Above: Skyline Truck Trail south
Climb summary by Graham Johnson, San Diego, CA, USA.
The Lyons Valley climbs are two of my favorite in the southern county of San Diego. Nestled above the foothills in the small town of Jamul, these two climbs feature fantastic views to the coast, a lush valley, and some steep pitches and switchbacks to boot!
Getting to Lyons Valley
The Lyons Valley climbs can be accessed by way of ascending either Campo Rd, a 4.5 mile gradual climb that averages 2%, or by ascending the 2.2 miles and 5% gradient of the Jamul Dr climb.
Campo rd features a wide shoulder and low gradient. You’ll take a left onto Lyons Valley Rd. which isn’t the true climb but a 1.6 mile stretch of 3.5%. Eventually, you reach a stop sign where the Lyons Valley Rd splits off to the right and past a school. This is the beginning of the Lower Lyons Climb also known on Strava as the Horse Ranch Climb.
After ascending Jamul Dr, a left turn onto Lyons Valley Rd will get you headed towards the start of the Lower Lyons Climb.
Lower Lyons Valley Rd Climb
A slight descent gets you rolling into the bottom of this short but fun climb. The gradient slowly increases and settles in between 5-9%. No tough pitches, just consistent climbing for two miles. If you want some steeper stuff you’ll love the Upper Lyons climb.
A few fun switchbacks offer different views of the harsh arid peaks so common to the region, the expansive coast far to the west, and of course the horse ranches.
Climbing past the horse ranches, the road winds up into the mountain and eventually reaches a shady summit passing between two mountainsides. This is the end of the Lower Lyons Climb and the entry to Lyons Valley. The contrast from desert chaparral to sprawling oaks and greenery (not always in the heat of a dry summer) can be astounding.
Options after Lower Lyons
You have a few options once you’ve reached the crux in the mountain. If your legs are through after climbing back to back cat 3 climbs you can simply turn around and enjoy a winding descent back to where you started.
If you continue on Lyons Valley, you’ll reach a fork in the road which gives you the option of staying to the right (towards the Upper Lyons Climb) or to the left onto Lawson Valley Rd.
Lawson valley Rd
Lawson Valley quickly takes you to Skyline Truck Trail where a left routes you back towards society and a right takes you further into the backcountry. Assuming you go left, a short moderate climb takes you to a beautiful view point and the highest elevation of your journey thus far. A fast straight descent connects you back to Jamul or Campo, and gets you on your way home.
Pictured Above: The Summit of Skyline Truck Trail high above the clouds. The descent down Jamul Dr was chilly!
If you opt to head on to the Upper Lyons Climb, you get to enjoy 2.5 miles of recovery while you pedal through beautiful ranch land. Riding up here early can be magical as the sun emerges over the mountains and lights up the valley.
It’s worth mentioning that the valley ends with a very fast off camber descent to the left. Take caution here as riders have crashed in the past.
The intersection: The intersecting road is Lyons Valley. Left is takes you further into the hills while a right takes you to a country store and back where you just climbed up from. Straight through the intersection takes you up the backside of Honey Springs Rd.
Here you can find a link to a strava file of this ride. Enjoy the San Diego Backcountry!