Red Diamond Rattlesnakes and Dropping Out of Art School in Laguna Apr 19, 2017

Tuesdays are almost as bad as Mondays, so anytime I get the chance to ride, I take it, as long as I’ve done my work for the day. Last week a few of us decided to ride the trails in Laguna, about an hour’s drive south of Los Angeles. Our plan was to leave mid-day, ride until sundown, eat dinner and head back once traffic had subsided. Yesterday, we met up at Golden Saddle, packed the cars with gear, our stomachs with food and drove to what has to be one of the best places for mountain biking in Southern California.


The group avoiding a large, beautiful Red Diamond Rattlesnake using the neighboring bushes as a hide for the heat of the day.

Parking our cars on a residential street, we began our slow and steady trek up to the top of a ridge.


Art School descent, left and some steep-ass road on the right.

Morgan used to live there when he worked for Bike Mag a few years back, so he knew the trails like the back of his hand. Not wanting to poach anything illegal, we kept it kosher and began to climb the myriad of singletrack and fire roads in search for the rowdy descents the area has to offer. Up first was Art School, which was especially fun on a hardtail, then we climbed roads steeper than anything I’ve seen in SoCal.


Messing around on a rock formation.


Hitting a jib on Stair Step.

We’d descend into the valley and then climb back up, over and over again, before hitting the Top of the World. From there, we had a few options but opted for Stair Step, a ledged, steep, fall-line trail that came complete with a cheering section as riders portaged their bikes up the trail.


Because Laguna is on the coast, we ended with a dip in the Pacific Ocean.


Brian Vernor, Morgan Meredith and Kyle Kelley

Thanks for the ride, gents!

  • Brett

    Wow, you got the good stuff. Props to you and Kyle for riding all that on hardtails! Bad news though, Art School ain’t sanctioned. It’s slightly less hairy brother, TNA, is. And Canyon Acres SUCKS ass. Glad you enjoyed our little slice down here.

    • Thanks for the clarification! All that stuff is so much fun on a hardtail. We were having a blast. A dusty and dry blast.

    • big Al

      yes impressive! i live out here and my HT 29+ is scary on these trails– and definitely a poached trail

  • Awesome photos! Next time you’re down, connect with the Highway Two/Crank Brothers guys, they do a great group ride through PC Trail, Art School and Car Wreck. Also, from top of the world, connecting (Brian) Lopes Trail to Meadows is a beautiful descent too! Great photos!