everything nice and green. At the same time, the extended alternate version of the ride used to show a traversal of the big loop of the route in the opposite direction of the current pandemic one-way rule. That too is now fixed and both the basic and the extended versions of the ride are now in compliance with the pandemic one-way rule. Of course, the photo set of the alternate version of the ride is also updated to show things in the direction in which you'll be seeing them in the big loop, though I haven't done this using a separate unique photo set; I simply used the photos from the short ride to patch together the images for the extended one.

The reason I find this to be a change with potentially a big usefulness is because Calero has recently been enjoying quite a bit of popularity and it has certainly earned a place of honor on my shortlist of places to ride when there are inexperienced riders joining the group. Showing the ride with more appealing imagery and reflecting all of its information in the correct direction could only help in promoting its beauty and in reducing any potential mistakes.

New ride: Lassen National Park
March 6, 2022

Here is one of the rides in my backlog that have been exciting me the most as an addition to the site. It's not a local ride for Bay Area residents, unfortunately, so it goes into the Out-of-Area Rides section. Considering how few road rides are in my Out-of-Area Rides list at the moment, it might also be a bit unusual that this ride that impressed me so much is a pure road ride. This may become less surprising when you take into account the fact that the ride is in one of the most interesting parks in California and, just like it would be for a place like Yosemite, this is a destination that's very interesting and rewarding to visit even if there were no bike ride in the equation. Lassen is no Yosemite, but it's still a gorgeous park that many other states or even countries would give a lot to have in their national park system. Naturally, seeing the place from a bike saddle rather than through the window of a car makes the experience that much more immediate and intense. There are very few rides in my list of Out-of-Area Rides for which I would entertain thoughts of repeating in the near future, and this is easily one of them. That says a lot.

New ride: Jack London Park
January 30, 2022

I think an explanation is overdue as to why I've stopped doing work on the website for so long. (Way overdue.) Actually, the few folks who leave comments may have observed that I still post a response fairly quickly, where a response is due. But I haven't posted any new rides or ride updates in 10 months. The mundane truth is that there's not one critical factor that caused this. It's been a bit of an accidental confluence of a number of minor changes, ranging from a new hobby or two that started vying for my available leisure time, to (oddly enough) even a bit of writer's block that may have served as the initial trigger for it all, resulting in a little loss of habit in the end. The fact is that I've been riding as much as I ever have, if not more, and my commitment to the site or my pace of generating new content for it hasn't changed by much. I still have plenty of new content waiting to make it onto the site (some of which I'm pretty excited about) and I intend get back into a steady pace of posting again, even if things may never again move as rapidly as posting multiple updates per month like I once did. So stay tuned.

As for the actual ride I've added to the site today to kick things off again, this is one that I had long neglected due to low expectations. As the 67% singletrack mileage percentage of the ride may hint at, I was quite a bit surprised when I tried this ride in the end. I can't say this park could be considered in the same breath as places like Annadel or Skyline Wilderness yet, but it's at least good enough to deserve being on most riders' lists.

Updated: Garin and Dry Creek
March 25, 2021

I've added a roughly four-mile out-and-back extension on Whipsnake Trail to the route of this ride. This trail was an option I noticed only after the first time I tried riding at Garin and not reflecting this decent option on this ride route when I originally posted it had been bugging me ever since. This addition also results in a ride that's a touch longer, making it more likely to be substantial enough to satisfy those with intermediate mileage appetites. The other thing that had been bugging me about this ride was the original photos that reflected the landscape in its less attractive, straw-colored state. Thankfully, it was in the green part of spring that I caught a chance to redo the ride, so the photos look better too now. This locale still isn't on my short list exactly, but give it another look if you had already checked it out once and hadn't liked what you saw.

New ride: Fernandez Ranch
March 7, 2021

The new ride I'm adding to the site today arises directly from a viewer suggestion. The story of Fernandez Ranch as a public park doesn't go too far back to begin with. The purchase date of the initial land is given as 2005. That first incarnation of the park with only 3.5 miles of trails was apparently opened to the public in 2010. When Fernandez Ranch first came to my attention, which seems like it was around April 2017, the park's official trail map still showed nothing more than those initial 3.5 miles of trails, which understandably led me to file this place in my mind far away from any biking attention. However, the purchase of a "Franklin Canyon" property that grew the park's size by nearly 70% was completed as early as 2010 and opened to the public around June 2017. It looks like the next time I downloaded a copy of this park's trail map was some time in 2018, where the additional trails in the park's new section are represented. If that's actually the date on which I saw that newer map, I must have either not paid enough attention at the time or not realized that quite a bit of those newer trails are decent singletrack, because I didn't wake up to the viability of Fernandez Ranch as a mountain biking locale until a viewer suggested it to me last year.

Today, Fernandez Ranch still has only about 7.5 miles of trails by my count. That's not a whole lot, but you can manage to put together a satisfactory ride here if you're willing to repeat a few of the nicer segments. Connecting it to additional trail mileage elsewhere is a trickier proposition. That's a realistic option mainly for those who hold an EBMUD trail use permit. Fernandez Ranch is actually very close to Crockett Hills, and its character has a lot in common with it too. But, connecting the two on a bike doesn't look easy from what I can see. I cover all of these in more detail in my ride text, and I'll let you pick up the rest from there. Suffice it to say that, while it's a nice option for those looking for a change, Fernandez Ranch isn't exactly a new addition to the crown jewels of our area's ride destinations just yet.

New ride: Pope Valley Loop
February 11, 2021

It's been longer than I would have liked since the last time I made an update to the site. The good news is that, even though I haven't been able to actually post any new content on the site for more than two months, I've been spending much of this time for generating new and updated content for the site's backlog at a much faster rate than usual. In other words, there's a lot more stuff to come, and I hope to take much less time than two months before I bring more new stuff to you next time.

This new ride is another road ride in the wine country. Like with so many of my road ride routes, I've taken the route from Bill Oetinger's 75 Classic Rides, Northern California book, which I greatly admire, as regular viewers of the site will already know. This particular ride is one that I think is especially easy to recommend to anyone who doesn't find this location too far. This is due to the ride's success in staying away from busy traffic and its limited amount of steep climbs. The one caveat that I attach to this ride option is the fact that you'll need to traverse a road that's closed to cars, though a backup routing option is available. I cover that in ample detail, as well as all other aspects of the ride, in the ride text.

Updated: Downieville (Suggestion 1)
December 1, 2020

I've been making refreshes to a lot of existing rides on this website over the years on a semi-regular basis, but this update is the first of its kind: it's the first time I'm doing an update to an entry in the Out-of-Area Rides listing on the site. I don't often get to do rides outside the Bay Area. So, naturally, it's even rarer that I get to repeat such a ride. But I did get to do this last year in Downieville.

The simple fact that I've repeated a ride is not enough reason to justify a website update, in most cases. But this one qualified to be a site refresh because I tried a slightly different route. Since the time I originally posted this ride, a major singletrack segment has been built near the beginning of the route to bypass the initial, dirt-road portion of Butcher Ranch Trail. On this ride I tried this new trail that appears to have become the preferred routing for this ride now, though the information I see online seems to imply that the Downieville Downhill race course has still been following the old dirt-road option as recently as 2019. In addition to that, I also opted to try the Pack Saddle Loop Trail option this time, right at the beginning of the ride, which is another new trail segment for me and bypasses a short, initial portion of Sunrise Trail.

Along with those routing changes, I've used this opportunity to refresh the entire photo set of the ride as well, so that the images are fresher. The singletrack trail mileage percentage has also been boosted a bit due to following the singletrack routing of Butcher Ranch Trail instead of its fire-road segment. But, possibly the most noticeable incidental change in the ride information with this refresh is that the total elevation gain figure has effectively been halved! I am more careful these days in my effort to remove measurement errors from elevation gain estimates and my older GPS may have been less accurate as well. But even with those two factors put together, this level of difference may seem hard to explain. I think the actual explanation lies in the fact that rides like this one with long flat or nearly flat stretches are especially prone to elevation gain overestimation, and the fact that I used to apply no correction to the raw measurements of my device in the past but I do now.

New ride: Lone Tree Road
September 20, 2020

This new road ride is one of those options that one might not get to discover on one's own over the course of an entire lifetime. I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have known about it either if it weren't for ride information listed online. The ride's location isn't one that's likely to be convenient to the larger part of the Bay Area population. But, this kind of a ride option is of a rare breed that would fit the bill when you want to have the road (and seemingly the landscape as a whole) almost entirely to yourself. It's not a ride that's long enough to allow you to sustain that sensation for too many hours, but that also means that it will be suitable if you happen to be doing the ride at a time when you're a bit out of shape, or if you're accompanied by someone else who is.

The ride does come with some significant caveats, but I'll let you discover those in my text on the ride page.

Updated: Annadel (Suggestion 1)
August 22, 2020

This week, the wildfire smoke choking the Bay Area may be further spoiling a lot of our ride opportunities that had already been curtailed in recent months due to the COVID-19 shutdown, but at least I can get some kind of vicarious biking satisfaction from working on posting new content to my website, and that's just what I've done today.

At its core, this is a photo set update. The photos of this Annadel ride originally had been taken at the height of summer, with most vegetation in its less flattering straw color. Beyond that aesthetic concern, however, this was also my first ride at Annadel since the Nuns Fire of 2017 (CAL FIRE link). I was curious to see if it had caused any significant changes to the park's trail network and the sensation of riding there. Thankfully, by the time of my early 2020 ride, the trail network was fully back in use with few, if any, changes and the signs of the fire were quite subdued.

With this update, though, the ride ended up receiving quite a few more tweaks than just a new set of photos. The ride time and the physical difficulty rating have been nudged downward a tick, the total climb statistic has had a great chunk lopped off (rides like this with lots of flat segments lead to a lot of overestimate in elevation gain, and I trust my equipment a lot less these days), and even the text of the ride got some refreshes and additions. The substance of the ride and my impressions of it have had no significant change, though. The route is also essentially the same, with the exception of a half-mile segment on South Burma Trail that's been re-routed since my original posting.

Updated: Mount Tam (Eldridge Grade and Lagunitas - Rock Spring Road)
July 26, 2020

I have an update for one of the most neglected ride listings on this site today. This is not my favorite ride option on Mount Tam, and that's been showing until now in the fact that this ride was one of the last two or three listings here that had never been touched since the first day the site was launched. It had slim text, just a handful of pictures that were taken only incidentally, and no geotagged photo map. So, it was one of the oldest ride options listed on the site along with being one of those with the weakest ride content. With this update, all of this is fixed. The ride itself hasn't received any substantial change, though I did tweak the trail type breakdown a bit and adjust the ratings according to my current opinion, as well as lowering the total elevation gain estimate by 200 feet and the ride duration by one hour. If this was an option to which you hadn't paid much attention until now, I couldn't blame you. But you'll have a little less of an excuse from now on.

New ride: Coleman Valley Loop
June 7, 2020

One of my favorite types of road rides are long loops in the coastal countryside of Marin and Sonoma counties, especially if they also include a visit of the coast and preferably done in the greenery of spring. This new ride falls into this category. Coleman Valley Road is intended to be the highlight of the route. Although it still is, I found Coleman Valley Road itself a bit less thrilling than I expected. I think what I was picturing in my mind was something like a 20-minute descent snaking down grassy, bare hillsides with the view of the ocean in front of me the whole time. There's plenty of snaking across bare, grassy hills alright, but the views of the ocean don't present themselves in any high quantity until the last part of your descent toward the coast. That and the several tough climbs that need to be confronted in order to complete the ride the way I've done it have spoiled the magic of my expectations a little bit. Still, this is a very worthy inclusion to the list of blissful cycling backroads in our area, traversing a gorgeous landscape.

New ride: Moore Creek Park
May 10, 2020

This new ride is of a type that's increasingly a rarity for this website, which is a brand new ride with a respectable amount of singletrack mileage of a kind that seasoned riders could appreciate and that's not in the Out-of-Area Rides listing on the site. The reason this is a rarity is that I've had well over a decade to find, try out, and post about pretty much all such ride options in the Bay Area already. So, rides that fit this description but have escaped my attention (or interest) for all this time are a nearly (if not fully) depleted set and any options that would qualify these days are likely to be so because they were built recently. Moore Creek Park is most likely to be in this category for that same reason. I can't find too much explicit information about the background of the trails in this park. I expect most of the fire roads here to be pretty old. But I see some mentions on MTBR that seem to imply that the singletrack trails in the park, which are really what makes this trail network worthwhile for mountain biking, were much more recently introduced. Most mentions that look introductory date to no more than five years ago, and there's one thread from 2017 seemingly talking about Valentine Vista Trail as a relatively recent one. Also, Old Man's Beard Trail as well as the (still incomplete?) Madrone Loop Trail, which appear on the park's current official map (dated 2018), are missing in my earlier copy of the same map dating from 2015.

I wasn't ahead of the curve in my discovery of Moore Creek Park, but I'm glad I haven't wasted any more time in paying attention to it. These new trails, all of which qualify as fun and very bikeable singletrack, make this park a serious option for the consideration of any riders in this particular area. One might say that this trail network is still a little short on total mileage and isn't yet the most convenient in terms of routing possibilities for bikes. So, I'm not sure I'd ride here in the future as routinely as I might in Annadel, for instance, but I would certainly rank Moore Creek Park highly on my list of options if I'm brought to this area by some other excuse.

10 years
May 9, 2020

Passed a somewhat notable personal milestone recently. May 5th was the 10th anniversary of this website. I had intended to make this posting on the actual day, but some temporary frantic burst in my full-time job made me miss the date. Happy birthday, Bay Area Rides! Yaay!

Some pages of the site were already accessible online in the weeks leading up to May 5th 2010, actually, as I was trying to complete putting together the initial content. May 5th happens to be the date that I completed that work. On the following day, I told a few friends about it and posted a thread on MTBR to announce it, which I consider to be the site's "official launch".

It's fun and also a little bit rewarding to look back all the way to the beginning of the website for a moment. As far as I can tell, I started out with 68 ride listings originally. Not bad for a brand-new ride-guide site that's a one-man project, perhaps, but that number is 193 today even without counting most of the "alternate" versions shown for some rides. Looking at the Wayback Machine, the earliest archived copy of my site dates from February 2011. It's interesting to look through it and see the older style of the site (I have local backups dating from the same period too, but they're harder to browse): the text is much slimmer for most rides, the photo selection similarly so for many, and some features are altogether absent, such as geotagged photo maps, trail type breakdowns, and the Out-of-Area Rides category. (If you do check out the archived copy of the site, keep in mind that the interactive map on most archived pages doesn't work at all or doesn't work well when it does, like not showing any ride markers.)

It might also be interesting to some to find out through the Wayback Machine that the "bayarearides.com" domain name was used by a motorcycle enthusiast website a few years before I put together my site. I had originally found out about this the same way myself.

In any case, onward to the next 10 years!

New ride: Corral Trail
April 19, 2020

It feels a bit sobering to me to notice that the last time I posted a new ride in the Out-of-Area Rides section of this website was more than a year and a half ago. That wasn't because I was doing nothing all this time in terms of riding outside the Bay Area. In fact, the new ride I'm adding to that list today has been languishing in my backlog for the site since late 2018. And perhaps the even better news is that I have one more distant ride location to be posted on the site still in the pipeline as I write this. In other words, expect the next update to the out-of-area rides to come much sooner than another year and a half.

My impression has always been that, if you ask an avid and well traveled mountain biker in Northern California about the most notable trails in the Tahoe area, Corral Trail would be among the first burst of options that would come out of his or her mouth. Until I did this ride, this trail had been the last option that I would expect to find in this short list that I hadn't personally tried. I was, therefore, really satisfied for having finally tried it. At the same time, however, this ride option is one that leaves me unsatisfied in a different way. The ride I'm posting today is only nine miles in length and hardly constitutes enough of an excuse to drive there all the way from the Bay Area. Some bad luck with wildfire smoke conditions in the area prevented me from repeating the loop or extending the ride on that particular day. In fact, my original plan was to do a 16-mile version this route. (See the ride text for more details.) Still, I hope my brief account of these popular trails as well as my photos might prove useful to some riders out there who are interesting in trying them, even if it's not going to be in the form of this very modest route.

New ride: Calero County Park (Alternate route)
March 24, 2020

I must admit that I feel a bit sheepish for having probably my longest pause so far in updates to my website, right after stating an intent in my preceding update entry that more new content would follow soon. Of course, there's also the apparent strangeness of coming back with new updates for a mountain biking website at a time when the entire country is effectively shutting down in an effort to contain the COVID-19 virus outbreak, which also means that most of us won't have the opportunity for a while to sample new ride options spread out across the Bay Area, if we are to comply with the spirit of the current expectations of self-isolation and social distancing. Still, these don't change the fact that I still have a sizeable backlog of updates and new content for the site yet to be made available and, even if I can't keep trying out any new ride options or revisiting some old favorites for a while, I could at least put in the effort to post the new content that's already waiting in the list. In fact, over the course of this shelter-in-place period, I might even have more time to do so than usual.

In case anyone feels curious about the reason behind this most recent hiatus, it wasn't due to any single, game-changing factor. It started with the extra time I needed to devote to the detailed planning of a major trip I took around the New Year's time frame, followed by the time I then needed to put into organizing the thousands of photos I took during that trip. (The trip wasn't related to mountain biking, unfortunately.) A few unrelated minor factors then piled up on top of this, like a temporary change in the work tempo at the office, some time I had to put into a PC upgrade (I use a desktop and assemble my own), as well as the time taken by one more trip that entered the picture before all of these were over. At this point, I no longer make any promises that I will resume updates to the site at the same rate as that of the past few years. So, don't expect a new update on this page every two or three weeks anymore. However, I do still expect to resume regular updates to the site at a rate that will be much higher than once every three to five months. While part of the reason for this change in pace is arising from my changing schedule, another big part of it is because ride options in our area that I haven't already represented on this side are rapidly dwindling and new biking trails aren't being added very quickly either. Therefore, absent any newly added riding opportunities, I don't expect to be able to keep finding new ride options worthy of being represented here at anything like a normal update stream speed, though refreshes to reflect minor changes to existing content is bound to keep me occupied indefinitely.

As for the new ride I'm adding today, it's actually not a new standalone entry in the ride list on the site. It's an alternate version that I'm posting only in connection to an existing ride instead. I've wanted to update the photo set for the Calero ride ever since I first posted it, because they were shot during the driest-looking part of our summer. While my new version of the ride was done mainly with this excuse in mind and in a season when the grass was green, it wasn't actually in the lushest possible state of the landscape either. What's really different about this new version of the ride, however, is the inclusion of a seven-mile out-and-back side trip connecting to Rancho Cañada del Oro park in addition to the basic Calero ride route, not to mention a reversal of the direction of the main loop in the basic route. Because this side trip multiplies the mileage and physical difficulty of the ride quite radically, I didn't want to simply replace the existing route suggestion with the new one for fear that beginner riders (who are the ones to gain the most from a decent, easy ride option like Calero) might then tend to overlook this listing because of its stats that would look much more substantial. I've, therefore, decided to represent this as an alternate version instead that's linked only from within the text of the original ride. I think this version of the ride will make Calero a much more realistic option for riders who expect a more substantial workout, while retaining the appeal of the shorter and easier Calero ride for greener riders.

Updated: Fremont Older
October 30, 2019

After another substantial pause in the update stream for my site (which was due to a list of minor distractions this time rather than any major change in my schedule), I'm starting back up again today with a minor update, but will soon be continuing with some new content that is much more interesting. Today's update is a photo set refresh, and it won't surprise regular viewers of the site to hear that it was motivated mainly by my strong preference for the green, spring scenery of our area. The thumbnail page of the original photo set for the Fremont Older ride looked like a study in brown, owing partially to the high number of underexposed images. With this update from the spring of last year, I think it now looks much more appealing.

One unintentional change that accompanies this update is to the routing of the ride. Do to a closure of one segment of Toyon Trail for trail work on the day I did the new ride, I was forced to use a fire road as a short detour around that stretch of trail. Sadly, this has reduced the singletrack mileage of the ride a little bit, though the ratio is still a very respectable one at nearly 50%.

New ride: San Juan Bautista to Elkhorn Slough
August 28, 2019

This new road ride has been waiting in the pipeline since the spring of 2018, which is a sign that I'm still a bit behind on my stream of website updates, though I have to add that I have only one other update still in the works that's been waiting that long; the rest of my upcoming updates are from much more recent months. The ride traverses a route that's been a fairly large empty region among the ride marker maps on this site as well as on my mental map of ride routes. With this ride, I've come to discover that there are actually some decent cycling roads in this area after all, and I believe I'll be coming back to ride here in the future. The fact that the ride is anchored at a cute western small town with decent food and at least one good historic highlight, as well as providing the chance to see one of our area's major wildlife destinations (Elkhorn Slough) are noteworthy perks, in my opinion.

New trail at Wilder Ranch
July 16, 2019

A new singletrack has been added to the trail network of one of my favorite ride locales (and usual haunts), Wilder Ranch, courtesy of MBOSC. This new trail replaces the remaining (roughly) one-mile fire-road portion of the initial climb into the park on Engelsmans Trail from Wilder Ranch. The result is that my favorite route in the park now starts with an essentially unbroken three-mile singletrack stretch starting just after the ranch area. It also brings the singletrack percentage of this ride route to a wonderful 70%.

While following the old fire road pretty closely, the new trail has a lot of tree cover while the old fire road had none. It also feels less strenuous, though I'm not sure the average grade is significantly different. At least the new trail doesn't have any extra-steep spots like a couple of points that used to arrive early on the fire road. All in all, this makes the early part of most of my rides at Wilder a much more pleasant affair and it's a very welcome addition.

If you enjoy riding at Wilder and haven't been there in the last couple of months, I recommend you give this new trail a try and see the huge improvement for yourself.

Santa Teresa getting tougher
July 2, 2019

Normally I don't use this page for news of trail conditions, but this particular case seemed striking enough to me to be relevant to riders of the area and worth sharing. I had observed Stile Ranch and Rocky Ridge trails in Santa Teresa become more technical over the years and I already had a mention of this in my ride text at least in reference to Stile Ranch Trail. It seems things have progressed even further. I rode in Santa Teresa last weekend and was surprised to see that the tough parts of these trails are now out-and-out double-black-diamond affairs; not for drops or exposure, but out of the sheer amount of boulders that make progress a struggle! Most of those portions were essentially a hike-a-bike for me this time. Not only that, but entirely new segments of those trails that I used to consider "smooth singletrack" have become challenging stretches in their own right now. The difference is very pronounced even in comparison with March 2018 when I had taken the new photos that I posted last November, which is what surprised me the most. Perhaps the record precipitation of last winter may have had something to do with this.

I suppose there are two ways in which this news may be relevant: (1) Riders who used to be barely able to ride these trails in earlier years and expect the trails to be the in the same state if they try them again today should be warned that things are very different and much tougher now. And (2) those who crave the gnarliest stuff may like to hear that these trails may now scratch their itch better, and they might want to set aside time to ride here more before a new round of trail work sanitizes things again.

Updated: St. Joseph's Hill
June 23, 2019

Here's a photo refresh for a second-tier ride listing. What prompted this update, as usual, was the age (about nine years) and quality of the earlier photos, as well as the fact that they were unevenly distributed. Although the trail network of this park is so small as to require plenty of improvization and repetition in order to add up to any satisfactory ride mileage (rather than having one particular route that can be recommended), I made sure when I repeated the ride that I followed exactly the route of the original ride I showed on this site so that the new photos (as well as the refreshed GPS track and its stats) could be a "drop-in replacement". As a result of this, the only change to be noticed other than the new photos and refreshed maps is the 100 feet that I shaved off the total climb statistic—I tend to trust that the GPS unit I currently use must be a little more accurate than the one I had nine years ago.

Updated: Route 9
June 12, 2019

This one is truly a "quickie" update. It's essentially just a refresh of this ride's photos, though I did also add a little bit of text and refresh the GPS track with a newer one because it's a bit smoother and marginally more accurate. For the photos, what prompted the update was the fact that (1) several of the older images were taken while in motion and, therefore, had significant blurring, and that (2) a few photos showed temporary road conditions like construction and temporary one-lane use that have been gone for years but were annoyingly immortalized because they were caught in my shots. This newer and "purer" photo set might be of a tiny little bit more help, and so might the couple of paragraphs I added to the ride text about extension options and pavement quality.

New ride: Oats Peak Trail
June 2, 2019

This new out-of-area ride is in a location that I normally consider outside the range I think of as typical for a day trip aimed at trying a new ride. In this case, though, I simply had to satisfy my curiosity after seeing a recommendation for this ride coming from none other than the venerable Hans Rey. The ride is fun, pretty, and it involves no pain. It didn't disappoint. The only thing is that, at only 10 miles in length, its not long enough for what I would normally consider to be worth the road trip all the way from the Bay Area. So, my recommendation for this ride is mainly to those who'd be interested in it out of curiosity more than anything else. On the other hand, if you can spare the time and energy, this isn't a hard ride to repeat twice, bringing your total mileage to 20.

New ride: Coyote Creek Loop
May 16, 2019

It's probably more than a little ironic that possibly the longest pause in my update stream to this website has happened right after an update notice where I was expressing hope to speed up updates. What's perhaps even more odd is that there wasn't any single game-changing factor that was behind this pause. There were a couple of big trips in the mix (along with the time taken up by the planning of at least one of those) in addition to some changes in my typical schedule at the office, as well as a heaping dose of procrastination and a little bit of my own version of a writer's block. The good news is that there has been no fundamental change in my commitment to the website or in the availability of new material for it. So, if the past few months led any regular viewers to worry that the site might be turning dormant, (first of all, I apologize for that, and) they can rest assured that that's not even close to be being true. I'm still sitting on a growing backlog of more than 10 new updates to the site (a mix of new rides and updates to existing ones) and I intend to speed the flow back up.

This particular new ride is a road route that I don't expect anyone but the locals of the immediate area to be familiar with. As a rider who's sensitive to limiting my exposure to vehicle traffic when doing road rides, I find this one to be a more valuable ride option than average. Given its length and location, the ride does a surprisingly good job of minimizing interaction with busy traffic. It's also a rare kind of route that bridges the worlds of paved-suburban-bike-path riding and true country backroad riding in one manageable ride. It's a bonus that the ride features only one tough climb (which can be avoided if you have to) though it includes a few other climbs whose difficulty falls more into the "reasonable" category.

Updated: Water Dog (Suggestion 1)
January 24, 2019

Things have gotten pretty slow for me lately in terms of updating the website. This was mostly due to some travel, as it usually is, and there are still a few more slow weeks to come. But, in the meantime, I've been able to put together at least one minor update. I hope to get things slowly rolling again with this one, because I'm sitting on a sizeable pile of ride updates and new rides.

This one is a simple photo set update. The pictures for this ride were among some of the oldest on the website and some of the spots highlighted in these old photos had undergone significant change since they were taken. While that's not always enough to prompt me to take a new set of photos of a ride, this ride happens to be very conveniently located for me to do it as a pre-work morning ride, so it was easy for me to catch an opportunity to do so. The new GPS track recorded on this newer ride also resulted in a half-mile reduction in the listed length of the ride and a 300-foot reduction in total elevation gain. At least some of that must have been due to the fact that I took fewer wrong turns on the new ride (which I sometimes don't edit out of the GPS track) rather than simply being due to measurement fluctuation.

While some spots on the trails of Water Dog Lake Park have somewhat changed character over the years, much of that change has thankfully been only cosmetic. The trails in this little bundle of technical riding joy have been remarkably unchanging over more than a decade, in my experience. While this does mean that not a lot of new trails are getting added (with Water Dog Lake Loop Trail being the only exception), none of the existing gems have been lost or dumbed down either. I find this very refreshing. So, if you haven't tried this little jewel of the Peninsula yet, let this be an extra reminder for you to do so at the first opportunity.

Updated: Demo Forest (Braille Trail)
December 9, 2018

This ride has maintained the top position on this site in terms of popularity at various times in the past and is still one of the most visited pages here. The last time its content received a refresh was seven years ago. Today, it gets another one. The changes reflected in the brand new photo set may not be noticeable to all but the most careful observers, but at least many of the new images are of a higher quality than the ones they replaced.

The GPS track is also a new one. The route has no major changes, but a few smaller ones had accumulated over the years. These are not noticeable unless you put the old and the new tracks on top of each other to compare, but the connection to Hihn's Mill Road at the bottom of Braille Trail, a short section at the junction of Sulphur Springs Road and Ridge Trail, as well a spot where Ridge Trail used to have a short, steep stretch have all received minor re-routes. The new GPS track also shaved off half a mile from the ride's length (due to a small change that results in a rounding down instead of rounding up) and 150 feet off the total climb figure. But perhaps the most noticeable change to many viewers may be the fact that I shaved a point off the ride's technical difficulty rating. It simply doesn't warrant a 9 out of 10 score from my current perspective, so I turned it down to an 8.

Updated: Santa Teresa (Suggestion 2)
November 24, 2018

This update is straight-up a photo set replacement. The photos of this ride have essentially gone from "brown" to "green" with this refresh. Regular viewers of this site may be familiar with my fondness for the few months of the year when the grass is green in our area. The original photos for this ride were from the height of the dry season and the dominant color of the thumbnail page really was brown (with some help from the uncorrected underexposure in many shots). The new images look like they are from a different continent. This ride ranks very highly among my favorites in the South Bay, and it pleases me to think that the nicer new photos may raise the ride's appeal to a level closer to the attraction it holds for me.

Other than the images, the only thing that's different is a few minor tweaks to the basic stats of the ride, most notable of which is a 200-foot reduction in the total climb figure.

New ride: Tesla and Patterson Pass Roads
November 14, 2018

This new road ride that's been in the pipeline since last spring provides a nice sampling of peaceful backcountry roads east of the bay, including a climb of Patterson Pass that most local riders are likely to consider the "right direction" in which to do it. The route is an easy one to recommend, especially in the cool air and the green grass of spring, though the ride is a little short of perfection. I describe in the text how one stretch of Tesla Road feels uncomfortable due to fast traffic and the few flat Central Valley roads the loop uses as a connection are, as you might expect, less than fun. Still, I believe that this is a ride that those who are looking to try something a little different won't regret.

Updated: Skeggs Point (Suggestion 3)
October 4, 2018

This is a photo set update. You might remember me writing that I can't promise to refresh the photo set of each ride whose photos got old. With Skeggs, though, it's a bit easier for me to make time for it because it's among my usual haunts, so it's not tricky to follow the route of one of my posted rides to take a new set of photos on one of my frequent rides there. Plus, in addition to being old (up to seven years), this ride's preceding photo set was cobbled together from multiple rides and some of the photos were of low quality (e.g., being blurry due to being taken while I was in motion, which is something I used to do but that I don't anymore).

I've also replaced the GPS data along with the photos, though, because otherwise the image markers don't fit the plotted ride route perfectly on the geotagged photo map. This resulted in a couple of small tweaks to the ride stats. The length went up by half a mile and the total climb by 100 feet.

New ride: Calero County Park
September 3, 2018

One of the newest ride options made available in our area is a treat for inexperienced riders (or for seasoned riders looking for a light option). The route of this ride was opened to the public only in March 2018. Calero County Park, which originally had no trails on which bikes were allowed, had first dipped its foot into mountain biking by making a short stretch of Longwall Canyon Trail in the southern extreme of the park open to bikes fairly recently to serve as a useful connection option for riders using Rancho Cañada del Oro Open Space. This year, the park has gone way beyond that by opening all the trail mileage of this new ride to bikes, along with another 3.5-mile stretch that I didn't include on this ride. And these aren't merely the result of new access rules on old trails. Almost all of these are newly built trails. At the moment, all of these trails have super smooth surfaces, which should make them that much more attractive to inexperienced riders, offering them a great and easy way to approximate mountain biking on a hillside singletrack. The fact that the land is beautiful and that nice views are available from many spots is a bonus.

New ride: Del Puerto Canyon Road
August 12, 2018

It's time to add a new entry to the Out-of-Area Rides list. Road rides are currently an under-represented subset among this group. This new ride is a new member of that small subset. The ride is a good example for me of the benefit of ride information available online. If I hadn't read about this ride on "Jay's Essential Bike Rides", I have no reason to doubt that I may have lived an entire lifetime in the Bay Area without ever knowing about this road as a ride route. I'm glad that hasn't happened, because this ride has exceeded even the expectations that Jay's great description had established. If you think this feels out-of-the-way, it's not as much as you'd expect. For many of us, it doesn't take any longer to get to Patterson than it might to other locations that one might consider more "local", such as Point Reyes or Monterey. So, for those who are already okay with the concept of driving to various Bay Area locations to try out ride routes, this one is a strong recommendation especially in the spring.

New ride: Pipeline Trail
July 18, 2018

It might come as a surprise that there's a substantial, bike-legal, technical, singletrack descent available at a Bay Area ride locale that not only had I not added to this site until now, but that I hadn't even tried myself until recently. I'm not proud of it. Pipeline Trail in Toro County Park near Salinas is that trail, and it's the last such example among currently available trails as far as I know. I have mostly excuses for not having tried this ride any sooner, but no reason that's really good: It's a bit of a drive to get there, which made it less suitable for most of my riding partners; it's a fairly short ride after that whole drive; I knew that the climbs would be a pain; and I wasn't even sure of the completion status of the trail over its first couple of years of existence. In the end, I would regret this more if the difficulty level of the trail weren't also a notch or two above my comfort limit. So, its enjoyment to the fullest extent possible may be a bit beyond me, but I appreciate it nonetheless. This one is for seasoned riders without a doubt.

New ride: Henry Coe (Domino Pond and Grapevine Trails)
July 5, 2018

Here's one more Henry Coe ride option, also following a route suggested to me by Paul Nam. This one is aimed mainly at sampling a number of singletrack trails in the park that are relatively less traveled, at least in my mind, though the partially grassy trail surfaces on some of these seemed to corroborate this at the time of my ride. These singletrack trails, chained together, constitute an unbroken five-mile segment of this ride, consisting mostly of descents. The ride also provides decent views from its higher elevations, including a sighting of Lick Observatory on Mount Hamilton and distant views of the snowy peaks of the Sierra Nevada range. The down side to all this is the difficult and long climb you'll need to get out of the way to get there, in addition to some extra miles you'll need to "commute" from the Hunting Hollow parking lot that feel more like a chore.

Updated: Big Basin
May 24, 2018

I've refreshed another one of the rides on the site that had weak content until now. The Big Basin listing has been on the site since its first day, and it had been untouched for just as long. Admittedly, this is not a ride that holds a lot of appeal from a pure mountain biking standpoint. However, for anyone who thinks of biking partially as exploration and sightseeing, and who loves our majestic redwoods, this ride could still count as a real treat. The new content I've just made available should go a lot further toward reflecting what one might expect from this ride. The text has been greatly expanded and a full photo set has been added.

New ride: Patterson and Altamont Passes
April 29, 2018

A new road ride joins the listings on the site today. This is probably a ride that I should have tried and posted much earlier. I'm not sure if it's because its appeal is mostly for the locals that this ride hasn't entered my radar screen any sooner, but this is a wonderful route. Its use as the course of a regularly held road race could only be considered as further proof of this. You tackle one tough and locally well known climb along the way, and you traverse a landscape that can look almost idealized at the right time of the year. Depending on your perspective, you can say there are one or two other significant climbs along the way too. A little extra care in picking your ride time may be warranted for the sake of traffic safety and in picking your ride date for the sake of sane temperatures and of the optimum beauty of the scenery, but I would otherwise recommend this ride to any road rider who likes trying new routes.

Updated: Skeggs Point (Suggestion 2)
April 10, 2018

I've given this ride a photo-set refresh. The older photos of the ride weren't incomplete, but they were getting old and had more quality problems (like too many blurry shots) than my more recent sets. But what really prompted me to redo them was the work that Blue Blossom Trail underwent a year or two ago that significantly changed the character of parts of that trail. I'm not sure it's necessarily that obvious in the newer photos how the trail has been impacted by this work, but along with the aging photos, this was enough of an excuse for me for a refresh.

Updated: Rancho Cañada del Oro
March 26, 2018

Rancho Cañada is a ride locale that has seen some significant changes in the six years or so since I've first posted it on this website. The most significant change is the opening of a segment of Longwall Canyon Trail in the neighboring Calero County Park to bike access in early 2014, making it much easier to reach (or return from) the bulk of the trail mileage in Rancho Cañada. Another change that struck me on my last ride is how the two freshly built trails that I had originally described as "half fire roads" have since transformed into reasonable "wide singletrack" trails with use and growing vegetation. I've now updated this listing to use a route that utilizes the new trail connection on the way back, thereby resulting in a route that's 1 mile shorter and, more importantly, has 450 feet less total elevation gain. The proportion of the ride's mileage that I deem "singletrack" has gone from 0% to 37%. It also doesn't hurt that the new photo set for the updated ride reflects a spring season with prettier vegetation. While I'm at it, I've also included in the route a quick traversal of the short, paved loop by the parking lot.

I've retained the original version of the ride as an alternate route that's linked from the ride description page for those who'd like a stiffer workout, or for those who may like Mayfair Ranch Trail so much that they'd rather repeat it, or for those who'd like to see the older state of the park's trails in its photo set.

Overhaul of geotagged maps completed
March 15, 2018

Today, I've converted the last few remaining rides on the site that used an external link for geotagged maps into using my own geotagged maps. That means that the replacement of all geotagged maps on the site, which I started just under 10 months ago, is now completed. This completely eliminates my site's dependency on AllTrails.com (where my older geotagged maps used to be). I'm very satisfied by this, and glad that more of my free time will now be available for fulfilling some other needs of the website.

Updated: Stevens Canyon
March 8, 2018

One of the low-key favorites of the South Bay received a low-key update today. There wasn't much that was lacking in the content of this ride. The main thing that prompted me is that the photos were old (7+ years) and a little subpar. I've mentioned here before that I can't promise to refresh all photo sets on the site that get to be seven or eight years old. In this case, however, there were a couple more factors that played into it. Some of the older wooden bridges on Stevens Canyon Road that have since been replaced were still visible in the old photos. And a couple of spots in the trail portion of the ride had seen significant changes since my last update. One of these is where you ford Stevens Creek. This crossing went from being ridable without even slowing down too much, to being followed almost by a wall scramble that's difficult to even walk up.

A few of the figures I show for the ride were also tweaked a little as a result of the new GPS data. These include one point off the ride's technical difficulty rating and, perhaps most significantly, a 150-foot reduction in its total elevation gain statistic.

New ride: Bidwell Park
February 11, 2018

The last time I added an entry to the list of out-of-area rides on this site was in August. Here's another addition to that list in order to show that I'm not completely neglecting out-of-area content.

If you don't know about Upper Bidwell Park, let this be an opportunity to fix that. Bidwell is a listing I'm used to seeing in most mountain biking ride guides that cover the northern half of California. I've also read about at least one mountain bike race and some bike vendor demo days that are hosted here. That's all for a good reason. The trail network here is technical, challenging, and sizeable. Coupled with the interesting scenery, that makes this park a very good destination for a serious weekend ride. That is, as long as you can catch a day when the temperatures are below the boiling point.

New ride: Henry Coe (Willson Peak and Middle Steer Ridge Trails)
January 14, 2018

If Skeggs Point deserves representation on this site with 6 separate ride suggestions, then—based on size alone—the enormous Henry Coe State Park should probably have about 10 (even after taking into account the fact that a big chunk of it is a wilderness area that's closed to bikes). So, I had never meant the three ride options listed here for Henry Coe until today to be adequate coverage of this park. The only reason there aren't more Henry Coe rides on this site already is that I get a chance to ride at Coe relatively rarely, due to various factors (such as distance and the big part of the year that I stay away due to ticks).

The new Henry Coe ride I've added today not only goes one step further toward giving Henry Coe the coverage it deserves on this site, but this particular route happens to be a suggestion coming straight from a person who easily qualifies as an expert in mountain biking at Henry Coe. The climbs on this ride aren't exactly easy, the descents aren't exactly mellow, and the overall ride is definitely not forgettable. I think this is a good ride to try as one's first sampling of Henry Coe. And, although it's still a challenging ride, you can do it without completely torturing yourself.

Updated: Russian Ridge
December 18, 2017

The Russian Ridge ride has just had a major refresh. I can't exactly say that this ride was slim in the content department until now. However, there were several factors that spelled a need for a refresh. First and foremost among these was the fact that ride route shown until now has not been my preferred way of traversing these trails in recent years. The new content reflects a rerouting of the ride to represent my current favorite route in this park. The photo set was also due for an update because it was a bit outdated (from 2010) and showed the straw-colored summer landscape of the park. The photo set of the updated ride is of the pretty spring greenery, which makes the park's many nice views pop that much more. Even the better quality of the camera I've used to take the newer images makes a significant difference to my eyes. The description text is also more fleshed out now. But, perhaps some riders may find the fact that the new routing takes the singletrack percentage of the ride's mileage from 50 to 68 the most worthy update of them all.

Updated: Tilden Park (into Wildcat Canyon Park)
November 26, 2017

This ride was easily one of the most neglected rides on this website until now. It's one of the listings that date back to the site's original launch and it's among the very few that had received no updates since that day. At the moment, I can find only four or five remaining ride listings that are more or less in the same boat, but only two of those have absolutely no photos and have not had even minor updates. Well, today this diminishing group of neglected rides loses one more of its members, since I've given this original Tilden Park ride a major overhaul. Like most other listings on the site, this ride features a full photo set now (in beautiful spring scenery, no less) as well as a full-blown description. The route itself, while looking the same on the map, has been reversed too.

Updated: Skeggs Point (Suggestion 1)
November 12, 2017

A major ride listing on this site has received a minor update today. I've replaced the GPS track for this ride with a new one that's slightly less glitchy, though the difference is mostly negligible. The bigger change in the ride's content is in its text. I've taken out a couple of potentially misleading passages and added considerably more detail about the character of some of the trails traversed on the ride. Along the way, perhaps more importantly for some viewers, this new GPS recording prompted me to adjust the length and total elevation gain figures for the ride slightly downward. Meanwhile, the photo set of the ride remains virtually untouched, which is somewhat unusual for most ride update entries I list on this page.

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