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Bike touring west thru Anza Borrego

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Bike touring west thru Anza Borrego

Old 12-22-15, 01:58 PM
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Bike touring west thru Anza Borrego

Hello All Southern CA cyclists!

This is what I'd like to know... bicycling from Westmorland west to Borrego Springs (Rt. 78), west on S22 to Rt. 76 to Pauma Valley - what is there in the way of services between Borrego Springs and Pauma Valley?? The internet's showing it's about 50 miles. I'm biking slow due to bad knees, so can't do it in one day and don't prefer to do it in 2 either (unless some great tail wind should show up). I've studied googlemaps and it's not showing anything. Also, there seems to be an Indian Reservation on this route, but can't get details. Is there one? How's the terrain between BS and PV? I've already biked around Salton Sea, so I know there's no camping possibilities between Westmorland and the Border Patrol stop east of Ocotillo Wells. Is there anything once I turn onto Rt. 78 towards OW??

Thank you for any input/info/comments/suggestions!
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Old 12-22-15, 02:08 PM
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when are you doing it? Be careful this winter for flash flooding and winds
I would definitely recommend you do it supported.

Going up 22 is quite a good climb, and the entire route is challenging. Pro teams do training camps on that route.
There isn't much in the way of services, so you're pretty much on your own. There is a littering of shops near Lake Hinshaw where you can get some food and water but I would scout that before you ride.
good luck!
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Old 12-22-15, 02:19 PM
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I'm mainly concerned with food - any markets/convenient stores within that 50 miles? Supported? What's that?! I can carry enough food for 2 days - no more space than that. I'm stuck over here in backwards Imperial County and want to get back into SD County. I came via Rt. 94 and have no interest to backtrack (this chick don't back track). What about the Warner Springs to Temecula route (Rt. 79)? Any better? Would like to leave soon, however there's another cold front coming in, so may not be until New Year's Dayish.
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Old 12-22-15, 02:21 PM
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And by the way, I've heard on the radio about the anticipated El Nino rains for SD County. Do they also anticipate it for north of Oceanside? I'm hoping to bike the coast north to San Luis Obispo and then turn inland. Nothing is set in stone yet.
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Old 12-22-15, 02:44 PM
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If you head up through Temecula, there are little towns along the way. They do have some restaurants and shops but it's sparse - I've never stopped at any between there.
Palomar mt is a popular climb, you might see a cyclist or two on that Temecula route

I'm not sure if 76 or 79 is more bike friendly. I'm not so familiar with 76.
I do know 79 is common car traffic into Borrego Springs, and the traffic will get more busy after you pass Aguanga (st road 371 turnoff).

from Borrego to Warner Springs is a tough climb. Rollers from there and start to drop down into Temecula a few miles after 371...but with wind and rain...that's a tough ride. The winter winds there are pretty intense.

I would chat with the locals on road conditions. Lots of forest service guys around Borrego, maybe you can talk to them about it- they spend a lot of time driving around.
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Old 12-22-15, 05:29 PM
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I did a quick map-out on RWGPS (which can run a little high, actual numbers could be a little less) and your whole 100 miles from Westmorland to Pauma is 6000-ish feet of climbing. Your first 50 to Borrego Springs is 1400 ft which should be relatively easy, but your first 13 miles out of Borrego Springs on S22 is ~3600ft, that is pretty stout with the remainder generally downhill. Gear low and go slow(spin) and take care of those knees. I need to get out that way and do some biking. Never been out there but mapping out the elevation gains can be helpful to get a rough idea on what you're in for.

Good luck.
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Old 12-22-15, 08:22 PM
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from the hwy 86/hwy78 intersection near the salton sea heading west towards borrego springs, there are two convenience stores-both on the south side of hwy 78.
one is approx 9 miles from the 86/78 intersection and is (i believe) only open on weekends when the nearby ocotillo wells orv area is at peak usage. it was closed for
me mid-week when i last chanced upon it in april. another 5 miles or so west, there is a general store supplying a mobile home park/campground. the general store
is about 200 yards off the highway. it was open for me midweek and the park is decent size so i would expect it to be open daily.


a few miles west of this park, the road forks. you can either take the 78 or bear slightly right and head towards borrego springs. borrego springs will have pretty much
everything you need. if you stay on the 78, there is nothing until you come to a little store at the base of banner grade in the hamlet of banner. i've had mixed luck with
the general store there being open during the years but it does have a dedicated water fountain which is nice. it's another 7 miles or so up the 78 & banner grade to the town
of julian which is about the same size as borrego springs but lacks a hospital (which borrego springs has-just in case). after that, it's relatively easy to roll down the hill west to the
hwy 78/hwy 79 intesection at the hamlet of santa ysabel. santa ysabel has don's market, the julian pie shop and dudley's bakery (bakery only open fri-sun i think). very easy
to fatten up at the pie shop and dudley's and both do not suck. north on hwy 79 from santa ysabel to the hwy 76/hwy 79 intersection has a smallish rise, then a nice downhill.
after making a left at the 76/79 intersection, the road is flattish and there is a general store/restaurant open daily about 4 miles down the road and directly across from lake henshaw.
after the general store, you'll come upon county highway s7 east grade up palomar mountain on your right. hwy 76 undulates and wiggles a bit for the next few miles or so and you
will pass the la jolla indian reservation on your left. have never entered it so i can't give you the skinny. a few westward miles later, you pass county highway s6 on your right.
this is the dreaded palomar mtn ascent but that's probably another trip. continuing on, you hit a small flat and then start a significant 6 mile descent into pauma valley. there's a taco shop
and harrah's casino along with pala casino & small food outposts along the 76 the next few miles. the stretch from harrah's to the 15 freeway is high speed & volume traffic. there is
a turnoff (pala-temecula rd) just north of pala casino which will drop you into the town of temecula and bypass much of the remaining hwy 76 traffic. or you can continue on the 76
a few more miles and make a right on rice canyon road which will eventually drop you into temecula (if that is the next destination).


another alternative is to stay on hwy 78 and bypass the right turnoff directly to borrego springs and continue to scissors crossing. there, staying on the 78 takes you to julian, but making a
right on county hwy s2 routes you up a gradual incline and drops you 3-4 miles west of ranchita. the biggest reason for this alternative is to avoid both banner grade along the 78 and
montezuma grade along s22 which are both harder. the reason the s2 is lightly trafficked? no place to resupply. the s2 and s22 meet after about 11 nw miles and a further 4-5 miles west
along s22 finds you meeting hwy 79. from this intersection, heading right/north puts you in warner springs where you can resupply. continuing north on hwy 79 will eventually
land you in the hamlet of aguanga and a long, undulating, high-traffic stretch later, in the town of temecula. heading left/south from the hwy 79/s22 junction brings you to the
76/79 junction after about 5 miles. a pretty stretch-especially when green. traffic is so-so.


if you take the right turnoff from hwy 78 that heads directly to borrego springs, you'll have 10 mostly flattish miles. after camping/resupplying there in borrego springs, you
tackle montezuma grade. it's never super steep and always scenic but can be pretty windy and is a long 12 mile grade. after topping out, you roll through ranchita where there used to be a
general store but it closed in 2015 at some point. from borrego springs to the store at lake henshaw on hwy 76, it's about 30 unsupported miles


so, in short, the two most "supplied" routes to pauma valley are the hardest and the easiest, the least "supplied."


highway 79 n/nw from warner springs to temecula gets ugly and fast busy traffic once east of aguanga. not recommended. little to zero shoulder nearly the entire way.


highway 76 west of harrah's casino gets ugly and fast busy traffic but preferred (but not by much) to the above hwy 79. again, little to no shoulder.


heading west on highway 78 from santa ysabel to ramona then to escondido (and north to pauma valley) is very busy too.
there is really no quiet, paved, low traffic westbound way without a circuitous route to/past the 15 freeway corridor in the pauma valley/temecula area.

as for camping, there is camping at the tamarisk grove campground just off hwy 78 at the yaqui pass rd./hwy 78 intersection and also in borrego springs at the
anza-borrego state park. also camping at william heise park in the julian area. i seem to remember one or two campgrounds along the 76 in the stretch passing
palomar mountain but i don't recall them being "active" so they may or may not be available.

the good news? the area between the base of the banner grade/montezuma grade climbs and county highway s7 east grade palomar mountain is alternately challenging and
easy but always gorgeous. arguably the most scenic backcountry in southern california. enjoy the journey.

Last edited by diphthong; 12-23-15 at 03:39 AM.
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Old 12-23-15, 02:04 PM
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Thank you for the replies Ooga's. Quite detailed and what I've needed to know. I'm still wondering about the El Nino thing, though.
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Old 12-23-15, 03:01 PM
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if you're out and about the next two weeks between imperial county and san luis obispo, chances are pretty good you're gonna get rained on.
forecast is showing a slight chance of rain in the palomar mountain region next 2 days (10%) but 30% today. palomar mountain is the wettest spot in san diego county.
once you're on the west side of the 15 freeway and heading up the coast, you'll have whatever you need relatively close by except for the 10 mile stretch
of camp pendleton/san onofre state beach (camping tho at sosb!) and farther north of malibu between trancas canyon area and the edges of oxnard.
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Old 12-28-15, 02:11 PM
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Just to update... I just finished the ride from Brawley in Imperial County to Oceanside. I took Rt. 78 to Ocotillo Wells (snack food stop inside ATV rental center, never saw a store or market). You can camp most anywhere at the State Vehicle Rec. Area there. The night I did (Xmas eve) a sand storm blew in with what had to be 50-60mph winds. I don't know if it was considered moderate or bad since I've never been in one. But my bike chain survived. There are also coin-operated showers there (warm). Continued on the next day and perhaps due to minimal sleep during the storm, only got to the Tamarisk Grove campground. $5 for hike/bike, but be warned: THERE IS NO DRINKING WATER ANYWHERE THERE! And there is no advertising this fact either! Had to ask for water from other campers and luckily ran into a couple touring and they gave me some food. Next day continued on to the turn off for S2. Was going to go to Happy Valley for food (only 2 miles off the turn off), but when I turned to do so, the cold wind that had given me a tailwind hit me. Didn't know how strong that wind had been. So skipped getting food and biked up S2 with a tailwind. At Mile 8 there's a Sheriff's station/Public Works station. Grassy area there in case you need to camp and they might provide water depending on their attitude. Continued on to the end - surprise! the summit at 3600ft. arrives a few miles before hand and it's total sailing from that point to Pauma Valley (not a steep downhill). The wind was whipping up, mostly with me, so I had an excellent tailwind. However, due its strength, not constant shoulder and the traffic on 76/78, I wasn't able to enjoy the beautiful scenery that valley provides.
Turned off onto Rt. 76 and free camped at Lake Henshaw. There's a small store there with provisions, but their beverage selection is much larger than their food selection. Next morning, warmed up in the restaurant (I'd been told the night before I arrived temps were 25 degrees). Altitude here is 3,000 or so. There are 2 Indian Reservations after here and at least had a campground. 1 or 2 uphills before you hit the long, steep descent. There's a pull-out view at the top. Pauma Valley doesn't really exist, but there are stores before that. About 5 miles after the food junction, is San Diego County's park preserve. Be warned: GOATHEADS EVERYWHERE even in the parking lot! There are 4 trails, but I didn't think it was worth the stop. A couple of miles later you enter Pala Indian Reservation. I didn't see anywhere to free camp up to this point. Free camping isn't permitted on the reservation. The town has a small market, laundromat, gas station and store and some Mexican food shops (I can't figure that one out) along with the casino. 5 miles west the reservation ends and you reach I-15. Rt. 76 is a very nice route to bicycle - quite scenic most of the way to I-15. However, there's a lot of traffic even on Sunday and the shoulder is sporadic. Most vehicles passing are going or coming from Anza Borrego with their dune buggies. Should you break down and need a ride to some point, most of the vehicles on this entire route from the State Park west are pick ups or cargo type vehicles.

One note: Just west of I-15 is a detour sign for cyclists and pedestrians. This may be new. You have to detour thru Bonsall which returns you back to Rt. 76. Good signage on the detour. Steep climb in the beginning, then all downhill. A sheriff told me that it may be because there's no shoulder on Rt. 76 for that portion. There's a closed, overgrown golf course at the end of Lilac Rd. which is campable if you're discreet. Temp was 30 degrees last night - I woke to find frost and serious condensation on my tent this morning!! I didn't know it got this cold here.

That's all folks! I survived the sand storm, the hills, the lack of food stops. I am cyclist. Hear me roar!
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Old 12-29-15, 01:55 PM
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epic journey. congrats!
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Old 12-29-15, 08:18 PM
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great report travlinhobo!
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