Closest Mountain Biking to Encinitas
If you had to pick one trail in the North Coast area is that is close to the major populations it would be Rancho La Costa. In the center of Rancho La Costa area is Denk Tank Mountain. Denk Tank Mountain is the highest point in Carlsbad. Denk Tank Mountain offers a spectacular panoramic view of much of coastal San Diego. Rancho La Costa Preserve is managed by the Center for Natural Lands Management(CNLN). Through out the year, CNLN and the San Diego Mountain Bike Association have trail building days. These trail building days are a key part of keeping these heavily use trails in good condition for the mountain biker.
View La Costa Hills Moutain Bike Trails in a larger map
Rancho La Costa has three main trails. Visit one of the San Diego Bike shops to get a map of the trails. There are two trails going to the top of the hill on the south side of Denk Mountain (“Switchback” on the west side and “Vista Del Mar” on the East side). Connecting these to trails is Tank Hill / Denning fire road along the ridge of the top of Denk Mountain.
I suggest that you start at the parking area near the crossing of Camino Junipero and Corta Romero and ride east to Sitio Salvia and turn into the gravel road on the east side of the road. From there you can connect to the west switchback trail call “Switchbacks” or “The Old Switchbacks”. A mile up the “Switchbacks” you will come to the Tank Hill fire road. If you are an aggressive down hill full suspension mountain biker you can make a sharp right turn and go down the NASCAR. This is the best steep downhill trail in the entire San Diego Coastal region. You will often see fully armored downhillers on their Trek full suspension mountain bikes bombing down NASCAR.
If you are looking for a longer, less aggressive route I would suggest that you continue east on the Tank Hill / Denning fire road up to the top of Denk Mountain and take a breather and be impressed with the 360 degree view of San Diego.
Once you are rested and have placed a rock on the pile at the vista (This is a ritual that all in the know mountain bikers do), continue east to the Vista Del Mar trail. Eventually you will descend to Corte Romero near where your car is parked.
This mountain bike route will take mountain bikers 45 to 90 minutes. Catch your breath and try the other trails of Rancho La Costa.
For more information about this area contact El Camino Bike Shop, San Diego’s best Bike Shop.