Summary: This trail is wicked fun. It's probably my favorite trail around. I usually start at the Big Laguna campground and go through the meadow first before descending so the ride starts out flowy and easy, but when you finally get on Noble, it gets rocky. It's still flowy up at the top, but, as it drops in elevation, it gets rockier and rockier. There are many portions throughout that have a fun flow to it and others (Staircase to Hell) that are very technical. There are a few creek crossings although they're nothing to worry about. Watch out for poison oak though when you're down in the canyon along the stream - there's a lot of it. Eventually, you drop out of the trees and into the desert terrain and down the Staircase to Hell - probably the most technical section on the trail. Once you cross the river, its a terrible sandy uphill stretch to the top of a saddle. The section immediately following is very flowy, but quickly gets rocky and technical again. Before you know it, you're at the bottom. There are some optional rock, dirt, and log jumps scattered here and there throughout although the horseback riders who also frequent the trail have grown to hate bikers and knock down any jumps they find so don't count on the same jumps always being there. As I alluded to above - share the trail! Hikers and horses also use the trail so be wary of them and give them space and respect so we can keep using these trails.
Recommended Route: Start at the Big Laguna Campground off of Sunrise highway (about mile-marker 21 I think). Park by the bathrooms and from here, keep riding out the same main road until you come to the first trail on the right (hidden by some branches). At the first intersection, take a right and go through the fence (you are now in the meadow). Keep right again at the second intersection and go through the wash. At the next intersection you will go over a cattle grate and through a fence, then take a right. Follow along the fence line and over the small wooden bridge to the next intersection. Keep left through two small intersections in quick succession that go to the same place. You will now go across a small earth dam of one of the little lakes and come to another intersection. Here, take a right. This will take you up a short, winding uphill. You end up at another intersection by a large fallen tree. Follow the trail marker instructions for Noble Canyon and take a left. You will shortly come to another (the last) intersection - take a left here. This takes you down a short, fun downhill to the paved road - Noble Canyon trail is off to your right. Follow it down to the parking lot.
Other recommended trails in the same area: Mt. Laguna Meadow, Cuyamaca, Morena, Anderson Truck Trail, Carvacre Truck Trail, California Riding and Hiking trail, mission trails, Wrights field
Summary: Holy balls, Noble Canyon was a great ride. That was one of the best trails I've ever ridden.
We were a little nervous about making it to the top, because my friend was on a single-speed, so we wussed-out and rode Pine Valley (a paved road) to the top. The ride up was fine on my all-mountain bike, but my friend had to walk a couple of the steep sections with his single-speed.
The descent had a little bit of everything. It started out with smooth, flowy, fast singletrack, dropped down into a creek bed with several optional small to medium sized rock and log jumps, and then dumped you out of the woods into scrub forest with several rocky, chunky sections. Save some energy for a final sandy climb up to a saddle, followed by another fast, flowy descent with many optional jumps, which gradually gets rockier and more technical as you approach the parking lot. In addition to the sweet trail, the scenery was pretty great the entire ride, and the weather was perfect.
Some of the reviews available online make the trail sound much more intimidating than it actually is. There are no drops, or other moves with big consequences, and there really wasn't as much exposure as I expected after reading other reviews. There are some rocky chunk sections, but nothing that's too dangerous unless you're riding faster than your ability level. My GPS died halfway up the climb, but I'm pretty sure the entire ride was less than 20 miles, so I don't think I would call it an 'epic' ride, but it sure was fun.
This trail is prefect for an all-mountain bike, but my friend rode almost everything on a single-speed hardtail. There are several creek crossings, and I would suggest bring a bottle of lube. We didn't and I could barely get in and out of my pedals by the end.
Summary: Okay, I've now climbed the trail up from the lot at Pine Valley, 8 miles from lot to Sunrise highway, not to bad. Up a steep paved road for about 7 miles, then trail for the the last mile up. Bad news: 8 miles up (power training); Good news: 11 miles down (fun, fun, and more fun). I rode on Sunday Dec 2nd after some rain the two days before and it was outstanding. At the top some of the trail was frozen, some snow on the ground, some mud, but the ride down was excellent. Went from probably 35 degree at the top to 65 degrees by the end. I'd hoped to make it down in 45 minutes but ended up at 55 minutes. Not a bad deal since the trip up only took an hour. If you plan to race Downieville in July, this is the perfect loop to train on, I've done it and Noble is nearly a perfect course for this.
Recommended Route: Up paved road to the right out of the Noble Canyon parking area, ride up NC trail on second trail crossing over the pavement at the top. At top, turn around, take a breath, and jam down the hill ending up in the lot where you parked. Don't forget to buy the day pass, the cash you pay is well worth to ride and it helps maintain the trails.
Other recommended trails in the same area: Mission Trails, top of North Fortuna, down towards the 52 freeway, left at the first intersect, through the valley to the visitors center. Nice local ride with climbs and downhill single track.
Summary: I rode Noble Canyon today, unfortunately starting at the top via shuttle due to my riding partner being a novice rider. I have ridden the trails in here before when I wasn't a racer and could ride the entire trail but today was an awesome ride, I was able to ride everything. Much, much, much single track, nice drops, tight bermed turns, jumps, it was the most fun I had since Toad's Wild Ride, Oat Mine trail in Calistoga, and the Downieville Classic. I'm in San Diego for another month and want to ride with some serious riders, starting from the bottom, going up, then bombing down. First I need to do some maintenance on my fork; the Fox RLC 32 suffered some extreme trama and began bleeding and my rear tube decided to blow out in the final rocky decent, what a rush.
Note: Skill level - I think I can make it from top to bottom in 45 minutes, not sure up but I figure maybe an hour.
Send me a message if you're interested in a great ride:
Recommended Route: Noble Canyon
Other recommended trails in the same area: Not sure, but Mission Trails, over South Fortuna and down the back side was fun. Still looking.
Summary: This is THE most fun trail closest to San Diego County. It also is not a trail to bring a beginner. Noble Canyon has some serious technical descent. If you're not careful you could drop off at 20-25 foot cliffs! Watch out! It's a DH dream but a little more challenge for XC guys especially if your fork has 100mm of travel or less. Me and some friends just finished this trail at night and it was sick! If you ride at night save battery on the way up until you hit Noble.
Recommended Route: Park at Pine Valley Road and go up the asphalt to the Oak Tree then down the fire road towards Indian Creek Trail. At the top of Indian Creek go straight down to some VERY fast descent and slightly technical stuff towards Noble Canyon intersect. Enjoy!
Other recommended trails in the same area: Mt. Laguna Meadow, Cuyamaca State Park