February 23, 2018

CA: Hopalong Cassidy & Art Smith

I've been riding with Evan for over six years now, he often comes over to AZ to hit the goods. He always extends an invite for me to head over to SoCal for some riding, but for some reason it had never really happened. That finally changed this past weekend. I had a 3+ day hall pass and I knew Evan would come up with a few good routes.

The forecast changed things up slightly, but we met at a very windy/cold campsite high above the Inland Empire as planned.
This would be our staging point for two days.
We debated a bit about starting a campfire...then it began to snow. It was getting late, so I opted to crash in my car out of the wind.
We woke to a light dusting of snow. It was a tad blustery!!

Down in Palm Desert and one breakfast burrito later, we started up the Hopalong Cassidy trail.

There was an RC track at the trailhead too. I think we'll go ride instead.

Up we go. The trail was a beautiful bench cut with mostly friendly climbing grades.

There were a few switchback challenges along the way.

I love well contoured singletrack. Rad!!

The trail had some downhill bits too.

The hikers were out in force. Almost all of them were making the trek to the cross on the hill and most were simply amazed that we were riding the trail.

Keep an eye peeled for a lighted cross above Palm Desert next time you're in town.
So far our pace had been slow. Combine the steady climbing with a ton of stops to let hikers pass by and it was bound to be a slow start. Evan pointed out the next portion of the route: 'See those steep switchbacks over there? We'll go up those, then over the next ridge, drop down and do another steep HAB'. Sounds like my kind of fun.
But first, there was fine singletrack.

Those qualify as steep switchbacks.

The trail then wound it's way around a lush green golf course.

We dodged boulders and million dollar homes along the way.

Next batch of HAB.

The payoff? More sweet high mountain singletrack. If you refuse to go on rides with HAB, you miss some serious shit.
The Chuparosa passed the climbing tests. Photo by Evan.

Evan getting his flow on.

Snack break and a chance to gawk at our next HAB straight ahead.
Let's get to it. Photo by Evan.

Switchback attack!!

Evan assumes the position once more.

Finally. We reach the end of Hopalong Cassidy and begin the Art Smith trail.
I had actually heard of the Art Smith trail and was excited to ride it. The climbing ensued, but at a more casual grade.
Jaw dropping terrain.

The Chuparosa was soaking up the rock hits.

Evan riding into a postcard.

There were a few isolated pockets of palms heading up the canyon.

Every so often the view would open up and reveal the sprawling urban life below.

It's much more peaceful up here.

This sand wash was no match for the Chuparosa as it was packed down nicely.

Huge metal sign at the end. What a fun trail.

Evan relaxing at Mike's Desert Oasis.
We began our descent to the valley floor as the light turned to late afternoon. Golden Hour was approaching and is quite possibly the best time to ride.
I'd love to see this area in bloom.

Occasional bits of chunk thrown in.

The valley crept closer as the shadows took hold.

Layers on top of mountainous layers.

Not a whole bunch of margin for error here.

Now it's an obstacle course!!

The final runout.

What were the odds??
This route was a lot of work, but each time the payoff was worth the effort. Thanks for the cool tour, Evan.

We found a great Mexican restaurant and each easily polished off a plate of food. A quick car retrieval and we were headed back up the mountain to camp. On deck for the next day: Palm Canyon Epic.

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