Winter Mountain Biking in Southern California

We’re pretty lucky in Southern California to have nearly year-round mountain biking opportunities, but extreme weather conditions like major rain storms and snow do happen.   So where can you ride?

Where You Can’t Ride After it Rains

Most county and state parks are closed following any measurable amount of rain for three days.  XEN MTB always checks with park websites for open status before we go on rides.  When no information is posted, we’ll call the ranger in each location first.

Where You Shouldn’t Ride After it Rains

Your tour operator, Mark Warrick, has been riding the trails of Southern California for 20 years.  He knows which trails hold up well to water and which turn into a sticky, muddy mess even days after rain.  The soil in our area is predominantly clay.  That type of soil soaks up water like a sponge and hangs onto it until a good amount of sun and wind dry it out.   Even where legal, XEN MTB’s policy is to avoid areas like this for at least three days after rain.  Riding on muddy trails causes ruts that become dangerous when  they dry.

Frozen Laguna Lake

So Where Can I Ride?

In the Desert

Palm Canyon, close to Palm Springs holds up well after rain.  The most popular route in that area (the Palm Canyon EPIC) is an expert level ride, but there are are options for intermediate level riders too.

In the Lower Mountains

There are plenty of lower mountain areas (in the range of 2-4 thousand feet) which are outside state and county boundaries.  Some of those rides, like the San Juan Trail, shed water quite well after rain.  There are also a few trails in the Mt Wilson area that have similar terrain.

In Mountains with Light Snow Levels

Some of our most memorable rides have been in the snow.  To be clear, we’re not talking about riding in several feet of snow where only a fat tire bike with studded tires would be suitable.   Rather, we mean in certain areas where the snow doesn’t usually fall but may have a few inches of snow on the trails.  Places like Noble Canyon open up opportunities for “dry snow rides” – rides where snow is present, but not so thick that you can’t ride through it.   

It’s no wonder that so many people come to California during the winter.   After all, California is known for our  occasional 72 degree  blue sky winter days.  But of course, you really should sit out the rides during rain and snow storms.  You can trust XEN MTB will craft a safe as possible and enjoyable winter riding experience while you visit Southern California.  

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