San Juan Trail

Cleveland National Forest, California

Distance13.3mi
Elevation Gain8,265ft
Trailhead Elevation817ft
Top3,401ft
Elevation Min/Max817/3401ft
Elevation Start/End817/817ft

San Juan Trail

San Juan Trail is a hiking, biking, and horse trail in Orange County, California. It is within Cleveland National Forest. It is 13.3 miles long and begins at 817 feet altitude. Traveling the entire trail is 22.7 miles with a total elevation gain of 8,265 feet. Along the trail there are parkings. The trail ends near Sugarloaf Peak. This trail connects with the following: Hotspring Canyon.

San Juan Trail Professional Reviews and Guides

"The San Juan Trail truly is one of the finest stretches of singletrack in SoCal. The trail boasts every feature of an ideal two-wheeled romp, including technical rock gardens, steep bomb runs, kickers, and fast-banked turns, with the picturesque panorama of the Santa Ana Mountains in the Cleveland National Forest as an exquisite backdrop. Switchbacks form the defining characteristic of this playground: more are found on this 8.7-mile stretch than in any other locale—I lost count after ten in the first mile of ascent. Although this ride is recommended as a shuttle run, it is probably best enjoyed ridden up and then down. The throbbing pain in your legs and lungs is hard to notice when there is so much to see and so many obstacles to negotiate. If your bike was built for anything other than downhill duty and you’ve got the time, please abort the shuttling mission. Better yet, ride the whole thing and then shuttle it, because afterward you’ll surely want another slice of downhill indulgence."

"Explore San Juan Creek, Canyon and even a seasonal waterfall for this easy-to-access trail just off Ortega Highway. An excellent leg-stretcher for Highway 74 road warriors, this trail offers a fine introduction to the pleasures of the Santa Ana Mountains and Cleveland National Forest. Spring is a fine time to take this hike. Wildflowers blossom on canyon slopes, the creek bubbles along and the falls cascade at full force. Kids (and adults, too) like to cool off in the creek’s pools. If this hike isn’t long enough for you, head up the Chiquito Trail for a few miles."

"Undoubtedly, Orange County's premier singletrack, the San Juan Trail is pure fun. It is the fastest of all the regional National Forest trails but still packed full of challenging obstacles. Be careful: more than a few people have had to be rescued on this trail. While advanced riders ride up and down the singletrack, intermediate riders may want to arrange a shuttle."

"The directions are simple: follow the San Juan Trail to Cocktail Rock and return. The outbound ride runs almost completely uphill. You won’t reach a trail fork until you reach Cocktail Rock. The return trip is a hoot, an adrenaline rush, a great test of your biking skills, and definitely worth the climb."

San Juan Trail Reviews

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10/30/2011
Make sure you get a Forest Adventure pass (for each car if you plan to shuttle)! I typically ride the Santa Monica Mountains but got out recently to give this a whirl. The San Juan Trail is awesome - definitely one of my favorite rides in SoCal! As always, I rode it on a Kona 5-0 (hardtail with 5.5" travel). We shuttled it leaving a car at the hot tubs and driving up to Blue Jay. Without the shuttle, the ride seems doable, as evident as the many people we passed, but in my opinion did not look like fun - maybe when I get my stamina up! The first 6 miles or so riding from Blue Jay are rolling with some short gradual (but sometimes technical) ascents and similarly technical short descents. The views from up there are amazing and I found this first portion to be fairly aerobic even though you end up with a net loss of elevation at the halfway point. If you are in reasonable shape though, this will be no problem for you! The last 6 miles is all downhill and definitely will leave you ending on a high note with your adrenaline pumping. The terrain ranges from hard to loose with some ruts, dropoffs, and switchbacks. This is where you can open it up and get some speed, but be careful, there are a few potentially dangerous spots if you are out of control or slip up at the wrong time. Can't wait to get back to this ride again!
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10/5/2001
but his trail is awsome and will kick your butt. also a good place to get rid of your boss. You know what i mean! Have fun and don't forget to by the eTrail (trail chapter from guidebook above).
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5/14/2001
This is one of the best trails in the area due to the variation of terrain it provides. The climb up is long but fun and technical with switchbacks, one short flattish section with fun rollers and challenging rutted ascending in some spots. On a clear day you can see Santa Catalina Island from the junction of new and old S.J. Trails. After making your way through a section of baby head rocks and crossing the creek, a fun variation is to take a right on the Viejo Tie trail on the way up. It is very tech in spots as it winds and switchbacks through seldom ridden terrain to meet up with a trail that goes down to the candy store. Turn left on this trail and climb back up to San Juan. Watch out for poison oak in this canyon and lots of other shady spots on the way up. Go right and continue up through a meadow and crossing the Old San Juan Trail. From here its a few more miles of climbing through oak groves and over loose rocky sections to the parking area at Blue Jay. From here it's a mix of speed, adrenaline and skill as you make your way back down. In some places you can see evidence of riders sliding down steep banks after missing corners. It is still very technical and sometimes uphill in this direction but fun and rewarding.
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5/1/1998
I have only ridden down this trail. This is possible by dropping a car at the Hot Tubs before driving the bikes to the top. Then, it's all downhill fun, with some technical switchbacks at the bottom.
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Trail Information

Cleveland National Forest
Nearby City
Cleveland National Forest
Parks
Cleveland National Forest 909-736-1811
Local Contacts
USGS Canada Gobernadora, Alberhill
Local Maps

Activity Feed

Oct 2018