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Level: Advanced
Length: 11 mi (17.7 km)
Surface: Other
Configuration: Out & Back
Elevation: +1,735/ -1,715 ft
Total: 156 riders

Mountain Biking San Juan Trail

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#13 of 1,003 mountain bike trails in California
#290 in the world

Entering the trail at the east end adjacent to the Blue Jay Campground. The trail climbs a very steep set of stacked switchbacks from the floor of Hot Springs Canyon. It then traverses briefly before steeply ascending a ridge toward Sugarloaf Mountain. Large boulders, chaparral, brush, and nice views. The trail first intersects the Viejo Tie Trail and then junctions with the Chiquito Trail before a steep climb and then continues to the end at the North Main Divide Road, just south of Blue Jay Campground. This trail is very popular with mountain bikers.

First added by alvin.santoy on Dec 16, 2008. Last updated May 11, 2020. → add an update
Before you go
  • Drinking water: unknown
  • Lift service: unknown
  • Night riding: unknown
  • 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
In the Cleveland National Forest, the lower trailhead is in Hot Spring Canyon 3/4 mile past the San Juan Fire Station. The upper trailhead is at Blue Jay Campground 4 miles north of the Ortega Highway on Long Canyon Road.
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San Juan Trail Trail map

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Trail checkins

MTB MOR (on Jan 1, 2022)
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Trail conditions

Good (on Jan 1, 2022)
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Mountain Bike Trails Near San Juan Capistrano, California

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Advanced | 7 mi
Intermediate | 1 mi
Beginner | 23 mi

Rider questions

Q: Are there any paid shuttle options to the top?

Q: How do you shuttle to the top? Is there a website with prices and information? Can you shuttle to the top year round?
A: They do now. Shuttle at San Juan Trail will start in Nov. 2017 website shuttleatsanjuantrail.com They do now. shuttleatsanjuantrail.com starts Nov. 2017

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    Feb 23rd after a rain...It's a great trail but crowded on a weekend after the rain. The trail to Cocktail Rock is clear. Super fun coming down, but I had a silly crash. It's a long and tiring downhill.

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  • sean mckenna

    Top class trail with something for everyone. Big climb to start -6 miles to cocktail rocks from Hot Springs trailhead. Both routes to Upper Trail Head had fallen trees so ended up walking a fair bit. This trail is for competent bikers as plenty of big rocks/downhill. The blast back down from cocktail rocks is a great way to finish

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  • cjsutterer

    This was a pretty killer trail system. The first half is a mix of up and down, more down though. Tight and twisty. The second half is mostly down, and it kicks butt. Fast, tight and amazing views. Smiles all over!

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  • TeaWorks

    This is probably one of the best trails in all of SoCal. I highly recommend climbing up from the parking lot at the bottom so that you earn the sweet ride back from Cocktail Rock. I also recommend doing the lollypop at the top as well.

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  • LarrySe

    Sooooo much fun to ride down hill of course.

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  • chukt   ✓ supporter

    Great trail! There is some erosion and deep ruts. Otherwise awesome riding w/ short rock gardens and switchbacks and big views and a rare feeling of remoteness in SoCal.

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  • TeaWorks

    This trail gets right down to business at the TH with 12 or more switch backs. Do the climb and earn the downhill - don't shuttle and you'll appreciate it more. Best ride in the OC!

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  • cefeagler

    Gorgeous, challenging singletrack, easily-accessible from the Irvine area. Extreme exposure and brutal climbing through switchbacks for the first several miles means this trail is not for beginners. The views from the upper portions of the trail make the effort well worth it, though, if you have the grit to make it there.

    Cell coverage is almost non-existent on the trail, and you must be entirely self-sufficient or risk a long slog back to the lot. On even mild days, it is easily possible to go through 4 liters (1 gal) of water per rider in less than two hours.

    Parking permits are required, and can be purchased locally.

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    Great trail to shuttle on. Good mix of flowy, open air sections b with tree covered narrow single track through the woods

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  • joshaw

    One of the best in OC

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  • ****

    My favorite trail in oc. I've done this more than 20 times and I love it even the drive to there is fun. Dry so bring more water and leave early by max 9am

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  • k2rider

    This is hands down the best trail in Orange County. I used to ride up from the bottom but now we shuttle it 90% of the time. The top half is a rip roaring, roller coaster ride...albeit with plenty of rocks, overhanging trees and misc other obstacles. I especially like it because there are plenty of short sections which you can set as goals to clear. I'm at the point after riding this trail 20 times where there's just one obstacle I've yet to clear. The lower half below Cocktail Rock is *generally* a screaming fast, swoopy, 98% going downhill section on DG dirt. Some people complain about the switchbacks at the bottom but once again, I look at them as an obstacle to clear. there used to be 3-4 that gave me fits but now I clear them all w/o any issues.

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  • Eric Foltz

    First off, the trail is 11.4 miles long. If you go up to Blue Jay and down, it is just under 23 miles round trip. A lot of riders only go to Cocktail Rock at 6.5 miles. It is a great ST trail with plenty to challenge you. Rocks, roots, off-camber turns, serious exposure, everything you want in a great trail. Lots of riders shuttle so watch out on your way up.

    I like to do this as a loop starting in Trabuco Canyon, go up Trabuco Trail, drop down to Blue Jay on Main Divide, descend SJT then jump on San Juan Creek Trail to Caspers where you take West Ridge back to Trabuco. Awesome route.

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  • drock30

    24 switchbacks or so, 3000ft elevation gain on a 8 mile climb, tight washed out singletrack, breathtaking views, and one super long, fast and flowy decent are what I discovered on the San Juan trail. My CPU said it was more like 18 miles out and back with 3500ft total elevation gain. It's a fairly technical trail, nothing to dangerous though. Takes a lot of energy to ride. I found it to grip very well with my nobby nics. Make sure to buy a parking pass from a local store first. I stopped a ton of times to take photos haha. I just loved this ride!

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    Did the 2-car trick with blue jay and had a great ride. Broke my chain and limped the last few miles. amazing place.

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  • abegold

    I blew up on this trail. The 3500' climb defeated me. It's tough.

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  • *****

    This was a great trail. Bring plenty of water. Small jumps on the way down with a lot of switchbacks. Very narrow trails.

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  • david_darling

    Could be the best singletrack in SoCal. Awesome set of switchbacks to start the ride then some rocky sections requiring short bursts of power. There are some exposed sections commanding all your attention. The DG or decomposed granite makes the riding surface very slippery( like marbles on a tile floor) so careful on the way back down. There are a few washed out sections in some turns but overall the trail was in good shape.I used to do night rides here in the mid 90's. A must do.

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  • The_Germ

    Awesome Singletrack. ended up going up the trail then riding back down. some really sharp switchbacks. watchout for the washouts and hikers.

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  • jmatt

    The SJT defines singletrack. It starts out with 2 dozen switchbacks then graduates to some very technical rocky climbs and a few don't look down sections. Its only 7.5 mi and 3500 ft of gain out but makes you a better rider every time. It also connects to the Cleveland National Forest for all day Epics or just crank it back down to the car. My condolences to those who don't ride up this jewel, you are shuttling when you could be experiencing one of the most satisfying rides in SOCAL :).

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