Castaic, CA Trail Area Reviewed by Preston Mason
Review Date: 3/8/2021
UPDATE - There is construction going on in this area and some of the trails are getting bulldozed over so be sure to check the trail conditions before heading out there!
If you live in Southern California then you know how many great trails there are in the area and you can ride multiple trails from almost anywhere you happen to be. Thanks to apps such as Strava and Trailforks, its very easy to find information and directions to trails in whatever location you happen to be riding in that day.
Since there are so many great trails scattered throughout the area, it's usually pretty easy to take a short trip to a trail system that might be new to you and spend the day there. Driving for an hour or two is definitely worth having a full days riding on some new trails.
If you are close to the city of Castaic or happen to know where it is then it's definitely a place you will want to check out. Castaic is located about 40 miles northwest of Los Angeles and is close to Magic Mountain located in Santa Clarita. They also have a nice lake there if you are into things such as hiking, fishing, boating or waterskiing.
The trails in the Castaic area are located close to each other for the most part, making it easy to ride multiple trails in the same day. The main riding area consists of a couple of fire roads called Charlie Canyon Rd and Tapia Canyon Rd which you ride up to take the singletrack trails down. You can think of it as self shuttling yourself by using your bike. Then once you take your trail(s) of choice down the bottom, you simply ride back up and do it again or choose a different trail. You will notice that there are a lot of e-bikers who ride this area since they can make it back up to the top more easily and more times than are regular mountain biker.
There are a few more trails that are in a different section from the main trail area if you would like to give them a shot to try something different. You will need to do a little climbing to get to that area and also to get from one trail to the next, but these trails offer a little more speed and technical ability compared to the main trail are. Trailforks has all of these trails mapped out making it easy to figure out where you need to go.
Since most of the trails here are rated blue for intermediate, it's a good place for those who want to have some fun yet not risk hurting themselves or getting in over their head. In the mail trial area there is nothing that is too steep or too technical so you should be ok riding just about anything. The hardest trail in this area would be G-Out since you need balance and strength to make it through without getting off your bike. Some good endurance will help too! The best way to ride G-Out is to connect into it from Sidewinder which is a fast and flowy run that's pretty drama free.
Kona and Burn Victim are similar style trails where they are singletrack runs that don't have anything too difficult to them and are sort of straight runs down the hill. Neither one of them are too steep either. They both start at the plateau at the top of the climb and Burn Victim actually ends on a section of Kona and you can ride Kona the rest of the way out if you like. Then you can connect right into Karl's to add some more fun to your ride or cut out back on the fire road to climb back up. Karl's is similar to Kona but not as fast or steep.
One run that I recommend is taking Top Dog into Dog Tag since they are a little more challenging and a little steeper in some sections. You also get more twists and turns along the way, but you will also have to do just a little bit of climbing. Plus Dog Tag will connect right into Kona and you most likely wont even notice the change.
If you decide to go over to the other side of the hill, or should I say climb up the other side of the hill then you can ride three more trails that offer a little more excitement if that's what you are looking for.
Coyote Ridge is the only black diamond trail in the area, and it gets this rating because it has several step and loose "chutes" that you will need to ride down to complete the trail. None of them are anything an intermediate rider can't handle but you might want to pass on this one if you are afraid of heights!
Once you get to the bottom you can ride up the Cramp My Style fire road to get to Criminal Ridge. In the middle of Criminal Ridge you can split off to the left to take Solitary Confinement or finish out Criminal Ridge. Either direction will offer the same type of ride and there are a few small jumps along the way but nothing too crazy. Whatever direction you take, you will need to ride up Plea Bargain in order to ride down Huck-A-Buck.
The only problem with doing this side after the main area is that you will need to find your way back to where you parked if you parked in the place where everyone starts from. You can also do these other trails by themselves and park near Avenida Rancho Tesoro close to the water tower and start your climb from there. Or you can drive over from the main parking area and run this area separately.
Directions to the Castaic Trails
Getting to the Castaic area trails is fairly easy and all you need to do is get on the 5 freeway north from Los Angeles and the surrounding areas and take exit 176A for Parker Rd and make a right. Then go right on Castaic Rd and you can either park at the Castaic Sports Complex on the left or pass it and make your next left on Tapia Canyon Rd. When you get to the end of the road make a left and you will see a bunch of cars parked along the road with bike racks.
To start the ride you will continue up the blacktop road until it turns into dirt and follow the fire road to the top. Just be sure to keep right on Charlie Canyon Road at the curve rather than stay straight on the fire road or you will end up somewhere you don't want to be. Then when you get to the top you will make a left on Tapia Canyon and take it all the way up to the towers. I would install the Trailforks app on your phone so you will be able to see where you are from your current location, so you don't get lost. Once you get the lay of the land, its very easy to navigate the area. Here is the location on the Trailforks website.