|Mt Israel Rd climbing north from Del Dios Hwy|
Now, if you look at the map and pay attention to road signs you'd know that technically Mt Israel is a dead end road. I did my homework, however, and knew that people have road biked between it and Via Ambiante to Harmony Grove Rd to the north. I'm not telling exactly how, but a good perusal of Google Earth map could inform you of a possible detour that would get you onto (quite very private) Connemara Rd up the hill to Rancho Cielo housing development and then Via Ambiante... If you do find the detour, please, please, only ride thru there solo or in very small (and quiet) group. Be as discreet as possible and keep the way open for others.
|Connemara Rd climbing up from Mt Israel Rd.|
|Rancho Cielo development overlooking Olivenhain Reservoir & Mt Israel.|
|Via Ambiente descending north through Olivenhain toward Harmony Grove.|
|Harmony Grove Rd and Questhaven Rd to Questhaven Nature Trail.|
Questhaven north from Harmony Grove is paved for about 600 yds or so before it disintegrates into firm fine gravel and then firm dirt... That is until it becomes a car/motorcycle-free nature trail that's open only to hikers, bicycles and horses. My 25mm road tires did okay for much of the way, though there were a couple of short stretches where the top layer of dirt was too soft to ride through. This is why I'm fond of riding in my comfy shoes rather than cycling cleats. Hopping off the bike for a bit of hike-a-bike is no problem for me!
I think I did spot the supposed tree with a witch's face on it, though. It's a bit north of the retreat... and the face is just an odd looking stump on its branch. The more wow-inducing encounter happened a couple of s-curves later, however, when I cleared the right bend to find a deer standing right by the side of the road, staring at me from just a few feet away! He turned on the spot and bolted straight into the woods before I could say 'Boo!', of course. I even had my camera out and was filming the road, but all I got of him was a very quick glance of his rear end disappearing into the trees (you can see that on the video at the bottom of the page, at around 5:56 min).
There is some climbing going northwest on Questhaven Rd; a pretty steep (around 12% grade) but short pitch to the level out where Attebury Rd branches out to the right to climb up Mt Whitney. I had intended to follow Attebury, but was deterred by the 'Private Road: No Trespassing' sign and by the prospect of climbing up a steep dirt thing on my road tires (the sun had turned up and the temperature was shooting rapidly through the roof) and the fact that I was running quite low on water and there was no prospect of refilling the bottles on Attebury Rd or anywhere on Mt Whitney, so I stayed on Questhaven Rd until it joined up with San Elijo Rd and turned right and headed for San Marcos.
This is getting long, though, so I'm breaking off and will post part 2 of the ride soon! In the meanwhile, here's the video from the ride: