McDowell Mountain: Escondido Loop

A beautiful beginner-friendly loop that sees much less traffic than the Pemberton Loop.

Mountain Biking Moderate

Distance
15 km
Ascent
204 m
Descent
204 m
Duration
1-2 hrs
Low Point
495 m
High Point
580 m
Gradient
McDowell Mountain: Escondido Loop Map

The Escondido Loop is easy to reach from one of McDowell Mountain Regional Park's main trailheads, yet it sees a fraction of the traffic that the popular Pemberton Loop receives. This lack of traffic makes for a peaceful ride on delightfully-narrow singletrack, despite being located in this popular park.

Description

The route as mapped begins from the main Pemberton Loop trailhead and begins by following a short section of that trail. After just 1.3 miles on the wide, smooth Pemberton Trail, take a right onto the signed Escondido Trail. You'll immediately notice that the singletrack gets narrower and twistier. You'll begin to drop in and climb out of small washes as you swing around the massive cacti.

Soon, the trail begins to descend along a beautiful benchcut into the bottom of a large wash at the base of the mountains. From here, the ride gets a bit hillier as you climb up and down the sides of dramatically larger washes. Essentially, these are the bottoms of the washes that run through all of McDowell Mountain Park. Here, near the border of the downhill side of the park, many washes come together to form more substantial valleys.

The trail tread through this section is narrow and flowy, with rubbly rocks providing a little bit of technical challenge. Even with a bit of rubbly challenge, this ride still only warrants an "Easy" difficulty rating.

After twisting in and out of washes and valleys for several, you'll round the end of the small mountain ridge and make your way back toward the Pemberton Trailhead on the Lower Shallmo Wash Trail. Here the trail is, again, smoother and easier to pedal.

The Escondido Loop is a delightful beginner-friendly ride, and it's simultaneously perfect for cross-country riders looking to wrack up miles. For an even longer ride, combine Escondido with Pemberton.

Difficulty

Moderate

Mostly stable trail tread with some variability, with unavoidable obstacles 8in/20cm tall or less. Other obstacles such as rock gullies and steep sections may exist. Ideal for lower intermediate riders.

Medium Exposure

2 out of 4

The trail contains some obstacles such as outcroppings and rock which could cause injury.

Remoteness

2 out of 4

Away from help but easily accessed.

Best time to visit

January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November, December

Features

  • Flow
  • Technical
  • Singletrack
  • Rock Gardens

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Guidebooks in this area