Ride Recommendations - The "Demo"

The Demo, which is short for Soquel Demonstration State Forest, is a great place to ride in the Santa Cruz Mountains (about half way between San Jose and Santa Cruz). The land manager here, The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, has been very open to working with the mountain bike community in creating great trails. Want to see some photos and short video clips from the Demo? Click here to see some from two rides we did there. (click image, or here, to see larger version of map). Most every ride starts with biking up Highland Way (the direction away from highway 17), then make a right onto Buzzard Lagoon Road (a dirt road), and then a right onto Aptos Creek Fire Road (just before Buzzard Lagoon starts going downhill). A short while on this (and through one gate) and you will get to the entrance to the Ridge Trail and the Soquel Demonstration Forest. The total ride to the entrance is about 5 miles, with a bit of climbing. Once inside the forest, most people ride across Ridge Trail to one of the trails that drops them down to Hihn's Mill Fire Road, either Corral, Braille, Tractor, or Saw Pit. To add a second loop, you can either ride all the way back to the parking area and repeat a full loop (Highland Way to Buzzard Lagoon Road, etc.), or climb up one of the trails (usually Tractor or Sulphur). For descents, Braille and Sawpit are both pretty technical, and Corral has a bunch of jumps on it if that is your thing. Tractor is smooth singletrack and Sulphur is fire road (with waterbars that can be used as jumps). Info on the trails and forest can be found on the Stewards of Soquel Forest web site. Note - as of 2012, the Tractor Trail is closed due to logging. Trail was probably wiped out during the process, so will take some time before the trail gnomes get back in and build a new trail. Until then, choose a different route and watch for trail work projects and get out and help!

Suggested loops: * Easiest Loop - Take the Ridge Trail out, then make a right onto Tractor Trail. Tractor is a pretty smooth, relatively non-technical option for a descent. Take this down to the end, where you make a right onto Hihn's Mill fire road, which brings you back to your car. That's about 12 miles and 2000 feet of climbing. * A bit more technically challenging - Take the Ridge Trail and make a right onto Braille. This descent has more technical options (log roll overs, small jumps, etc.). At the end, make a right onto Hihn's Mill fire road, which brings you back to your car. That's about 10 miles and 2000 feet of climbing. * Challenging, but Longer - Take the Ridge Trail to its end, and then down Sawpit (truthfully, you'll probably not know where the trail names changed from Ridge to Saw Pit - just ride to the fire road and you covered both trails). Go right on Hihn's Mill fire road and up a bit to the bottom of Tractor Trail. Take this uphill until you get to Ridge Trail (about 1.5 miles, all climbing, some painful). Then make a left onto Ridge for a little more climbing, then a slight descent to Braille. Left on Braille and the various log rollovers and other stunts to the end. Then right on the fire road and the climb back to the parking area. That's about 20 miles and 3000 feet of climbing. Directions from Bay Area: take Highway 17 toward Santa Cruz, and exit at Summit Rd. Go right at the stop, so that you cross over 17. At the next stop sign, make a left (onto Summit Road). Continue on straight until another stop sign (~10mi). Make a right onto Spanish Ranch Road, and an immediate left onto Highland Way. Continue down into the canyon (driving carefully - the road gets narrow, especially at the landslides) until you see the parking lot and bridge on your right. You can park along the road, or cross the bridge to access an even larger parking lot. Don't leave valuables in your car, as break-ins do happen here.
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