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Santa Monica Mountains

Map of the Santa Monicas

The Santa Monica Mountains run ~50 miles in length and about 7 miles in width separating the coast from the San Fernando and Conejo Valleys. the tallest peak is a little over 3000 feet and is located in Point Magu State Park. The terrain is basically chaparrel with ridges cutting many canyons. The deepest is Las Virgenes. In the rainy season streams run from these canyons toward the ocean. This area offers good mountain biking year round except after heavy rains where the trails can be eroded and muddy.

The rides described offer a good panoramic taste of the Santa Monicas. My favorite ride is in Point Magu State park. One experience all types of riding from pavement to fireroad to single tract. This is the valley to ocean ride with great views of the highest peaks,lush growth on the canyon floor and nifty ocean panoramas.

To ride in the Santa Monicas one experiences the climatic effect of the ocean breezes. You begin to understand why it is 20-30 degrees hotter in the valley than by the coast in the summer months. You feel the temperature change dramatically as you ride along the "overlook trail" in Point Magu Park. Nice cool breezes when you face the ocean and seering heat the next second around the bend when the breeze is blocked by the mountains.

Riding the trails in the Santa Monicas requires you to be in good shape to climb the long grinding uphills especially the "bulldog " upgrade in Malibu Creek Park. This to me is the toughest climb in my rides of this area. Once you reach the summit its well worth it as you marvel at the different shapes of the sculptured terrain on the ride.

Spring is the best time to ride in this area. Enjoy the fragrance of the blooming flowers and get nice and wet crossing the many streams awaiting you on the canyon floor. The Santa Monicas have been discovered as a close place to enjoy mountain biking. Expect to see a lot of your fellow compadres on the weekends. The rides I have detailed gives a good glimpse of the Santa Monicas. The Point Magu ride shows the northern area, the Malibu Creek loop the central area and the Topanga park and Sullivan Canyon rides the southern areas. In the summer months make sure you apply at least 30 sunscreen and carry plenty of water. After you've taken these rides go out and extend them especially in Topanga State Park. You'll find many enjoyable riding hours here and you will certainly be in shape for riding in the higher elevations of the San Gabriels and Los Padres.

Additional info

Current Weather in the Santa Monica Mnts
Santa Monica Mountain National Recreation Area
Geology of the Santa Monica Mountains
Future plans for Santa Monica Mountains
Mountain Bike Rides in LA