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Socal - San Diego County - Ramona NickNames: #BlackMountain
Don't confuse this with the Black Mountain in Rancho Penasquitos. This one is much more 'mountainly' at over 4,000 feet.
To get there, take I-15 to Scripps-Poway Parkway and go east to Highway 67, then north on Hwy. 67 (past Iron Mountain trailhead) into Ramona. Keep going straight through Ramona and when you get downtown, turn left on 7th St. On 7th, bear right. 7th turns into Elm St. Then turn right on Haverford at the 'T' intersection. Haverford quickly becomes Pamo Rd. Follow Pamo Road down into the serene valley. You're in Cleveland National Forest now (so you'll need your Adventure Pass to park.) The pavement will end. You'll cross a cement bridge (with no railing!) over a creek, then a cattle crossing about 1.5 miles later. Just after the cattle crossing is the trailhead on your right. Just park to the side of the dirt road you're on, next to the barbed wire fence.
This time I drove Black Mountain Rd from Ramona all the way down to where it meets up with the Santa Ysabel Creek, and parked the car there at the bridge (don't forget the Adventure Pass!). I biked uphill on Black Mountain Rd from there, and had another surprisingly nice ride! This is quite likely the easiest 'mountain' biking I've done in SD County yet, and would be a great place to take a beginner. Basically very hard-packed dirt road at a gentle grade, that winds it's way up the canyon. At this time of year, you never get far from the sound of roaring water as it cascades through the valley below the road bed. You will pass through an Indian reservation about 1/3 of the way up, then some nice waterfalls about 2/3 of the way up, and finally go through a stretch of beautiful farmland near the upper end. After about 6 miles, you hook up with the 76, and you can do a little road riding up there if you feel like it before riding back down Black Mtn Rd the way you came. On this day I saw a flock of wild turkeys, a great deal of predatory birds, a coyote, a small rattler, and a bull blocking the road that made me extremely nervous!
I highly recommend this little jaunt for one of those days you just want a relaxing ride with some nice scenery, or you want to introduce a friend to the sport. One thing: don't take Black Mtn Rd in like I did, it's pretty sketchy in some places with a serious drop on one side! Take Sutherland Dam Rd instead - it ends up being the same approximate mileage but is much easier on your car, and a lot safer!
Ride rating: Beginner
Ride distance: 12 miles Elevation change: 1000?
Dirt Road=80% Paved Path=20%
seaclasper a 35 year old Cross-Country Rider
This whole area is not listed in the San Diego Mountain Biking Guide that everyone uses, but is a real gem of a spot. Go now while the temperatures are perfect! Also, the road is closed to motorized traffic due to major ruts from all the rain; is it so peaceful without those damn motorcyclists! These ruts are only at the very beginning of the trail, and even so shouldn't pose a problem to cyclists, who can easily avoid the three-foot deep chasms...
If anyone knows of a good guide for this region, I'd like to hear about it. I think I'll just go pick up a good topo map...
Ride rating: Novice
Ride distance: 12 miles Elevation change: 1000
Paved Path=1% Truck Trail=199%
The Seaclasper a 35 year old Cross-Country Rider riding a Post-catalytic Egg-beater from Lumbago
First time riding this trail, and it took me about 2.5 hours to climb to the top. It's all wide fireroad with (for the most part) a very reasonable grade. Frankly, there aren't that many views on the ways up, and the trail itself is just a long grind. Great workout, though, and the view from the top is SO worth the effort. Its so clear up there today you can see mosquitos on Catalina Island! Plus, the valley below is real purty...
Ther are a few other trails around the area that would be worth checking out as well. Black Mountain is open to motorized vehicles, so be careful, esp. on the way down. I saw three today, not bad for a Saturday. All in all, absolutely worth a visit!
Ride distance: 15 miles Elevation change: 3000 ft
Singletrack=1% Truck Trail=99%
The Seaclasper a 34 year old Cross-Country Rider riding a Sausage McMuffin with Egg from Sandy Eggo
One day we were looking over the USGS topo map of the area and decided that the elevation lines around the Black Mountain trail couldn't be that bad even if they were close together. We left early in the morning on a partly cloudy day. It was a slow but steady grind in middle chainring up until the last mile when things got dicey. At the top we found ourselves robbed of the view by a cloud. That was a bummer. The downhill that followed was not the adrenaline rush I was hoping for. At the time I was riding a hardtail Trek 7000 aluminum with a Rock Shox Quadra elastomer fork and the old school short arm cantilever brakes with glazed, worn pads. Purely a lax cross country setup.
I bumped and slid and jolted my way down the first loose section of the mtn. We had to stop a few times because our hands actually cramped up from the breaking. When the road conditions improved we managed to lay off the brakes and made some good time getting back to the valley.
We continuted to ride in the Cleveland Nat Forest until I moved away to college but we never did make it back up Black Mtn. Though we did look at the trail every time we took the right fork towards Black Canyon.
My dad and I rode the CNF at least weekly for 5 years. We only saw other mtn bikers 3 times.
Ride rating: Intermediate
Jered a 30 year old Cross-Country Rider riding a Gary Fisher Hoo Koo E Koo from Point Loma, CA
This is an up and back fire road with some beautiful scenery and a fun descent. The total ride is 14.2 miles. The ride up is a constant, middle ring grind until about mile 6.2, where the granny gear comes in handy.
The ride starts out in dry chapparal. Begin the exposed, winding climb and at about mile 1.5 you'll see a ranger 'Black Mountain' sign with a map at a fork in the road. Keep to your left. I understand that if you take the right, this leads you to Mesa Grande.
Keeping to your left, keep on grinding up the mountain. Your goal is the patch of pine trees way up top that you can see from your parking spot. The truck trail rolls and winds. Between mile 3 and 4 you get some much needed shade from the oaks. At about mile 5 you start passing some great vistas with forever views. Really scenic. Parts of this remind me of the Indian Truck Trail. You'll also approach another 'Black Mountain' sign around here with a map and some wildlife brochures. Keep to your right this time, which is the uphill course. If you go left it's just a dead-end spur.
The climb gets a little looser and steeper at this point, but more scenic. You'll hit the pine trees soon (at about the steepest pitch) and the 'Penney Pines' sign on your right. It gets really loose around here, but no dabs necessary.
You'll reach the top at about mile 7.2, which is basically a dirt culdesac surrounded by small boulders. A neat feature is the fire look-out station at top, which entails a hike of about a quarter mile or so starting from the top, to the north. You have to scamper over some boulders and weeds, but there is a barely discernible trail. Soon you'll see the concrete bunker-looking cistern, which has some vine-covered rock steps leading up to it. It looks like something out of Planet of the Apes. If you stand on top of the bunker you are rewarded with an unbelievable, 360 degree panoramic view. It's well worth the short hike.
In all, this ride entails a good workout climb of over 3,000', a great view on top and a fun, fast descent.
Ride rating: Intermediate
Ride distance: 14.2 Elevation change: over 3,000'
Heckler a Cross-Country Rider riding a FSR from San Diego