Sycamore Canyon - Poway/Santee Trailhead - #SycamoreCanyon
Sycamore Canyon - Poway/Santee - San Diego County - #SycamoreCanyon
From the South
1) Take MISSION GORGE RD to CARLTON HILLS BLVD. NORTH on CARLTON HILLS to LAKE CANYON. LEFT on LAKE CANYON. RIGHT (north) on SETTLE to the last block, then LEFT (west) to STRATHMORE. RIGHT on STRATHMORE to BIRCHCREST. LEFT on BIRCHCREST to the dead end. This is a quiet residential neighborhood..SHHH! At the west end of Birchcrest is a locked gate. (the hole is at the left end of the fence. The developer says keep out, but mountain bikers are usually not bothered by the owner or the sheriff. Motorcycles or 4X4's will be asked to leave. Go north for apprx 5 miles to Poway. Trail signs are at each intersection. At Poway Trailhead, try going east to Martha's Grove for great downhill singletrack action!! Martha's trail leads back south in a loop to the main trail. TAKE WATER! + please respect the quiet neighborhood at the south end so the hole in the fence stays open. I double checked it 6/1/97. The trail's still open and a good ride for any skill level. Thomas Guide page 1231 A3
2) Take 52 to Mast Bl. in Santee and turn left. You will see a school on the right and hills on the left. The trail is on the left just before the first house, and just after the school parking. The trail begins just behind a white barricade Thomas Guide page 1231 A5
From the North. Exit Poway Rd. off the I 15 Frwy. Take Poway Road East to Garden Road. Follow Garden hang a right on Sycamore Canyon Rd. Follow this road to the end. (Turns into a dirt road for the last mile or so). The Gibbens Ranch gates opens at 8:00am. Thomas Guide page 1191 C7
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Trail Conditions
Santee Lakes to Sycamore Canyon - I call this section Santee Lakes or East Elliot. Begin at Mast Blvd. parking lot by the ball field just past the high school.
We've had a lot of rain lately so there are quite a few mud holes and the stream is flowing pretty good but less than a foot deep at crossings. Really green right now. There is a new trail that adds some climbing to this ride and will add about a half hour to your ride. Just after you go under the power lines and cross the wash, turn left as if you were heading up the steep fire road. 50 meters in, turn left on the singletrack that will follow the west side of the ridge. Soon the trail starts to switchback up to the top of the ridge and places you back on the fireroad. Continue up(north) and catch the well marked single track on the right. It loops around a peak to the road then immediately heads off to the right for some great downhill singletrack with a lot of tight hairpins. Follow this back down to the canyon trail that follows and crosses the stream.
a 46 year old Cross-Country Rider riding a Yeti 575
Posted on 03/01/08Alert moderators of this post
Restricted - Those signs are only for people to stay away from the powerline towners.

This ride is really getting nice and growing in after the Cedar fire did a number on the area a few years back.

Teh ride up to the and past the Lakes is fun and open, the ride then goes into nice single track (keep and eye out for a right turn off teh fire road to aviod a sandy fire road section and enter fun single track)

All the way up to the Poway side and down thru Martha's grove trail is a bit dry but in great shape.
protijy a 28 year old Downhiller riding a Indy Fab Beatsick from San Diego URL: Protijy
Posted on 08/02/07Alert moderators of this post

Sycamore/Santee entrance - I noticed a "Restricted Access" sign at the trailhead of the Santee entrance (Medina). I haven't seen any official notice from SDMBA or anywhere online. Does anyone know the official status on this side of the trail. Is the Poway entrance still open? How far down can you go?
Mostro a Cross-Country Rider riding a Giant NRS from San Diego
Posted on 02/28/07Alert moderators of this post
Riverbed Ride - As of 01/15/05 the southern entrance of the park is closed until it dries out.

I've never used the Medina access and didn't know what to expect. I'm sure it used to be great, but this time it was *very*, *very*, muddy and wet. I had to wade across the creek at least 4 times :) Long stretches of the trail, if you can see it, are along sandy creek deposits. Everything was green and growing like crazy.

But it was still fun, got completely soaked and coated with mud, and I think I put a years worth of wear on my chain. But when I got back the jeep, I was tired but smiling.

Look forward to doing it again after it drys out and the trail gets smoother. I ride with one arm so the round cobbles on the trail make it hard for me.
Ride rating: Intermediate
Ride distance: ??? Elevation change: Small
Pegmatite a 41 year old Die-hard Enthusiast riding a Specialized FSR Comp from Solana Beach E-mail:this user
Posted on 01/20/05Alert moderators of this post

Sycamore Canyon - Rode the canyon this moring it's still a blast. Rode from WH high school parking lot to the top and back. Makes it about 16 miles but I could tell today, because I lost my bike computer along the way. So if you find it let me know and maybe we will meet on the trail some day and I can get it back. The trail maintenance crews who did the work on the trails to get them reopened did an outstanding job it's very much appreceated. The Midnight Riders thank you.
Ride rating: Novice
Ride distance: 16miles Elevation change:
Singletrack=70% Dirt Road=10% Truck Trail=20%
Smokin Scott a 42 year old Die-hard Enthusiast riding a Specialized Enduro from El Cajon E-mail:this user
Posted on 12/11/04Alert moderators of this post
One Sweet Ride!!! - I've ridden here a hundred times or more but for some reason last Sunday was the best!!!

Started out from West Hills HS instead of bothering the residents on Medina. The trail going into the canyon is pretty much as it always is until you get by the upper Santee Lakes where you can see water running through the stream that runs through the canyon. I haven't seen water in that stream in years.

Everything is so green and the wild flowers are in full bloom. Once I got past the Lakes and into the canyon the stream crossings begin. The trail and the stream cross each other eight or ten times. I actually wasn't counting cause I was having too much fun getting wet.

Passed the old ranch house, took the trail on the west side of the valley, then climbed up the road to the parking area at the end of Sycamore Canyon Road. By now I'm dried off and so is my chain. I lost all lubrication about three stream crossings ago and left the emergency supply at home. Lesson Learned!!

Most people turn around there but I climbed up the trail leading to Hwy 67. Took a short break. Looking down I thought to myself "I know I'm having a better time than the poor people in their cars crawling along the highway."

From there it's all a nice steady down hill cruise back to the parking lot and Martha's Grove trail head. This has always been one of my favorite trails around and on this ride it seemed to be more fun than any other time. After the short climb at the beginning of Martha's, (my chain is screaming at me now), comes one of the sweetest singletrack downhill rides there is. Once you drop into the trees it flattens out a little but twists, turns and a few roller coaster sections keep the fun meter pegged.

Right where the trail comes out by the old windmill I almost ran right over a 3 1/2 foot Rattlesnake who was taking his sweet time crossing the trail. Where's my camera when I need it? Back at the house with my chain lube, where else?!

Well when I started crossing the stream on my way back out of the canyon the chain stopped cussing at me as long as it stayed wet. I'm sure it's going to need a lot of attention to get back to a ridable condition. 20 miles clicked over as I got back to my truck and was sorry the ride was over. That was a great ride. I can't wait till next weekend when I'll have time to do it again!!

Ed, hurry up and kick some ass over there so you can come back home and ride!!

Ride rating: Intermediate
Ride distance: 20 sweeeet miles. Elevation change: Not Much
Singletrack=35% Dirt Road=65%
Sailor a 40 year old Weekend Warrior riding a GT LTS from San Diego
Posted on 03/25/03Alert moderators of this post

Sycamore SplishSplash - The trail is firm, but now that the ground is saturated, the low
spots and old streams are now full. Some up to 12 inches
deep. Whoa. real fun....too fun. Only the first 200 yards off
Medina is the ground a quagmire. The area is VERY green &
wild flowers are abundant. This is ripe time for a ride!

Ride rating: Novice
Ride distance: 14 miles Elevation change: ???
mtbchip a 45 year old Cross-Country Rider riding a an olde fashioned urt bike. YA-WHOO from San Diego E-mail:this user
Posted on 03/21/03Alert moderators of this post

Martha's Grove - This is a pretty easy but good ride. Once you get to the top there's a pretty good downhill. Overall good trail to ride.
Ride rating: Intermediate
Singletrack=50% Dirt Road=100%
Clinton Popp a 21 year old Weekend Warrior riding a Specialized from El Cajon
Posted on 12/08/02 Alert moderators of this post
Sycamore Canyon/Martha's Grove - Couldn't ask for a better day. Just enough rain yesterday to eliminate the dust and create a few water holes. Traction was better than it's been all summer.

Started the ride at West Hills High School and rode into the valley on the dirt road just south of Santee Lakes. Past the lakes and into the canyon I came across a couple deer. What a sight!! Keeping to the south side of the canyon past the old barn and ranch house is the best ride through this part of the canyon. Then climb the road up to the parking lot and Martha's Grove trail head.

The upper part of Martha's Grove trail has been loose and rutted all summer, especialy on the down hill parts where some riders skid down the hill instead of feathering their brakes. Today the loose stuff was gone and I cleaned the entire trail, even the steep drop over the rocks. Martha's is one of the sweetest single tracks around. It's just too bad it isn't longer.
Ride rating: Intermediate
Ride distance: 17 miles Elevation change:
Singletrack=50% Dirt Road=50%
Rick a 40 year old Weekend Warrior riding a GT LTS from San Diego E-mail:this user
Posted on 09/07/02 Alert moderators of this post

Sycamore Canyon - Rode this trail Saturday 6/8/02. From the south take the 125 North to 52 West and exit at Mast Blvd. Go right (east) on Mast to Medina. Turn left on Medina and go all the way to the end of the street. Park on the left in the residential area. The trail starts here. Follow the single track North for about 5 miles to the Ranch House. At the Ranch House continue north up the dirt road to the Martha's Grove parking lot. Then take the sigle track on out of the parking lot up and to the east. This is a great technical trail that you are sure to love. The trail ends back at the dirt road near the Ranch House. For a little extra single track from this point take the single track trail in front of you. This trail has a small climb and a pretty good downhill and will dump you out on the trail back the the car. Happy Trails
Ride rating: Intermediate
Ride distance: 14 Elevation change: 200
Singletrack=75% Dirt Road=25%
Jim Stanley a 41 year old Weekend Warrior riding a Tomac Ti from Spring Valley E-mail:this user
Posted on 06/10/02 Alert moderators of this post
Princess Joanne Trailhead - We left from the top of Princess Joanne, which is at the end of Magnolia in Santee. Now is the perfect time to go. All the wild flowers are full growth (4-6ft) and full bloom. We will not see the blooms for another year. The creeks still have water. If you ride through Gooden Ranch be respectful of the ranger's residence. We spoke to him, he is very cool, but this is his home. Not a bad backyard, huh? We ride this about once per week. This time we took the trail East from the windmill. It goes to the top on a fire road. At the southern "staging area" the trail leaves from the South end. You can see Lakeside to the South East from here. The trail is very rocky and in parts very technical. It is shorter, but harder and steeper than the "Martha's Grove" section. At one point there is a fork. If you go left you will stay on the ridge all the way to Lakeside. We went right. The trail exit puts you back into the Santee part of the park about 100 yards South of the split rail fence. Tomorrow we are going to ride Martha's Grove and this trail.
Ride rating: Advanced
Ride distance: miles 14-16 Elevation change: 1000 twice
Singletrack=50% Dirt Road=50%
Joker a 32 year old Cross-Country Rider riding a Gary Fisher Kai-Tai from Santee E-mail:this user
Posted on 04/25/01 Alert moderators of this post
sycamore canyon - I rode on sunday from the school and there were no problems! So, 18 miles is still the distence. A new trailhead (for me) is at Princess Johann. Park at Woodglen Vista Park and ride north on Ironwood then left at P. Johann. Trailhead is to the north some yards beyond the barrier. Head north to the motorcycle pit and it should start to look familiar. It cuts about 6 miles off the regular.
Ride rating: Intermediate
voodoochildS.D. a Cross-Country Rider
Posted on 01/17/00 Alert moderators of this post
Sycamore canyon - Possible new trailhead north of the powerlines (Not on the developers land or federal property). the ride should still be about 18 miles. haven't ridden it yet but I will on the 31st.
Posted on 12/25/99 Alert moderators of this post
sycamore canyon - the marines have been in the canyon(under the powerlines)giving out warnings for trespassing on
Government property. They were not going to be clear on their juristiction. they said something about a 45 degree angle from the top of the powerlines on either side is federal land?? THE RIDE WAS GREAT!
p.s. if they catch you a second time...blah,blah,blah
they did ask for I.D. and it looked like they noted distinguishing marks(tatoos/earrings)
Ride rating: Advanced
Ride distance: 18 miles Elevation change: 100 ft?
Singletrack=80% Dirt Road=5% Truck Trail=15%
voodoochildS.D. a 30 year old Cross-Country Rider riding a voodoo from s.d.
Posted on 12/18/99 Alert moderators of this post
I've ridden this trail for awhile. On my way up the backside of the trail to Martha's yesterday a rider
yells at me that I'm going the wrong way on a ONE WAY
trail. That's bullshit!!! Some of the locals from east county have apparently turned this into a short
loop that begins from the 67 entrance. Rumor has it that a local bikeshop may be the culprit that is trying to turn this into a oneway trail.I've been
mountainbiking over a decade in the local canyons.
As a creature of habit, I prefer the backside climb and
will continue to do so. When oneway signs are posted
I know it will be time to find new trails. I refuse to be directed. Mountainbiking was once a sport where
the sense of adventure was as important as the exercise. Too bad the trails are being overrun by drones that need to have arrows pointing out their path. As for the rest of us....LET'S RIDE!!!!!
Ride rating: Intermediate
Ride distance: 15 miles Elevation change:
El Jefe a Cross-Country Rider riding a Intense Tracer
Posted on 10/06/99 Alert moderators of this post
SYCAMORE CANYON (MARTHA'S) - Sycamore Canyon/(Martha's) Can also be reached by exiting HWY 52 at Mast, go left, continue past the high school, then turn left on MEDINA. take Medina until it ends (there is a white split rail fence and a grey block wall on the left. There are homes on the right.(One of the residents is a rider) Please have some respect for the people whom live here. the trail starts here Between the wall and the fence there is a moderately steep but very short climb(realy it is the way to get to the trail form the street. The trail to Sycamore Canyon is to the right(East). Follow the trail along behind the backyards of houses for a short distance. Santee lakes will be visable on your right after you have past the houses. This trail is considerably more challanging than the southside, hole in the fence way. Also this way you are not tresspassing. BE AWARE THAT THE FANITA RANCH HOUSING DEVELOPMENT IS SOON TO BECOME A REALITY,AND THE FACE OF THIS RIDE IS DUE TO CHANGE DRASTICALLY IN THE FUTURE. RIDE RESPONSIBLY
Ride rating: Novice
Singletrack=35% Truck Trail=65%
RICKORAMA a 36 year old Die-hard Enthusiast riding a SPECIALIZED FSR. from SAN DIEGO E-mail:this user
Posted on 09/13/99 Alert moderators of this post
Syamore Cyn Santee/Poway - Just rode, 9/2/98. Yes it is hot now, I rode in th eearly morning. I'm writing this to let everybody that used to ride ther know that the entrance from Birchcrest Rd. has been refenced with a bigger fence, and that the homeowner on the west side of Strathmore 2nd north from corner of Ganley & Strathmore is very HOSTILE and claims to have the authority to "turn in any riders trespassing! He said he video taped us riding and violting the "land". We must collect our wits, contact the owner/developer and encourage, plead, influence thru diplomacy (otherwise we lose trail) to keep a narrow corridor open for riders that begin the ride in Santee and roundtrip it to Hwy67 and back. Help if you can, this is one of the lovlyest, nicest, nature filled ride....we must work together to keep our trail open. If it is MARTHAS that the anal are worried about, then stay off, but there is plenty of fine dirt to ride on and share with all!!
Chip Brent a 40 year old Cross-Country Rider riding a Catamount MFS w/Z-2 Bomber! from San Diego, CA E-mail:this user
Posted on 09/2/98 Alert moderators of this post
Sycamore Canyon - Well all of the signs that had Martha's Grove and the other singlettracks in this area marked as OPEN were removed over the Winter. No doubt in part because of all of the screaming of the SDMBA that these trails are closed (See Below). Even so there is a constant stream of bikes on these trails as no reasonable person would think them closed. With friends like that...
Dirt Road=100%
Moterhead a 28 year old Cross-Country Rider riding a Truth from Poway
Posted on 06/21/98 Alert moderators of this post
Sycamore Canyon - The Sycamore Canyon/Fanita Ranch area is proposed for a 3,000 unit subdivision being opposed by Santee residents. Your comments to the City of Santee and help spreading the word could prevent the loss of this trail. This area is the heart of the "multiple species preserve" - there are conservation funds available and there is an "Open Space Preserve Alternative" in the EIR.
Fanita Ranch Draft EIR at:
Also see our sites: PWS Website:
Santee Traffic Relief Website:
Or contact Van at 258-7929
Posted on 05/14/98 Alert moderators of this post
Trails CLOSED to bikes - Generally, singletrack trail at Sycamore Canyon, including Martha's Grove, is CLOSED to bikes. Riding on closed trails does little more than hamper our efforts to open them. And don't be trespassing through any holes in any fences for god's sake.
San Diego Mountain Biking Association
Posted on 09/3/97 Alert moderators of this post
- This trail goes along Santee lakes and can be seen from the bridge going over Santee Lakes. The trail has two bigger hills you turn off near the top on both. A ways after the first you come to a fork in the trail make a right then a left you will cross a stream with a bunch of rocks not usually water and climb the second hill. After a while you come to the end of Santee Lakes turn right and you are in Sycamore Canyon. There are several ways to make this trail into a loop. The first and easiest is to go down the other side of Santee Lakes. at the end hop the fence or take one of the ways out along the left side. Look for streets that dead end against the fence along the left of the trail. For the rest continue a little ways take the second trail to the right and climb the trail. Continue straight until see a big rock cliff to the left.then there are several ways down.A easy way is to stay along the top of the hill this trail descends for a while then levels off. Then there are two ways to go. turn down then turn right you cross another trail. Go straight there is a short singletrack that ends on a street. Turn up toward the dirt go up and continue and you come to the road turn right on the first or second right both work. Continue turn left if street T's. you come to a stop make a right the next stop make a right up at the top make a left the stop light ahead is mast. Turn right to get back sorry I don't remember the street names I'll put them in later. Another way is to continue to the very top this trail harder and you can also get to it by turning off Mast toward Stumps sorry I don't remember the street name after a while there will be trails going down to Santee Lakes..A harder way is to turn down the steeper trail watch out about half way down there are some big ruts. Once at the bottom go straight till you get to the houses turn up and climb and follow the houses At the top there is a short flat part before another climb there is a trail that crosses (this is where the other trail crosses) go left for a little single track, continue you can go left, or up to the top and find a downhill to the way out by Santee Lakes.
Singletrack=2% Dirt Road=83% Paved Path=15%
a 16 year old Die-hard Enthusiast riding a Trek 7000 from Santee CA E-mail:this user
Posted on 07/17/97 Alert moderators of this post
Sycamore Cyn/Martha's Grove Loop - Good training, wide trails, some water crossing. semi-technical downhill to Martha's grove. Great scenery! One to two hour ride. Also a horse trail.
Singletrack=15% Dirt Road=85%
Jerry Tucker a 42 year old Die-hard Enthusiast riding a TREK 8000SHX from Santee E-mail:this user
Posted on 07/17/97 Alert moderators of this post
Gibbens Ranch. - Many different loops available at this preserve. Some can even be ridden by less experienced riders. Be prepared for a steep hill on the return trip. The area is semi arrid so it does get very hot bring plenty of water. There are a few creeks to crash through if you like that sort of thing. If you ride the trail to Santee lakes the round trip distance is 8 miles.
Singletrack=75% Dirt Road=25%
Tom Johnson a 33 year old Weekend Warrior riding a Motiv/Stonegrinder with upgrades, from Poway, CA E-mail:this user
Posted on 07/17/97 Alert moderators of this post ~ your local mountain bike site since 1996. - Terms Of Use - Site Map
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