I don't get to go riding that way often and had been looking to explore a few unfamiliar roads in Valley Center, so instead of starting with the group I opted to go off on my own before trying to catch up at or near the top of Lake Wohlford instead. This naturally involved ungodly wake-up time to ride from my pad in Uptown to America Plaza in Downtown to be sure of securing a space on the 2-bike bike rack on the 5:08 a.m. MTS Rapid Bus 235 up to Escondido (when you are traveling with a bicycle it is always best to get on as close to the bus terminus as possible or you might end up like the cyclist that tried to get on the bus at Boulevard Transit Station that morning. The rack at the front of the bus was full by then, and he had to wait for the next bus (and hoped that that bus' bike rack wasn't full, too).
|The fountain in front of Valley View Casino.|
It was still quite dark and cold when I set off up Bear Valley Blvd, and the sun was still behind the mountain tops when I made the turn onto wonderfully traffic-free ('cause most motorists are sensible and were still in bed at 7:20 a.m. on a Saturday) Lake Wohlford Rd. That made that two mile grind of a climb quite more bearable. Alas, my camera doesn't do well in low-light setting, but it was just as well since I had ridden through there many times before and needed to save memory card space for the 'unexplored' bits of the day's ride.
|Up the perilous Paradise Mountain Rd.|
|Paradise Mountain Lane turn off.|
|Take the right fork on Paradise Mountain Lane.|
|Paradise Mountain Lane, turning pretty around the bend.|
|"Old Tom in summertime walked about the meadows|
gathering the buttercups, running after shadows,
tickling the bumblebees that buzzed among the flowers,
sitting by the waterside for hours upon hours." - JRR Tolkien, The Adventures of Tom Bombadil
Mind you, I had had enough of anxious riding by the time I got to (private) Paradise Mountain Lane turn off, so I took the much less traveled paved lane detour instead of staying on the main road... and was in for quite a lovely surprise! After a couple of blind curves, the lane dips into a treed-in stretch that is something of a paradise for Tolkien-loving bikers like me.
|Looking back west on Paradise Mtn Ln. Coming down that steep & loose dirt ramp on a pair of 25 mm road tires was a tad shy of fun!|
|More tree-covered goodness on the dirt section of Paradise Mtn Ln.|
It is only a short hill, however, and the drop on the other side is even a bit steeper and looser, so it was something of a fluke that I managed to glide down it on a one-foot bike-glissade (it really didn't help that the loose dirt surface turned into gravel toward the bottom) without ending up rubber-side-up, so to speak. Luckily for me, the road pretty much levels out after that and turns into a firm dirt lane until it joins the well paved Cll de Encinas, which I took back up the hill back to Paradise Mountain Rd and Los Hermanos Ranch Rd and then Kiavo Dr north toward Hellhole Canyon Preserve. It was now 9 a.m. and I couldn't linger much if I were to successfully ambush Team Fun just as they crest the Lake Wohlford Rd climb.
|Turning onto Kiavo Dr on the way to Hell(hole).|
|A steep drop down into Hell(hole).|
|Hellhole Canyon park ranger during Halloween season...|
|Hellhole Canyon Preserve staging area with nice port-a-toilets and a water faucet.|
|Rodriguez Mtn from Hellhole Canyon Preserve.|
|Lake Wohlford Rd heading south toward the town.|
|Frankly, I find it ridiculous that the speed limit is that high on this narrow and curvy a road...|
Anyhow, I made it back to the Lake Wohlford cafe bend (where Smokey's Cafe is, just north of the road's crest). There was no sign of Team Fun, though I had past couple of cycling groups going the opposite way on the road, so they were liable to show up soon. There is a clearing on the hill overlooking the cafe and the lake that I had espied on Google Earth overhead view while browsing through the area looking for places to explore, so I headed up and hoped that the gals wouldn't go whizzing by down on the main road before I could get to the place. It isn't really hidden. There is a rough trail/steps leading up to it from N Lake Wohlford Rd that even has a blue trash bin at the bottom... and you can even get to it from the mostly paved road. The view on top is quite awesome...
|The road to the Lookout.|
|Lake Wohlford from the lookout.|
|The 'could have been' castle overlooking Lake Wohlford.|