August 24, 2015
I parked at the Volin trailhead, planning to explore the Southeast/Plains section of the park. I was the 2nd car in the lot. I rode Northwest, taking the road to Crystal Ridge, connecting to Canyons, to Via Viggo (I think), onto Mahogany, eventually looping onto the Northwest end of Canyons. I then circled back towards the Southeast, riding Canyons, Middle Kingdom, then back onto Canyons around the north side of Crystal Reservoir. I turned around where Canyons became full on hike-a-bike, as I've heard other people talk about (I was squeezed for time too). I looped around Blue's Cruz on my way back, finally taking Cliff Hanger back to the Volin trailhead. This loop was 10 miles long with ~1300 feet of total climbing. The longest single climb was only ~300ft, so it was pretty easy on the legs.
The trails are mostly narrow singletrack with a granite gravel surface. There are occasional technical challenges, but they are generally more spread out than on the northwest/mountain side of CGSP.
There is practically no shade on these trails, except for the short section near the creek, so be prepared on hot/sunny days. Ride in the morning if you hate wind. After exploring the trails on the southeast/plains side of CGSP, I find the northwest/mountain side of the the park to be more fun. I'll focus my future riding in that area.
I rode on a Wed morning, and saw exactly 0 other people on the trails. There were folks at the campsites, and fishermen in the parking lots, but no one on the trail. For your $4-6 entrance fee you get a nice trail map, and I needed it. While others have said lots of good things about the trail signage, I wasn't as thrilled. There were a lot of trail intersections, and many of the signs appear to have deteriorated to the point where only about half the trails at an intersection are marked. While I never got lost, I spent a lot of time standing at these intersection, studying the map. When you get to Middle Kingdom, you find trail signage that looks pretty different from the trail map you got at the visitor's center.