From the top of Aliso and Wood Canyons Wilderness Parks, you can look down on Laguna’s beaches, some of the most beautiful in Southern California. Then you have the option to ride your back straight down the hill through the last native coastal chaparral in Orange County.
Residents of the OC are quite lucky to have access to mountain biking in this landscape of sage, cholla, sycamores, coyote bush, bunch grass and the occasional bobcat. Unfortunately, many of the area’s trails in the Aliso Canyon Wilderness Park are fall-line legacy trails, created before the open space was preserved for the public (imagine a green necklace around Orange County). These trails are certainly appealing to some downhill-oriented riders, but since Laguna wants to become an international mountain biking destination, they need to step up their game with more beginner- and intermediate-oriented trails that appeal to new and visiting riders.
As part of our recent Trail Care Crew visit to Laguna Beach, we partnered with Hans Rey, the Laguna Canyon Foundation, Share (the local mountain bike advocacy organization), and other area riders to assess many of the existing legacy trails and provide feedback on how to make the trails more sustainable while at times maintaining their gravity-oriented character. After our Trailbuilding School, local riders expressed their desire to work with land managers to decommission some of their unsustainable fall-line trails and create fun, flowy, sustainable singletrack as part of a larger system of multi-use, multi-skill trails. This two-way partnership between land managers and riders is critical to success.
Therefore, the other key part of our visit focused on bringing together the mountain bike community to help chart a course toward this better riding for all types of mountain bikers. We hosted a Club Care presentation and a screening of the movie Pedal Driven that brought together local bike industry leaders from Crank Brothers and SDG Components; pro mountain bikers like Hans Rey, Brian Lopes, and Richie Schley; club leaders from Share; and leadership from the Laguna Canyon Foundation. Just the fact that these guys all broke bread together was enough to get the movement started.
If you haven’t yet screened Pedal Driven for your club or community, but want to kick-start a new energy around trail advocacy, it’s a great tool to do so.
From the 70 TCC visits we’ve had in two years, Laguna is probably the best-suited to build a world-class mountain bike destination: stunning terrain and scenery, open space, industry leaders, pro riders, a sustainable club, willing partners in local land managers, and a passionate community of mountain bike advocates. It’s just a matter of channeling all of that positive opportunity into a cohesive, long-term movement, which Laguna is on the verge of doing.
Thanks to Hans Rey, Crank Brothers, and the Laguna Canyon Foundation for hosting a productive and fun weekend. We can’t wait to come back and ride what you’re going to create!