Guide To Santa Monica Mountains Bike Trails
Santa Monica and the surrounding area gets a lot of attention for its beach activities. And with the iconic people watching at Venice Beach and the amazing surfing, it makes sense that people head for the sand. But don’t forget about the Santa Monica Mountains. This LA mountain range gives you space to break free from crowds and zip along much faster than you can in westbound traffic. Here are some tips for biking in the Santa Monica Mountains:
Prepare for the Ride
Most trails in the Santa Monica Mountains require you to be very self-sufficient. That is to say, there are not going to be a plethora of ranger stations or maintained parks along the way. To that end, you should bring a kit to make small repairs to your tires or chain in case of emergency and have water and protein bars on hand. The National Park Service also recommends helmets for every rider in the Santa Monica Mountains. You should also check for closures – forest fires and red flag warnings can often close trails, and parking lots may flood during rainy seasons.
Follow Trail Etiquette
There are certain rules to follow when you’re riding in the Santa Monica Mountains. These etiquette guidelines help you not only get along with other humans you encounter but help you have a healthy relationship with the surrounding nature. You can find a good list of trail etiquette here. To quickly review, when you’re cycling Santa Monica Mountain trails, you should:
- Stick to existing trails; you are not allowed to create your own switchbacks or trails.
- Pack out what you pack in.
- Leave all gates as you found them (either opened or closed).
- Yield the right-of-way to hikers and equestrians.
- Never enter private property.
- Never pass an equestrian until you have alerted them to your presence and gotten verbal permission to do so (horses can easily spook).
Another important point to understand is when trails are opened or closed. According to the National Park Service, rules for the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, “If a trail is over 4 feet wide, it is a fire road and open, unless signed ‘Closed.’ If a trail is less than 4 feet wide, it is a single track and closed, unless signed ‘Open.’”
Match Your Trail to Your Skill
You might think mountain biking is just for pros, but there are a lot of trails in the Santa Monica Mountains – even some for beginners. Don’t try to tackle an advanced trail as a newbie. Start small and then work your way up to a more challenging trail as your skills improve. Paths like the Sulfur Springs Trail and Castro Creek Fire Road are great for beginners and intermediate riders, while The Backbone Trails is very popular among expert riders.
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