Ever been driving down the highway, looked at some mountains and wondered what it’d be like to explore them by motorcycle? My friend Alex (pictured here showing off his freshly-learned Texas Tornado Boot Camp skills) and I have. But, because we’re from the East Coast, we’ve rarely had the opportunity. Now that we’re in SoCal, all we needed was a couple Yamaha WR250Rs and an afternoon off work. We didn’t know where we were going, but we found a pretty good trail that you might enjoy too.
Now, just because we’re in Biketopia, doesn’t meant that we can just point ourselves at some mountains and get riding. While all those mountains are filled with fire roads and trails, a lot of them are in a permanent state of closure due to fire damage, erosion or hippie infestations. There’s also not a good central resource for monitoring which trails are open or closed other than word of mouth or by trawling ADVRider.
Acting on less than complete information, we initially headed for San Bernadino Canyon, only to discover that all the trails off it are closed. Talking to a Ranger, we learned that Lytle Creek Canyon, just 20 or 30 miles away should be open. We also learned that California Rangers assume east coasters are a couple of pansies who are going to get eaten by rattlesnakes the second we venture outside a shopping mall.
So, an hour later, there we are contemplating dragging the WRs under the gate closing off the fire trail at the end of Lytle Creek Canyon when another Ranger, even less impressed with kids on dirt bikes, shows up. After making it exceptionally clear that we weren’t welcome on his turf, he escorted us back down the road.
Then, just before giving up and hopping back on the highway, we lost the Ranger and found an open gate. Better than nothing, right? Turns out is was much more than that.
If you’re looking for the trail yourself, it’s on the right as you enter the Canyon from the 15. If memory serves, it’s just after the first pull-off on the left. Regardless, look for a trail and an open gate. After a short run straight in, the trail forks in two. To the right, it takes you up to a couple electricity towers and through some relatively challenging climbs or, if you’re on the way back down, descents. To the left, it’ll run you up over the ridge and back down to the 215, by Glen Helen, on the other side.
Switchback after switchback after switchback, the majority of which are more sand than rocks and relatively easy, unless you decide to haul ass sideways like Alex. The views are good too, taking in the 15, 215 and San Bernadino and Fontucky below you. You can see all the way out to the ocean and Orange County on a clear day like last Friday.
I’m relatively terrible at dirt riding, but all the easy, sandy corners made practicing backing it in pretty easy for me. If I keep spending three day weekends off road, it shouldn’t just be a case of practicing before too long either.
On a Friday at least, we were the only two vehicles on the trail. It appears fairly lightly travelled compared to other area dual sport destinations like Silverardo Canyon in the OC. Over Silverado, I’d give Lytle Ridge the nod for surface, views and isolation, but it is a further trek from civilization.
Down the east side of the ridge and there’s a gas station just at the end that stocks Monster Rehab. There’s something imminently satisfying about ripping down a trail, pulling back onto pavement covered head to toe in dirt, then fading back into mundane traffic as your ride home.