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Big Sycamore Canyon

Big Sycamore Canyon


Page Type: Trail

Location: California, United States, North America

Lat/Lon: 34.10000°N / 119°W

Trail Type: Cross Country

County: Ventura

Technical Difficulty: Easy

Aerobic Difficulty: Medium

Layout: Lollipop

Elevation Gain: 2400 ft / 732 m

Length: 14.0 Mi / 22.5 Km

Route Quality: 
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Page By: Stabone33

Created/Edited: Oct 10, 2007 / Jan 16, 2008

Object ID: 262094

Hits: 5462 

Page Score: 70.83%  - 1 Votes 

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Great workout, fast flowing double and singletrack - many options!

Trail Description

Honestly, I haven't ridden the trail in a couple years, so this is from memory...please post updates if you have them! This was my absolute favorite trail when I lived in LA. The trail starts out at PCH and begins climbing gently for several miles up the Big Sycamore Canyon bottom on a wide, heavily-used dirt road. Watch for hikers, horses, and other bikers, as well as the occasional park vehicle. The ascent crosses the creek several times...and they may be quite deep for several days after hard winter rains. Avoid the area after winter rains as it's very susceptible to rutting. Many options exist, but I preferred to ride as far as I could up the dirt road until it petered out about 4 miles in. Looking to your left, the road continues up a canyon, but about 10 yards along this branch, a narrow, sidehill-hugging rocky singletrack arcs uphill to the right along a gully. This tops out on the remnants of a paved road, Ranch Center Road. Turn left at the road and ride a couple hundred yards or so to an old water tank, turn right, then blast downhill, careful to brake for the sharp left halfway down. This takes you to an old trailer/outbuilding once used by the park service. Turn left here and ride along a double track that turns into fun, swoopy singletrack through an oak-shaded bottom along and across a creek bed (watch for poison oak and rattlesnakes). This may or may not be Wood Canyon Road. At about the 5 mile point, you'll come to a small trail marker for the Guadalasca Trail, or something along those lines -- this will be a sharp right onto narrow, twisty singletrack that climbs out of the oak bottoms into scrub after a few hundred yards. At this point, you can see your high point -- and it seems really, really far away and well above you. Ride another 100 yards and look left for the singletrack that dives down across a creek bed and begins climbing to the ridge. Go Zen and start pedaling - Google Earth shows 10 switchbacks or so. You'll top out on a fire road at mile 7.5 or 8 or so, but the steepest part is the last 300 yards to a small saddle that offers great views of the Pacific on one side and all the way to Mt Wilson and the Angeles Crest on clear days in the other. Now bomb down the swoopy fire road for about .5 miles to a junction with another dirt road, and look left just past the junction for another singletrack. This is the payback - more fun, intermediate downhill that takes you back to Big Sycamore Canyon Rd. Turn right and enjoy the breezy cool down back to PCH.

Getting There

From LA: I-10 W until it ends at PCH; follow PCH north for about an hour to Big Sycamore Canyon State Park. Pay the fee to park inside the park (please...it helps maintain these trails).

From Ventura, take 101 South and exit at PCH, follow it south for 15 minutes or so to BSCSP.

When to Bike

Year-round. Avoid the area for a couple days after rain storms. Equestrians don't care about the mud and trail destruction, and will ride when it's soft "for the horses." Be a good trail steward and avoid the mud...wait a few days for the mud to firm up and the creeks to drop a little, then head out and help buff it up. Temperature differences between the start and the climb up Guadalasca can be as much as 20-30 degrees in the summer (hotter inland), so be prepared. Marine layer can roll in and out at any time during spring and fall, which can make the last dash out on BSC Rd cold and possibly dangerous due to reduced visibility.