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Mountain Biking Spots

August 06, 1992

A. Telegraph Canyon, Chino Hills State Park

Chino Hills State Park is a big place, covering parts of four counties. Telegraph Canyon, accessible from Carbon Canyon Regional Park, is a good introduction to the pleasures of Chino Hills: a gradual climb through an oak-lined canyon, with some good ridge-running the reward at the head of the canyon. The park gets very hot in summer, though; go in early morning or stick to the coastal parks while you wait for the weather to cool.

Whereabouts: From the Orange (57) Freeway, take Lambert Road east, which turns into Carbon Canyon Road. Park in Carbon Canyon Regional Park, on the right side of the road (fee: $2; park to the east of the entrance). On your bike, follow a dirt path heading east, and stay on the path as it slants right, skirting an orange grove and climbing to a gate at the foot of Telegraph Canyon. Enter the gate and follow the trail up.

B. El Moro Canyon, Crystal Cove State Park

This is probably the most popular mountain biking spot in the county, and as such it gets rather crowded on weekends. There is a wide choice of trails, but most of them involve at least some climbing. There are some beautiful canyons here, along with some sweeping views of the Pacific, and the ocean breezes help keep the park relatively cool.

Whereabouts: Take Coast Highway south from Newport Beach (or north from Laguna Beach) and watch the signs for El Moro Canyon, on the inland side of the highway. Parking is plentiful but not cheap ($5).

C. Whiting Ranch Regional Park

This new 1,600-acre wilderness park near Trabuco Canyon has become an instant favorite among mountain bikers, offering serene flat rides beneath an oak canopy as well as some hellacious climbing and single-track rides. The park will someday link with the proposed 5,500-acre Limestone Canyon Regional Park.

Whereabouts: Take Interstate 5 to Lake Forest Drive and head north about five miles to Portola Parkway. After a left turn, the park is on the right.

D. Aliso and Wood Canyons Regional Park

Also a relatively new addition to the county park system, this park requires a ride of several miles on a flat dirt road to get to the more interesting rides within some of the canyons. Like Whiting Ranch, it has quickly become popular with mountain bikers, and its accessibility to much of south Orange County is a big plus.

Whereabouts: From Interstate 5, take Alicia Parkway south and turn right on La Paz Road. Turn right on Aliso Creek Road and then left on Alicia Parkway. Take the first right on Awma Road and park in the lot.

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