Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Ride Along the Barrett-Stoddard to Frankish Peak...

I posted up a few photos from this ride a couple weeks ago, fully expecting to write up a full report in a timely manner. Didn't quite work out that way so, keeping in mind that the ride took place two weeks ago, and the write-up last week, here it is: Wow, actual rain today. Makes for a good excuse to catch up on a post I had though to write up some time ago. Last week I rode up along the Barrett-Stoddard road/trail, and then up the road to Frankish Peak. I wrote a bit about this mountain bike ride in February last year, and it is a section of what I call the Guardians of the Canyon route; I probably do it three or four times a year. The starting point for it is the little parking area off the Mt. Baldy Road where there is a small power station. Two routes start from here; one a crumbling paved road heads down San Antonio Canyon, and is not the one you want to take. The other is a mostly gravel and river rock road which goes down along the power station, until it crosses an arched bridge over San Antonio Creek, and then heads upward. The road takes you into the little hamlet in Barrett Canyon. Riding through this little settlement you pass the storybook house and then will undoubtedly be greeted by a couple big dogs. They have never failed to appear for me; they will bark when they first see you and come out onto the road, but have never given me any other problem. I just ride on by them. After a couple stream crossings you reach the yellow Forest Service gate.


shaded section of trail

destination, and turn around point, that peak in the background

After the gate, the grade increases, in fact this is the steepest part of the route; it is also deeply shaded by overhanging oaks, so even in the summer it is nice and cool. In a quarter mile you reach a kind of plateau and leave the oaks behind. The road also begins to close in on you, becoming more and more narrow, until all that is left is a single-track trail. Don't become overly focused on the trail, there are some nice views down into the canyon, and out over what is called Spring Hill, where there are often a herd of deer grazing. From here to the Stoddard Peak saddle is such a fun trail to ride - the grade is gradual, there are some rocks, shrubs, fallen trees, etc to flick your bike around or over, it is hard not to have a good time.

Stoddard Saddle it the high point of this route, and also marks a point where the trail widens back to a fire road. However, since the road is not maintained in any way, landslides and brush means that much of the road has reverted to double and single track trail. Once again, it is an easy grade down, with a scenic rocky mountainside on your left and the depths of Stoddard Canyon on the right. You ride in and out of small side canyons, some wooded, some with streams. Day hikers rarely seem to go this far, so it is mostly likely just you and whatever wild creatures are out and about. Just before reaching the flat area at the top of West Cucamonga Canyon, and trail junction to other points, you head into one of those small side canyon (this one somewhat larger). There is a large corrugated pipe here, a concrete wall which I assume was a check dam at one point. The trail is long since washed out here and is the one place you will need to dismount. Continue on down to the flat area which is now heavily littered with aluminum cans. You can head down into Cucamonga Canyon from here, or go up to Frankish Peak.

recently widened tunnel of ceanothus

the offending spines of ceanothus

up on Frankish Peak looking down on the alluvial fan of Cucamonga Canyon

some manzanita was coming into bloom

nice riding trail

If you chose Frankish Peak, you will probably walk the first part. This route proceeds through a tunnel of ceanothus, the kind with spines at the end of each branch. When I first rode up here a few years ago this tunnel was severely overgrown and I emerged from it looking like I had visited a piercing parlor. Someone has recently done a lot of clearing, so the trail is wider, but still difficult, if not impossible to avoid being stabbed and jabbed. You pass scattered clumps of this shrub all along the trail, but in this one spot they grow en-mass. Shortly you will clear this obstruction and you can remount again to continue riding. By winding around the peak, the road takes its time to reach the top, but once there you have some nice views in all directions. This is an out and back, so go back the way you came. Keep in mind that it is impossible to avoid contact with brush growing in on the trail. I think winter is the best time to ride this because you don't have to worry about ticks; during the summer you might want to stop and check for the little buggers every so often. This is also a great trail when there is snow on the ground. The route is low enough in elevation that the snow is rarely so deep as to prevent you riding.

If I had out-of-town visitors who wanted to sample the home trails, those that are mere minutes away, I can think of three that we would ride, Monroe Truck Trail, Marshall Canyon/Palmer-Evey to Potato Mountain, and the Barrett-Stoddard to Frankish Peak. It's a worthy ride.


  1. Thanks for your post. I've day hiked to Frankish from Cucamonga canyon a few times this year and enjoyed your description.

  2. There are so many incredible places minutes away in the local mountains, it is hard to pick a favorite.


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