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Horned Lizzard to Whiptail Loop

Intermediate/Difficult
 3.8 (10) RECOMMENDED ROUTE

A quick ride in La Costa Preserve with an easy warm up from the southwest side.


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Map Key

5.4

Miles

8.7

KM

95%

Singletrack

1,023' 312 m

High

387' 118 m

Low

730' 222 m

Up

729' 222 m

Down

5%

Avg Grade (3°)

15%

Max Grade (9°)

Dogs Off-leash

E-Bikes Not Allowed

These trails are in the La Costa Habitat Restoration Preserve area. Please stay on the designated trails so as not to disrupt the habitat. Multiple game trail offshoots, easy to cut trail. Nothing should be overgrown, thin/scrawny, look especially steep, or be 'hidden'.

Overview

This is a great 60 minute +/- after work/school lollipop ride on the west and south sides of Denk Mountain in the La Costa Habitat Preserve.

Park and access the trails at the trailhead signs near the top of Avenida Diestro Street. Stay left on the Diestro Connector ending with a mild climb to the Powerline Access Road (1 mile). Ride a couple hundred feet south on the road to the trailhead sign. Stay to the left to access Horned Lizard and climb to the top (2 miles). Descend the south side of the hill on Whiptail Loop Trail (2 miles).

Need to Know

This network of trails is in the La Costa Habitat Preserve. Please stay on the trails so as not to damage the surrounding habitat.

Description

This ride has a nice 1 mile warm-up around the back of the Circulo Sequoia neighborhood ending in a mild, straight climb to the the Powerline Access Road. The climb up Horned Lizard begins with a traverse along the west side of the hill before turning upwards though a series of switchbacks. It's rocky and rutted out in spots with a few short but steep sections that will challenge intermediate riders.

MTB etiquette asks that you please stay on the trails through the more difficult sections so as not to widen the trail around obstacles.

There is a shade structure and MTB repair station at the top. Take a break and enjoy the 360-degree views of the ocean, lagoon and San Diego North County. On clear days, you can see Downtown San Diego, La Jolla, Torrey Pines, Black Mountain, Palomar Mountain, and even Catalina and San Clemente Islands.

The descent on Whiptail Loop Trail starts out easy and gets progressively more difficult though the middle section of the trail. This trail was rutted out pretty badly during the heavy rains in 2016/17 making for some challenging turns and sharp rock gardens. The bottom third of the trail flows a bit more, allowing you to pick up your speed.

Stay to the right at the intersection of Copper Creek, and you'll finish with a short twisty climb back to the intersection of Horned Lizard and the Powerline Access Road.

Bomb down the Diestro Connector straightaway then take a cool down back the way you came.

History & Background

You pass a section of broken up grey rocks about half way up Horned Lizard. This is where a copper mine used to be.

Contacts

Shared By:

Kurt Davey with improvements by Nate Hughes and 1 other

Trail Ratings

  3.8 from 10 votes

#2370

Overall
  3.8 from 10 votes
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3 Star
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Recommended Route Rankings

#299

in California

#2,370

Overall
33 Views Last Month
3,849 Since May 19, 2018
Intermediate/Difficult

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Photos

My new 20 year old bike worked great
Mar 21, 2021 near Lake Sa…, CA
Copper Creek Falls at end of Whiptail Loop
Oct 17, 2017 near Lake Sa…, CA
The view from the top is worth the climb.
May 27, 2017 near Lake Sa…, CA
Made it to the top!  First time ever on a bike.
Mar 21, 2021 near Lake Sa…, CA
Horned Lizard Rocky Descent
Sep 8, 2017 near Lake Sa…, CA
At the top! All downhill from here.
Sep 7, 2021 near Lake Sa…, CA

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Check-Ins

Jul 8, 2022
Douglas Rodriguez
May 28, 2022
Douglas Rodriguez
May 3, 2022
Michael Bishop
5.6mi
Nov 29, 2021
Robert Hartman
Perfect weather.
Aug 29, 2020
Alex Alvarez
5.8mi
May 12, 2020
Ken Sullivan
Most technical ride I've ever done. Maybe ride again. Good workout on the way up but walked the bike soooo much. Uphill rocks and all
Mar 23, 2020
Michael Bishop
May 5, 2019
Kyle Payne
Tough but fun trail 6.2mi — 1h 06m