When we asked some guys at the shop in LA which trails we had to check out, San Juan and the SART trails where mentioned over and over again.
The SART or Santa Ana River Trail is one of the best singletrack rides in the Big Bear area. The ride is all around fun, however there is a fair amount of exposure so ride within your limits, beginner riders may find SART a bit too challenging or may be off the bike several times to hike over some stuff. More experienced riders will enjoy the challenges and have fun ripping the downhill, navigating the switchbacks, swooping through the berms, and hitting the tabletop kickers.
This ride can be done as shuttle, a loop or an out and back. We ride a lot and are generally not bothered by climbs so we didn't feel the need for a shuttle for this one.
This trail is nothing short of epic. It starts with a mild climb, runs long and smooth down the valley, becomes a short fire road climb, a long former fire-road descent, then a tough 1000' singletrack climb - which includes some extreme exposures - then, after a brief meadow romp around the Hunting Grounds cuts into some of the most difficult downhill singletrack i've ever seen that didn't involve big hucks or crazy loose soil, before finally winding up with a 4-ish mile fire road back to the shuttle car.We brought a beginner with us, and whether it was early-season that had the trail barely used or just that not many people try the whole thing, we all felt bad for putting him through a lot of the ride. Beyond the fact that there a numerous - like more than 50 - places where a bad move can send a rider plummeting 50-100' down a sheer hillside, there was a significant amount of downhill singletrack that a rookie should not be attempting anyway, sheer drop or not. BEGINNERS CAN EASILY DIE ON THIS TRAIL.All those warnings aside, this ride was fan-damn-tastic. The singletrack climb in the middle is tough, but it's graded well enough that an altitude acclimated (5000' to 6000') rider can manage it without stopping and us low-landers just need to stop every now and then to catch breath. The downhill sections range from bumpy and chunky to smooth and flowy to sandy and slippy. We encountered 2 large creeks flowing strong (June 20th), numerous smaller flows and at least three mud bogs that put most riders on foot. Our entire trip, including waiting on the rookie, took about 6.5 hours, not including shuttle-time. Strong riders can probably knock this out in 4 hours, but i won't plan to do it with less than 6 hours of daylight. Seasonally this trail probably gets better toward the fall - there'll be less water but the trails should be easier to follow. We experienced a significant section of downhill that looked like it might've seen a dozen riders this season, and it was difficult to navigate and difficult to negotiate. I found it exhilarating but also at the very edge of my comfort zone.The GPS track on this site is crap. We'll try to post a more accurate track, but the 100' increments on the gpx we pulled from here made it impossible to tell which fork to take until we'd gone several hundred feet down the route, but it did in fact give us an accurate route to follow.All in all - one of the best rides in SoCal. Not for whiners or lightweights, this trail should challenge everyone's riding ability at one point or another. Don't miss it.
so much fun! this trail represents what mtb is all about. this is not a beginner trail and stamina needs to be a friend of yours. We only saw 1 other person with his dog in 12 miles. Start early and give yourself enough daylight and it get cold quickly when ur in the shade. this trail can be broken up and shuttled in sections with a good shirpa LOL
12/10/2011Small creek crossing
12/10/2011about 3 miles in
12/10/2011Not for the weak hearted
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