MTB Fort Ord & Snake’n’Shake at Pinnacles

Several people recommended mountain biking at the old Fort Ord army base near Monterey, so Christie and I packed up the bikes in my wagon and headed there for a mini-vacation. The area was used for military operations as far back as 1917 and became an official fort in 1940. It was closed in 1994 and currently is being managed by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management.

Much of the eastern end of the former fort is being used as a park, with many paved roads, unpaved roads, and single track available for biking, hiking and horseback riding, but closed to non-emergency vehicles. We went directly to the parking area on the eastern edge near the intersection of Reservation Road and Cal 68, unpacked the bikes and got on the trails.

No doubt about it, this is a great mountain biking location. Perhaps I am exagerating, but it seems like there are a thousand miles of trail to ride, and the scenery is beautiful throughout. (click on any image to start a slide show)

Just don’t get distracted by the views, you might dump your ride, as I did. Going downhill on a gravel road I went into a turn too hot and laid it down to the left for a 3 point landing on my elbow, shoulder and thigh. My elbow got the worst of it, but at least I was wearing long sleeves to minimize the rash. I also had a plastic case for glasses in a cargo pocket on my left thigh, the case got shattered by the impact.

On our way home the next day, we stopped to go hiking at Pinnacles National Park near the town of Soledad. Upon entering the park I had the pleasant surprise of learning that my advanced age qualified me for a $10 lifetime entry card, good for entrance to any site managed by

  • U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
  • Forest Service
  • U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
  • Bureau of Land Management
  • National Park Service
  • Bureau of Reclamation

It’s good for anybody in the vehicle with me, regardless of their age. What a deal! Finally something good about turning 62.

I’ve lived only 1.5 hours away from Pinnacles for the last 2 years, yet this is the first time I visited the park. What a dope, this place is lovely! Christie and I decided to do the balconies and cave trail. The “balconies” are a  massive rock formation that has some flat ledges up near the top, rather balcony-like, where lots of birds nest. The trail also runs through a cave formed by rock fall, which is extensive enough that you need a flashlight to find your way through it, and you need to be able to scramble up and down rock faces inside of the cave.

Did I say “rock fall?” The map at the visitor center indicated the San Andreas fault runs just a few miles to the east of the park, as well as a couple of smaller faults within the park. And here we are crawling through a rock fall cave in the dark… (click on any image to start a slide show)

In addition to the birds up on the balcony, we saw deer in the meadows, a wild turkey drinking from a stream, and I almost stepped on a rattlesnake. The snake was resting in mottled shade on the edge of the trail, camoflaged in the periphery of my vision. When I stepped near it, the snake retracted to a strike position and rattled its tail a bit. The movement is what I noticed before realizing it was a snake, then I jumped away and told Christie (walking behind me at that moment) to stop and back up. The snake slithered away into the underbrush and we lived to hike another day.

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One Response to MTB Fort Ord & Snake’n’Shake at Pinnacles

  1. Gary Dunning says:

    Toxicodendron diversilobum = the “underbrush” Jeff. See any California Condors? Perfect timing for your sojourn. Weather could not have been better! Cheers, Outback Cayucan

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