Quantcast
4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs

Cycle-tour the back roads of Santa Ysabel and Mesa Grande.

At an elevation of over 3000 feet, the rolling upland known as Mesa Grande is more reminiscent of Central California's coast ranges than San Diego County's typical rock-ribbed foothills. Through the heart of Mesa Grande runs a meandering country road serving only the light traffic of local residents and a few tourists off the beaten path. By any standard, it's one of Southern California's finest paved roads for bicycle touring.

The tiny but growing crossroads community of Santa Ysabel -- long known for its popular Dudley's Bakery -- is a good starting point for the 22-mile loop route (up Highway 79 and back through Mesa Grande) described here. The traffic of backcountry residents and tourists has increased somewhat in recent years, so an early-morning start will help you elude as much as possible some fast-moving cars on Highway 79.

Start by heading north on Highway 79 for 7 miles, up to a gentle summit halfway, and down the other side. On the long, downhill run, Lake Henshaw and the Palomar Observatory's 200-inch telescope dome come into view ahead. A blanket of morning fog often covers the lake until an hour or so after sunrise.

At the bottom of the grade, turn left on Highway 76. After another 2 miles, go left at Mesa Grande Road. You now leave virtually all traffic behind and begin to tackle a wickedly steep uphill grade. Only the strongest riders will remain on the pedals during the next 1.5 curvy miles. There's no shame in walking your bike up the steepest parts. Glance back at the immense sunken plain behind you, with the currently contracted Lake Henshaw at its west end. The plain, known as Valle de San Jose, owes its depressed elevation to earth movements along the Elsinore Fault.

After topping out, Mesa Grande Road rolls generally southward over oak woods and grassy vales. You pass hillsides where gem-quality tourmaline, beryl, garnet, and topaz have been mined for more than a century. You cross Indian reservation lands, with nary a car in sight, and finally pitch downward to an intersection with Highway 79. The Santa Ysabel Mission, a restored version of the original asistencia, or sub-mission, established here in 1818 by the San Diego mission, lies across the road.

Use Highway 79 to return to Santa Ysabel. Upon arrival, indulge your appetite for breakfast, fresh-baked bread, or apple pie at one of the eating establishments there.

Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all

Previous article

Nathan Fletcher's viral propaganda push

County supervisor to pack staff with video maker, social media star
Next Article

Corbin’s Q’s Scrumptiously SLO barbecue

Dee-Lish. I mean, an exceptional combo of tastes.

At an elevation of over 3000 feet, the rolling upland known as Mesa Grande is more reminiscent of Central California's coast ranges than San Diego County's typical rock-ribbed foothills. Through the heart of Mesa Grande runs a meandering country road serving only the light traffic of local residents and a few tourists off the beaten path. By any standard, it's one of Southern California's finest paved roads for bicycle touring.

The tiny but growing crossroads community of Santa Ysabel -- long known for its popular Dudley's Bakery -- is a good starting point for the 22-mile loop route (up Highway 79 and back through Mesa Grande) described here. The traffic of backcountry residents and tourists has increased somewhat in recent years, so an early-morning start will help you elude as much as possible some fast-moving cars on Highway 79.

Start by heading north on Highway 79 for 7 miles, up to a gentle summit halfway, and down the other side. On the long, downhill run, Lake Henshaw and the Palomar Observatory's 200-inch telescope dome come into view ahead. A blanket of morning fog often covers the lake until an hour or so after sunrise.

At the bottom of the grade, turn left on Highway 76. After another 2 miles, go left at Mesa Grande Road. You now leave virtually all traffic behind and begin to tackle a wickedly steep uphill grade. Only the strongest riders will remain on the pedals during the next 1.5 curvy miles. There's no shame in walking your bike up the steepest parts. Glance back at the immense sunken plain behind you, with the currently contracted Lake Henshaw at its west end. The plain, known as Valle de San Jose, owes its depressed elevation to earth movements along the Elsinore Fault.

After topping out, Mesa Grande Road rolls generally southward over oak woods and grassy vales. You pass hillsides where gem-quality tourmaline, beryl, garnet, and topaz have been mined for more than a century. You cross Indian reservation lands, with nary a car in sight, and finally pitch downward to an intersection with Highway 79. The Santa Ysabel Mission, a restored version of the original asistencia, or sub-mission, established here in 1818 by the San Diego mission, lies across the road.

Use Highway 79 to return to Santa Ysabel. Upon arrival, indulge your appetite for breakfast, fresh-baked bread, or apple pie at one of the eating establishments there.

Sponsored
Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all
Previous article

The Truth: no better suited than Catherine Deneuve

Hers truly is an imitation of life.
Next Article

What opera is closest to California redwoods?

Tough competing with the English and Austrians
Comments
0

Be the first to leave a comment.

Sign in to comment

Sign in

Art Reviews — W.S. Di Piero's eye on exhibits Ask a Hipster — Advice you didn't know you needed Best Buys — San Diego shopping Big Screen — Movie commentary Blurt — Music's inside track Booze News — San Diego spirits City Lights — News and politics Classical Music — Immortal beauty Classifieds — Free and easy Cover Stories — Front-page features Excerpts — Literary and spiritual excerpts Famous Former Neighbors — Next-door celebs Feast! — Food & drink reviews Feature Stories — Local news & stories From the Archives — Spotlight on the past Golden Dreams — Talk of the town Here's the Deal — Chad Deal's watering holes Just Announced — The scoop on shows Letters — Our inbox [email protected] — Local movie buffs share favorites Movie Reviews — Our critics' picks and pans Musician Interviews — Up close with local artists Neighborhood News from Stringers — Hyperlocal news News Ticker — News & politics Obermeyer — San Diego politics illustrated Of Note — Concert picks Out & About — What's Happening Overheard in San Diego — Eavesdropping illustrated Poetry — The old and the new Pour Over — Grab a cup Reader Travel — Travel section built by travelers Reading — The hunt for intellectuals Roam-O-Rama — SoCal's best hiking/biking trails San Diego Beer News — Inside San Diego suds SD on the QT — Almost factual news Set 'em Up Joe — Bartenders' drink recipes Sheep and Goats — Places of worship Special Issues — The best of Sports — Athletics without gush Street Style — San Diego streets have style Suit Up — Fashion tips for dudes Theater Reviews — Local productions Theater antireviews — Narrow your search Tin Fork — Silver spoon alternative Under the Radar — Matt Potter's undercover work Unforgettable — Long-ago San Diego Unreal Estate — San Diego's priciest pads Waterfront — All things ocean Your Week — Daily event picks
4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
Close