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Otay Mountain Truck Trail

Average Rating:    (5 of 5)

No. of Reviews: 1

Heading to San Diego and wondering where to ride? From my experience (admittedly limited), there are few choices for decent riding in and near town. Many of the trails listed in these reviews will disappoint those coming from areas with better mountain biking. But Otay Mountain Truck Trail is an exception. It will provide a first-rate workout and excellent views, though no technical challenge; Anderson Truck Trail is another fine choice.

From its start on the west side near the Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility, a state prison, the trail is a seven-mile-long, moderately steep climb on a well-graded fire road to 3585 feet at the electromagnetic towers atop Otay Mountain. The climb is about 3000 vertical feet.

Access to the trail is bizarrely obscure. I found it best to park near the Mexican restaurant on Kuebler Ranch Road and make my way to the trail. There is no parking near the official entrance, which is an obscure driveway with no signs and a locked gate.

From the top of Otay Mountain, enjoy the fabulous views into Mexico and of Southern California. Retrace your route. Or go north for about half a mile and then (1) continue east on the Otay Mountain Truck Trail, descending to Hwy 94, or (2) continue north on Minnewawa Truck Trail (another fire road), descending to Otay Lakes Road. How you make your way back to your car from those places is up to you, but do not attempt to enter the Otay Mountain Ecological Reserve off Otay Lakes Road. I tried traversing that land, which is managed by the Calif. Dept. of Fish and Game, and had to climb down and up a steep hillside to get around the Lower Otay Reservoir dam, and then discovered I was in a no-access area. It may be better to head to Wueste Road, turn south, pass Lower Otay County Park, and then continue on dirt roads across no-man's-land back to Alta Road. Seek advice locally.

One of the best aspects of this ride is that you're looking down on suburban Tijuana, which has grown enormously. I know of no other ride in the world that puts you in splended isolation on a high ridge and allows you to look across a border into a crowded corner of a fast-developing but still less wealthy country. It is remarkable.

I have been told that people smuggling themselves into the United States traverse Otay Mountain, so be careful. Si usted habla español, tanto mejor. At one point my Verizon cell phone thought I was in Mexico! The trail is patrolled by Border Patrol agents, so if you're not a United States citizen I recommend carrying your passport to show that you're legally present in the United States.
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Fire Roads
San Diego
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Reviews 1 - 1 (1 Reviews Total)

Review Date
January 2, 2009

Overall Rating
 5 of 5

Aerobic Difficulty
 3 of 5

Technical Difficulty
 2 of 5

Ridden Trail:
Ridden Once

Visitors rate this review
5.00 of 5, 1.00 votes

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Reviewed by: imtnbke ,  Cross Country Rider

Please see my comments in the introduction to the Otay Mountain Truck Trail.

Recommended Route:
I've ridden it only once, from the west. It could also be ridden from the east, at a junction with Highway 94, or from the north (steeper climb) up Minnewawa Truck Trail from an unmarked and obscure entrance a couple hundred feet west of a trailer park along Otay Lakes Road.

At the top, I had great views of the snow-capped Cuyamaca Mountains and another peak that I think was San Gorgonio, perhaps 100 miles to the north.

Other recommended trails in the same area:
Anderson Truck Trail. Aside from that, in my experience you have to go to the Cuyamacas to find decent mountain biking in San Diego County. Perhaps things have improved since I checked out disappointments like the Sycamore Canyon Trail. The Otay Mountain Truck Trail would not rate five chiles in other parts of the country, but for near San Diego it's one of the best that I've seen. And if you're a cross-country racer the seven-mile climb will provide a great aerobic workout. ¡Tenga cuidado de personas de aspecto sospechoso!

imtnbke (01/02/2009)
There's a typo in my introductory comments about this trail: I meant splendid, not splended. Should have run the spell-check.
noodleman (01/26/2009)
You need to get out more. Decent riding in San Diego? The trails here are what you make them. 7 miles? Try Mission trails. technical, steep, fun. Tecelote. 12 miles of fast single track with climbs and downhills. Scripps racnch. Designed riding trails for a great cardio work out. South Poway trails? A lung buster that can take you from teh 67 all the way to interstate 5 with only ONE road crossing. You want to jump? Look at Meadowbrook. You rode a trail once and suddenly it's the best in San Diego? Riding is what you make it.
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Reviews 1 - 1 (1 Reviews Total)