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Level: Intermediate
Length: 15 mi (24.1 km)
Surface: Singletrack
Configuration: Loop
Elevation: +1,757/ -1,740 ft
Total: 149 riders

Mountain Biking Mission Trails

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#92 of 1,001 mountain bike trails in California
#1,361 in the world

Located just 8 miles NE of downtown San Diego, Mission Trails Regional Park spans almost 5,800 acres and boasts over 40 miles of trails, making it one of the largest urban parks in the United States.

While there are a number of trails limited to foot traffic only, a majority allow bicycle (and some horse) access. Terrain varies from mellow doubletrack to the NE of the park, to nice easy singletrack (SW), to the extreme at the North side of North Fortuna Mtn. Climbs in the middle of the park are steep - 450-500' in ~half a mile - and can be loose.

Major Trail Summary:

Father Junipero Serra Trail:Paved road shared (1 lane traffic SW to NE only, 1 lane foot and bikes both ways) by vehicles and visitor traffic. Connects the visitors center area with Mission Dam (foot only, but beautiful) and Grasslands Loop trails as well as the campground.

Grassland Loop: Accessed from the Mast Blvd parking area in Santee, or from Grasslands Crossing from Father Junipero Serra Trail. Very mellow doubletrack - good for family outings with youngsters.

Oak Grove Loop: Trailheads are at the SW end of Fr Junipero Serra Trail, on the east side. Nice pleasant singletrack - good loop to add to a warmup ride, or for families with kids.

Visitors Center Loop: Mostly singletrack with some waterboards and 1 significant hill. Widens to the northwest and provides access to the San Diego River Crossing trail. This ford is closed when the water is up.

Mariposa Gulch:Connects the Grasslands loop with Fortuna Saddle and North perimeter trails. Hilly doubletrack but not all that steep.

North Perimeter Trail:Steep, loose doubletrack with large jagged rocks. Think bulldozer trail blasting straight no matter the terrain. Connects to the North end of North Fortuna and Shepherd Pond Loop from Mariposa Gulch.

Fortuna Saddle Trail: Steep at times doubletrack ranging from Mariposa Gulch to the East, all the way to the River Crossing to the West. This trail could be considered the "spine" of the system, crossing the Fortuna Mtns, with many intersections to side trails on the West side of the saddle. Some very nice singletrack can be had on the west side of the summit, to the north of the trail, connecting over to Shepherd Pond Loop. Look for these intersections between the Summit and Suycott Valley trail.

South Fortuna:Out and back from the top of Fortuna Saddle. Fairly easy doubletrack with some loose rocky sections. Note that the trail south of the summit becomes foot only.

North Fortuna:Connects Fortuna Saddle with North Perimeter and Shepherd Pond Loop via the top of North Fortuna Mtn. Steep doubletrack to the south of the summit, even steeper and technical singletrack to the north.

Suycott Wash:Nice pleasant singletrack connecting the west end of Fortuna Saddle with the SD River Crossing.

Suycott Valley:Mellow doubletrack connecting Fortuna Saddle with Shepherd Pond Loop and Rim Trail.

Shepherd Pond Loop:Mostly doubletrack with some steep sections. Trailhead (currently closed for construction) on Portobelo Drive in TierraSanta. Connects with North Fortuna, Rim Trail, and Suycott Valley. Some nice singletrack side trails exist in this area.

Rim Trail:Connects SD River Crossing with Suycott Valley via twin towers and to the West end of Fortuna Saddle. Begins (to the south) as gravel road, becomes doubletrack as you progress north.

*Quarry Loop Trail:Trailheads at Clairemont Mesa Blvd and Calle de Vida in TierraSanta. Connects with SD Crossing, Rim and Fortuna Saddle.*Currently inaccessible due to construction

San Diego River Crossing Trail:Gravel Road. Connects Visitors Center Loop with all trails to the west of the park. Ford over the river is closed when the water is up, and also closed at times due to construction.

If you'd prefer a loop of the entire park rather than an out and back or lollipop, I'd recommend a counter-clockwise loop. Start at the visitors center if you want a warm up, proceed NE on Father Junipero Serra trail (paved) with optional hits on Oak Grove and Visitors center loops. Cross the river at Grasslands Crossing. Without the warmup, begin at Mast Blvd at Grasslands loop. Proceed NW on Grasslands loop to Mariposa Gulch. Take either Fortuna saddle or the perimeter trail west to cross over Fortunas. From there, take your pick of routes West and South over to the final downhill at the SD river crossing trail. Note that the crossing is closed at times due to water levels and sometimes due to construction. Check at the visitors center if you can't afford an unplanned return the painful (steep) way. To make the route more difficult, simply reverse the direction - the climbs are more abrupt when taken in a clockwise fashion.

First added by Xerien on Dec 10, 2004. Last updated May 3, 2020. → add an update
Before you go
  • Drinking water: unknown
  • Lift service: unknown
  • Night riding: yes
  • Pump track: unknown
  • Restrooms: unknown
  • Fat bike grooming: unknown
  • E-bikes allowed: unknown
  • Fee required: unknown
This trail information is user-generated. Help improve this information by suggesting a correction.
Getting there
Mission Trails Regional Park in San Diego is accessible from Santee, San Carlos and Tierrasanta. Santee: From Hwy52, exit at Mast Blvd. Turn SW Parking and trailheads are at the SW end of Mast Blvd. Additional parking is available on the NE end of Father Junipero Serra Trail, off of Mission Gorge road. San Carlos: From Mission Gorge Road, turn North on Father Junipero Serra Trail. Parking and visitors center are approx .1 of a mile on the left. TierraSanta*: Parking is available at the east end of Clairemont Mesa Blvd. Additional trailheads (limited parking) are available on Calle de Vida and Portobelo Drive. *Note that access to the west end of the park from TierraSanta is very limited due to extensive construction at this time. Construction is scheduled to end in 2011.
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VECON Sports (on Oct 27, 2019)
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Mountain Bike Trails Near San Diego, California

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  • SD MTB

    I have a great time today

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  • Dave Leuck

    Super fun network of mostly single track with some significant rock gardens.The climb along Hwy 52 (West to East) then connect to E Ticket and E Ticket climb out and you will have scored most of the good stuff. Use a bell and be courteous to hikers.

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  • Mateo Juez

    The good riding is really good... but there's a lot of crappy riding to get to it.

    The actual singletrack in Mission is awesome, especially in the north west quadrant of the park. The caveat is about half of your ride will be fireroads, steep, loose, boring, exhausting fireroads.

    Also, trail maintenance isn't really a thing in SoCal... like nasty ruts, erosion, washout type trail damage is usually never fixed. so always look out.

    Night riding is fun here, you just have to park outside the park and ride in. really fun, have the trail to yourself and possibly encounter a mountain lion.

    Don't leave valuables in your car, there've been break ins.

    Local etiquette: ride with a bell to alert other trail users. it's annoying and it scares away all the cool lizards before you can see them. hikers man. Also, there's lots of hikers that like to wear headphones, have their dogs off leash (and like to bag and LEAVE their dog poo on the trail) and lots of people with music playing (so annoying). If you encounter hikers that are over-dressed for their hike (trekking poles, safari hats, performance outdoor hiking gear) who look like they just dropped $400 at REI on their outfit and gear, be very very courteous and yielding, these are the cats that like to show up to meetings to get bike access killed.

    All that said, the riding is good. It's best to give yourself several hours to get out and explore, because the signage isn't good, and you'll end up riding a lot of boring stuff, but as you get to know your way around, there's some rad riding, downhills, rock gardens, berms, good views, techy bits, etc.

    best routes IMO: E-ticket, descending North Fortuna Summit (go down the north side. getting up is a lot of hike-a-bike), the western part of North Fortuna Trail, and the "BMX" park that's off the San Diego River Crossing Trail, near Mission Gorge Rd (some fun jump lines).

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  • Mateo Juez

    A lot of variety for the area, some of the Fire road climbs/descents are insanely steep. Climb to the Fortuna summits, its worth the view

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  • austinmorgn

    Started out with goal to summit highest peask of 4 corners. The trails allow mountainbikes but are non conducive to the average rider. Even though I hiked a bike quite a bit I still think its a great trail system. zSo many more trails to explore with in the system. Ill definitely be back

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  • j1nelsonsd

    I agree this has so much more potential - needs singletrack trails. Lots of fireroad in some of the best places. Needs switchbacks

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  • scarshin

    Love e-ticket trail. Tons of great stuff to explore.

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  • Nemer06

    Great riding, rode this trail two times while visiting san diego. These trails are so much fun rode to the top of fortuna summit, then rode down, it was sweet. Great views everywhere

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  • AZBrainDoc

    This review is mostly for MUni riders. I have not found much info about San Diego trails for unicyclists and this was my first day riding here. I was on a KH24 unicycle, but these trails would have been more fun on my 26" or 29". For those with geared hubs, this is a great playground. I rode a 10 mile circuit starting at the visitor's center, going along Father Junipero Serra Trail to Grasslands Crossing Trail. All the trailheads to the east (right) were closed because of recent wildfires, so this paved stretch was a long warmup. If I were to do it again, I'd start at the Mast Blvd entrance. My ride took me along Grasslands Crossing (easy, mostly level, nothing technical, a few stretches of loose gravel) to Mariposa Gulch and Fortuna Saddle Trail. This included a challenging climb because of the pitch and loose rocks, so this stretch got my heart rate up - but the reward was a fun, steep, somewhat technical descent into the canyon on the other side. Trails are marked with signs listing a bunch of names, so after that, I was never sure exactly where I was. There are lots of single track climbs and descents back in there beyond the power lines, though.
    On my return, I ended up on a sweet technical single track, but turned out to be Oak Canyon Trail and is closed to bikes. I didn't see any signs about unicycles (JK, I would have returned another way if I had known). At the end, I did the Visitor Center Loop (easy single track, but fun).
    Overall, this park is a great place for unicyclists of varying abilities. A good workout for all. Very few cyclists on a Friday morning. Occasional hikers. Everyone friendly and welcoming.

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  • Peresite70

    Had a great time here while I was visiting the area. Didn't get to ride everything, but me and my friend did loop the whole outter perimiter of the trails and there where some long great ups and some long fun downs. The riding here is definitely a change from most of the riding I do where I live in FL. It was a fun change for sure. I would ride here again.

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  • amiram00

    Some of the best trails around. These trails are amazing. If you want technical go up the fortunuas. If you are hot, bring water. If you don't like to climb stay in grassland loop. It has everything you could want.

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  • Timothyfluegge

    Rode this trail this afternoon. Parked at the Mast Blvd trailhead and pieced together a counter-clock wise loop of the network. Climbing up to the Fortuna saddle was a pain in the butt, even on the smooth doubletrack. Enjoyed bits and pieces of fun singletrack after that. There's plenty of trails out here but it can be a lot of climbing and there is zero shade.

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  • david_darling

    Some good trails here. Lots of climbing. Very central to San Diego, good for a quick ride.

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  • SocalXC

    Rode Mission Trails today. The place is packed with rider, hikers, and horses. The east side of the park is the best place to get away from the crowd and get on some decent singletrack/doubletrack. Besides the lose rocks, thios place is not really technical, but it can be fun it you know your way around. Lots of hill training too, if you want.

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  • carnagecreator

    lots of trails, hot and dry. Bring lots of water. Watch out for joggers and yield to them. Almost no shade but lots of aerobic climbs and neat high desert scenery. Keep and eye out for the buzz worms.

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