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Baja Divide: Section 1

Intermediate
 5.0 (1) RECOMMENDED ROUTE

San Diego to Tecate.


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Map Key

59.4

Miles

95.6

KM

5%

Singletrack

3,282' 1,000 m

High

6' 2 m

Low

5,220' 1,591 m

Up

3,461' 1,055 m

Down

3%

Avg Grade (2°)

21%

Max Grade (12°)

Dogs Unknown

E-Bikes Unknown

Features Views

Overview

Urban routing consisting of mostly pavement for the first 25 miles to get out of San Diego. Seven miles around Lower Otay Reservoir. Seven miles climb up Otay Mountain. Seven miles down to Engineer Springs. Six miles to Barrett Junction. Seven miles to Tecate and the border.

Have $20 cash for a tourist permit at the USA/MEX border crossing. Stay in Tecate, CA at a hotel or campground. This first section has the most pavement of any following route sections south of the border.

Need to Know

Camping is a gamble and limited to developed campgrounds and possibly up the top of Otay Mountain but not near the towers and radiation. Due to the proximity of San Diego and the border you'll likely have visitors or neighbors for the night.

Resupply:
San Diego - food, water, motel, camping, restaurant, bike shop, ATM.
Barrett Junction - water, restaurant.
Tecate - food, water, motel, camping, restaurant, bike shop, ATM.

Description

The Baja Divide route begins at San Diego International Airport, several miles north of downtown San Diego. A variety of bike paths, on-street bike lanes, urban dirt paths, and singletrack lead out of the city to the base of Otay Mountain. The route passes a high density of suburban resources while leaving town including a Trader Joe's, Sprouts, Home Depot, and an REI.

Just before dropping out of town onto a mellow singletrack system around Lower Otay Lake, the route passes the Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, which is also home to the BMX Hall of Fame and Museum, a worthwhile stop.

The climb over Otay Mountain is one of the single greatest climbs on the route, however, the track follows a well-graded dirt road up the mountain which begins very steeply from Otay Lakes Road. The view from the top of the mountain visually connects the city of San Diego and its many neighborhoods and harbors with the bustling city of Tijuana, Mexico, while the Rio Tijuana and the international border are visible from up high. To the east, rocky, folded mountains allude to the terrain along the route in the next few days south of the border.

There is little camping on this section, although a possible campsite is found on the east side of Otay Mountain (BLM) in a grassy meadow just before descending to the paved road at Engineer Springs, whereafter the route passes a series of rural communities along dirt roads and irrigation ditches, descending to Barrett Junction via an old wagon road. The Barrett Junction Cafe is a historic establishment on Hwy 94 and is the only service in the valley. The cafe was especially popular during the post-war years when San Diegans would drive out for the fried fish dinner and populate the dance hall on weekends– fish dinners were free, but patrons paid for their beers. The cafe is now an informal museum of a bygone era and features vintage beer signage, B&W photos, and more than a few guns and animals on the walls, and still serves a classic American menu. A paved climb and descent lead from Barrett Junction to Tecate, a city of approximately 65,000 people at 1775 feet. Traffic along Hwy 94 is moderate at times and is one of the busier parts of the route.

A valid passport is required at the border. For extended travel in Baja California, a tourist permit is also required, available for purchase at the border in the US or MX currency for about $20, cash only (no cards). You must enter the immigration building on the right to fill out paperwork. The tourist visa is paid at the window outside where a receipt is provided. Once across the border, you'll enjoy the energy of a small Mexican city. This, however, is the quietest and most pleasant border crossing between the US and Baja California.

The Sweetwater Summit Regional Park is about two miles off route at the edge of Chula Vista and offers camping. Recommended bike shops in San Diego include RIDE Cyclery (location in downtown SD) and Cal Coast Bicycles. The route also passes near several shops, including Hub and Spoke Cycleworks and the Trek Bicycle Superstore.

Source: bajadivide.com ©Nicholas Carman and Baja Divide, 2016-2020.

History & Background

The Baja Divide was developed by Nicholas Carman and Lael Wilcox in the winter of 2015-2016 on two consecutive rides down the peninsula.

Contacts

Shared By:

Joseph States

Trail Ratings

  5.0 from 1 vote

#1

in San Diego

#1054

Overall
  5.0 from 1 vote
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Recommended Route Rankings

#1

in San Diego

#168

in California

#1,054

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Photos

The way down from Dog House Junction.
Nov 11, 2017 near Ejido J…, MX
Unpaved road
Nov 11, 2017 near Jamul, CA
The lone tree on the side of the trail...
Jan 27, 2021 near Jamul, CA
View of Lower Otay Lakes from trail
Jan 27, 2021 near Jamul, CA
Trailhead at pio pico campground
Apr 12, 2021 near Jamul, CA
Climbing up the north part of the trail
Jan 27, 2021 near Jamul, CA

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