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Rides Near Me Part 2: The Manzanita Trail; California

Rides Near Me Part 2: The Manzanita Trail

Manzanita Trail going down from the picnic tables was amazing. It was fast, at times off-camber, and single track. The day my friends and I went for this adventure there were no hikers on the trail so it was pretty much free flowing riding, until we reached a rocky dry creek bed that only a trials champion (at least in my view) could have crossed on a bike. Overall, the trail was wooded, at that time, but fires in the past several seasons could have burned the tree line down. The trail was filled with oak trees and some parts of the trail were matted with leaves. This part of the ride and trail was downhill, slightly undulating and 2000 ft or so of descent action. There were some minor climbs in between, and except for the rocky creek hike-a-bike section, the Manzanita Trail was an amazing downhill.

As far as trail maintenance, the trail seemed well kept and seemed as though work crews used this trail and tended it occasionally, although this can never be for certain in my experience. When you come out at the trailhead there are some switchbacks that riders will need to slow down on and there does seem to be hiking traffic there and signs of short walk use by the campers at the trail head so I would advise riders to be vigilant at this point to avoid hitting hikers, walkers, and sight seers.

I am going to make the same recommendations as I did in article one about skill and fitness level, and the gear for this part of the ride needs to be quality gear. What I mean by quality is gear that is not your average gear, but gear that can handle the wear and tear of an undulating downhill, brakes that can stop consistently for miles on end and just for reference I was riding a Specialized Epic Comp, XT braking system, full suspension (Ruby Rock Shox front, and rear Fox Brain), no dropper seat post (which I wish I had), clipless pedals (XTR), SRAM X7,9 shifting system (I know, OLD stuff!!😊), and a pair of Schalbe Nobby Nics, which was a great cross country setup. A more all mountain setup would probably be better for this part of the ride. To put it plainly, your gear will need to be well thought out. The bike will need to function at a high level, and I say that as humbly as possible, anyone that enjoys working with fine tools knows what I mean.

This is a fun, EPIC ride that you can plan to do with you biking friends. Do not be intimidated, you will enjoy this ride thoroughly, and please comment in this blog post, or invite me through clikclik as I would love to see you making amazing memories on your bike with friends and family!!

I am going to repost my directions from part 1 , but any new additions to this part will be posted in blue.

Some vital information below:

  • Which bike should you use? MTB (full suspension for the downhill portion, but either will work) or Gravel

  • What fitness should you be in? Moderate to good shape. I am not a fitness expert, but you should be at a level where your body can handle intense grades and long climbs at a 5000 to 6000 ft elevation.

  • Possible Trail conditions: You should be prepared for quick movements and quick decisions on the trail, possible jumps and bumps, and rocks on the trail. I would be prepared for short punchy climbs, fallen leafs and off camber descents. Fallen trees, branches, and bear poop is a possibility. Rock washes, and possible small creek crossings. Also keep be vigilant for hikers, walkers, and sight seers.

  • When should you go? You can go in early fall before danger or snow, spring and summer. It is important to check the weather before you go as this is a high mountain ride, where weather can change at any moment, therefore a pack with supplies is never a bad idea. Depending on when you go you should prepare for hot temperatures in the summer months, and in the winter cold weather, but as I said before, if you are an avid outdoors person you should consider a wide range of weather possibilities.

  • Who should you go with? I would go with experienced cyclists and outdoors enthusiasts. Very fit beginners possibly, but the downhill portion requires “moderate” to “experienced” level MTB/Gravel skills.

  • Gear: Waterpack, food, goos, nutrition drink, dropper seat post would be great!

  • Timeframe: About 3 to 5 hours

  • Special Instructions: Prepare as though you will have little or no assistance, and you will have NO cell coverage in most areas so make sure you go with a group or let people know exactly where you will be. Also, if you depend on a phone to record your ride you may have a Strava Bonk, so I advise you use a cycle-computer like Garmin. I would wear a water pack, and take water (I over pack water as you never know how much you’ll need) and water sources are limited (I don’t know if there is a water source at the picnic area???). If you go in winter, prepare for the cold because it can get really cold at this elevation. If you check out my ride on Strava, note that the weather was 54 degrees (F), as see the pictures I was wearing a light road cycling jacket that I wore all the way up the climb.

A few warnings:

  • Ride this route, like all rides, at your own risk. MTB and cycling can be a dangerous activity

  • Try to go with someone who knows the trail and is experienced cyclist

  • The ride is short in distance but rigorous and should not be underestimated

  • There is a section of the Manzanita Trail that is UN-RIDE-ABLE and must be walked on the ride back. It is a rocky creek bed with boulders and an almost unidentifiable trail

  • There are also portions of the Manzanita Trail that have sharp, off-camber trail portions, and switchbacks. The way up does not present this concern, but going down the MT does have this single track that may be challenging for some riders, so if you don’t like to ride that type of trail, stay away or just go down the way you went up although I’ve never ridden that way so I don’t have experience in that route, and if you are an experienced rider you will know going up a climb is often very different going down.

  • Use caution and common sense and don’t ride outside of your abilities

If you have any questions or you would like to “Plan a Ride'' with me on the Manzanita Loop, message me on the clikclik website, and we will see if we can make this happen! We can even plan it out for a future ride on the clikclik app. Stay tuned for my next post of “Rides Near Me.”

Let’s ride!!!!

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