San Juan Trail is a rugged mountain trail in the Cleveland National Forest, just east of San Juan Capistrano, California.
Trail Type: End-to-End
Trail Length: 11.6 miles
Trail Condition: Marginally Maintained
Dogs Allowed? Yes
Trail Activities: Hiking, Horseback Riding, Mountain Biking
This is one of the premiere mountain biking trails in Southern California, for intermediate and advance riders. It’s also open to horseback riding and is popular with hikers. Bring sunblock lot’s of water – it gets hot out there and shade is sparse.
This beautiful and challenging single-track trail is easily-accessible from Orange and Riverside Counties. A popular trail with mountain bikers, be prepared for a very strenuous ride as extreme exposure and brutal climbing through switchbacks for the first several miles means this trail is not for beginners.
For those adventurous enough to endure the climb, the views from the top make the effort well worth it. Hikers should be cautioned that the heavy biking use, particularly on weekends, may make the trail hazardous. Bikers are asked to keep a moderate pace downhill anticipating hiker use.
It should be noted that cell coverage is almost non-existent on the trail, and the 11 mile trip (one way) means that trail users should be prepared with extra supplies and water. On mild days, it is easily possible to go through 4 liters (1 gal) of water per person in less than two hours. Parking permits are required, and can be purchased locally.
Hike Difficulty: Difficult
Ride Difficulty: Difficult
Ride Duration: 4 hours
Forest Fire, Heat, Mountain Lions, Snakes
The lower trailhead is in Hot Spring Canyon 3/4 mile past the San Juan Fire Station. The upper trailhead is at Blue Jay Campground 4 miles north of the Ortega Highway on Long Canyon Road (33.651309, -117.455362). You can start from either -- it's less climbing if you start from the upper trailhead.
Trailhead Coordinates: 33.651309,-117.455362