Wednesday, August 26, 2015

A Peek Around Rainbow Peaks

While Fallbrook and De Luz next door aren't exactly 'forgotten regions' amongst cycling San Diegans, riding through Rainbow for many usually just means riding along the Old 395, Rainbow Valley Blvd and Rice Canyon Rd. But there are so much more cycle-delic back roads to Rainbow than just the obvious main ones! A few months ago I ventured out there on one of the cooler days to check out a few not-so-well-beaten paths.

The ride started at the Mobile gas station off Old 395 and Hwy 76 in Fallbrook ('cause that's where the 389 bus from Escondido dropped me off, of course). I'm afraid my attempt at getting to Lancaster Mountain Rd was scuttled when the smooth & nicely flat dirt Lancaster Creek Rd runs into a fenced off citrus farm and I had to turn around back to Dulin & Pankey Rds. It was still a nice stretch spent dirtying up the bike while dodging ant hills and stalking Say's phoebes and a few flighty swallows, however.
Lancaster Creek Rd.
A couple of friendly goats along Rice Canyon Rd.
Another turn-around at the Pala Mesa Heights gate.
A side venture up the steep eastern bit of Pala Mesa Heights Rd also ended at a gate, with a bunch of funny California quails laughing at my slow progress from a low branch in a bush nearby. I started to tell them how ungainly they themselves looked quivering on the shaky tree limb when a cucumber-cool coyote came trotting out of another brush within 30 ft of us and disappeared into the ranch house next door. If quails are funny just staying still and bobbing their plumed heads, they are downright hilarious when they scatter out of freight!

Anyhow, I was getting pretty sick of running into gates half-way up a road, so I turned around and started up roads I knew I could pass through instead. Huntley Rd up to Rainbrooks is one of those. It's a steep thing to cycle up, but makes up for the pain with smoothly paved tarmac and amazing view...

A look back westward while climbing Huntley Rd.
Rolling through the citrus & exotic trees farms.
A bargain if there ever is one!
After a while the road sort of levels off into a series of minor rollers as it pokes its way through exotic trees and citrus farms, one of which had a little table out by the roadside supporting a rather cool 6 pack carton of varieties of eggs for sale on honor system for a buck. I was sold on the spot and shelled out the dollar, while secretly hoping that all the bounty will survive the rest of the ride intact in my backpack.

Past the tree farms the road makes a hard uphill left turn as the pavement dissolves into packed gravel, which made for an interesting ride. I was now on Rainbrook Rd and very grateful that I was running 25 mm Gatorskin tires on 80 psi rather than thinner tires at higher pressure. The road does a few minor rollers before leveling out at a right turn, returns to relatively well paved (except for a couple of rather hard to see mini speed bumps and cracks) country lane on its way to joining up with Rainbow Crest Rd.

Gravelly Rainbrooks Rd.

A view on Rainbow Crest Rd.
A little detour right on Rainbow Crest Rd gave a nice top down look on Gomez Creek Rd, the gloriously gory and photogenic monster I had to climb up the last time I ventured through this corner of San Diego County.

A look east toward Tourmaline Queen Mtn from Rainbow Crest Rd.
I didn't tarry long enjoying the magnificent view, though. It was a clear and sunny day and the temperature was starting to spike, so I headed west and then NW on Rainbow Crest to catch Rainbow Rd north toward Rainbow Conservation Camp before turning left uphill in pursuit of the day's main objective, the little broken tarmac lane tracing the cliffy west side of the hill by the name of Rainbow Peaks Trails. Have a look... it is quite a gem!


As you can see, I wouldn't recommend anyone riding this thing who isn't a good bike-handler and very mechanically-inclined. The view to the west is pretty darn awesome. You can see all of Rainbow Valley and its many orchards, and a few pretty tantalizing dirt roads in the area, too.

Rainbow Valley from Rainbow Peaks Tr.

I totally had to hike-a-bike down a bit of the super steep drop. It's just too broken up with huge potholes and lots of loose dirt and pebbles for my dual-pivot brakes and road tires to deal with. At the fat part of the right switchback I veered left onto the rutty dirt path (Rainbow Peaks Rd) for a bit of slippery climbing back to the pristine pavement of Rainbow Heights Rd, sneaked a look east from the water tank, before a nice smooth coast down the wiggly descent to Rainbow Heights Junction.


Rutty dirt bit of Rainbow Peaks Rd
Awesome paved descent on Rainbow Heights Rd
All the climbing done earlier in the day was well paid off by the time I got to Rainbow Heights again. I only spared a brief detour into the lovely Rainbow Inn B&B (alas, nobody was home) before gingerly getting back on the right side of the road (the inn is located right on a blind turn on the steep descent) and free-wheeling my way down the deliciously curvy road into Rainbow proper.



A bit of loveliness at Rainbow Inn B&B.
I'm afraid it was too hot to go poking around Stewart Crest after I got down into the valley, so that's an adventure for another day. I did stop by Nessie Burger for a bite of Fallbrook's favorite monster lunch, though.



It wasn't a very strenuous ride, so I settled for the Nessie Dog instead of the full on burger before catching the bus home. Oh, in case you were wondering, all the eggs I picked up from Huntley Rd survived!

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Thanks for stopping by. Be safe on the roads!