Reviewer: World Traveler, San Diego, CA, USA
Noble Canyon was definitely an experience the first time I went. My dad and I drove up for Chula Vista, CA in the morning towards Pine Valley, CA. Pine Valley’s quiet streets, relaxed atmosphere, and local crowd deserve a stop of their own. I’ve always enjoyed going through Pine Valley, even if it is only to park the car.
While you can drive directly to the top, park your car, and take off down the trail, this leaves a not-so-beginner-friendly hill on one side and an ever more excruciating one on the other. At the bottom of the trail is a rest stop (of sorts) and from their if you head out of the camp and up the service road (which turns into a paved road) for the next 7 miles up a seemingly never-ending hill. I would like to think of myself as somewhat of a climber when it comes to mountain biking, but I will admit with such distain that this was the first hill I have ever had to stop on, not because of lost balance or a missed line but simply out of sheer exhaustion. I had nothing left.
So, you can go that way, or find a friend and take another car; leave one at the bottom and shuttle your other to the top. The second time I had gone to Noble I went with some high school friends of mine. We took a full hitch trailer with two vehicles. We took off down the trailhead and started what would be one of the most exciting, enjoyable, and all out terrifyingly fun rides of my life. The shuttle service back to the top didn’t hurt either.
I can’t spend much time explaining to you the intricacies of the trail or what spots to watch out for because it is something to be experienced for yourself. It may be only 11miles of “downhill” but you’ll find yourself going through an endless change in terrain and scenery, up hills, down hills, switchbacks, rock gardens, river beds, drop off, fall trees, and certain technical sections like you wouldn’t believe.
I will say, though, this is not for beginners. Noble Canyon has its reputation for a reason. It’s incredibly fun but takes skill. I would rate this for intermediate to experience to kamikaze level riders. The first time rider would be in for one heck of a day.
Well, I know this may not be the most detailed review ever but I hope it’s sparked your interest enough that when you come check out all the amazing mountain biking in San Diego you’ll put Noble Canyon on your list.
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