This five-mile fat-tire cruise in the Upper Las Virgenes Canyon Open Space Preserve is what mountain bikers call a middle-chainring ride—no extremes, nothing technical, but rather a gentle climb into the Simi Hills and a gentle descent on the return through an oak-studded landscape. More about nature than rad biking. But nature itself is pretty rad, right?
At the trailhead, a towering oak tree stands off to your left as you begin sailing through seas of sage and taking in 360-degree views of the astounding landscape that was once known as Ahmanson Ranch. Upon reaching a signed fork, you proceed left to continue along the trail.
The fire road morphs into a singletrack as you ride through more majestic oaks, then emerge into warm sunshine that makes you forget that it’s almost winter. You zoom through a puddle of mud, ducking to avoid tree branches. Your tires leave tracks alongside the paw prints of local pups, coyotes, and bobcats. In a sandy patch, your bike dances for a moment until you claim alpha and regain control. A lone palm tree appears inexplicably off to your left as you dip through dry streambeds. An exposed incline, 2.4 miles from the trailhead, looks a little intimidating, but you find your small chainring and talk yourself up the short hill. This is what you came for. Hot muscles now, hot latte later.
It’s turnaround time, but you have options on the way back. When you ride back down this rise, you can turn right and explore a half-mile of beautiful, shady singletrack before it gets too rocky to ride. About a mile later you can turn left at that signed fork and ride up a thigh-burning fire road that loops back to rejoin the main road, adding 1.7 miles to the total distance. Then it’s a gentle cruise until you see that giant oak. You can practically smell the coffee!
CAFFEINATE IT: Whether you’re looking for a pre-ride caffeine fix or a post-ride breakfast or both, Cafe Olé and Santa Fe Café, which share space just a half-mile south of the trailhead, have you covered. Try a cold-brew latte and a chilaquiles breakfast burrito!
To reach the trailhead, exit US-101 at Las Virgenes Rd. and turn north. Continue until it ends at the trailhead after 1.5 miles. Street parking is available. The ride described here starts at P2 on this map and follows the 10 route up, with the option of adding the 3 and 1 routes on the way back. Dog-friendly!