It's funny how someone can live almost their entire life in one area and never really know all the best kept adventure riding secrets. Like most avid Los Angelean riders, I had never heard of Mount Santiago Peak, until I began studying deep into the internet and the Southern California Backcountry 4x4 Adventure Guide. That's when I discovered the Main Divide Trail in the Cleveland National Forest's northern section. This area happens to be in eastern and northern Orange County and off the radar to most living in Southern California and beyond.
Part One- Marina Del Rey to Maple Spring Gate and into the Main Divide Trail.
For the purpose of a possible fly and ride, this journey starts in Los Angeles. If you're from out of town you can catch a flight into LAX ( Los Angeles International Airport). Or you can take a train into downtown and then metro line to LAX. You'll be renting your own KTM 950 from Santa Monica Honda (actually in Marina Del Rey California and approximately a 10 minute cab from LAX). Ask for Tom, the sales and rental manager. Rates varies depending on days needed. Get their info online, call in advance and they will make you a sweet deal. The first leg illustrated by the above map has a 45 minute freeway section leading from Marina Del Rey to Santiago Canyon road which is a nice test ride if you're on the rental bike.
This trip doesn't necessarily require a heavy load of gear since I won't be doing any ground camping ( however, there are some great campsites along the route if desired). Traveling lighter allows more agility on the dirt track.
Some essential supplies I recommend for any trip includes: mini hoist with replacement heavy cord, heavy rated ratchet strap, full tire irons with patch kit, engine compression tire pump kit, slime tire pump, clutch and brake fluid, engine ice, small container motorex oil, pre-filter socks, fixaflat is optional. For this trip these items will go at the bottom of an easy removeable topcase ( for longer trips I prefer the Giant Loop Great Basin bag). Also not pictured for the topcase is a Nikon D5100 with two lenses ( wide and zoom), 2 8gig sd cards. A few essentials not pictured but stored exclusively in jacket pocket... IPhone 4 including Pandora music library connecting to blue tooth helmet unit, nitril gloves and toilet tissues. And of course there's always a partial frozen full Camel Bak combining water and electrolites along with protein bars. Choose your gear wisely since a portion of this route is quite remote.
I strongly recommend a range of 200 miles minimum between refueling, although this trip only requires 120 miles at it's farthest distance from civilization. But the extra range of this advtank allows a full day on this ride without refueling if needed. For tires I like the TKC 80 which work well on soft pack, shallow water crossings, some small river washes, broken asphalt and some freeway. Also new 17/44 drive set 2 teeth larger rear (slight lower gearing for dirt but still great for long slabbing).
I'll also be testing a new RTT steering stabilizer with handlebar remote damper adjustment during this adventure tour. The stabilizer is built into the upper clamp with bar riser and works with Fastway's Cycra bend hand guards. This should help with the rocky dirt sections throughout this 180 miles of mixed terrain each day.
A new addition of a modified PC Skins for the Uni pre-filter.
My 950 Adventure in it's "service bay" after final prepping for this two day adventure ride out of Los Angeles.
The Departure: I normally leave from my bike's "service bay" out the back alley, which is about 5 minutes from the Honda/ KTM shop in Marina Del Rey.
A quick freeway tune up ride heading south of Los Angeles to the dirt trail out of Maple Springs.
Nice quaint cafe at the end of Silverado Canyon road nearing the Maple Springs forest service gate into Main Divide Trail.
The Maple Springs Gate and northern entrance to the Main Divide Trail. It's important to check it's opened during rainy and fire seasons.
Bench at Maple Springs Gate offers a nice food stop before the 34 miles of dirt along the Main Divide Trail.
Large shade tree just past the Maple Springs Gate.