Velo course: Canyon Country Loop One, San Francisquito and Bouquet
As you might have guessed, this roughly 73 mile long edition of the Velo course, is another blast from the past, one that had its time as a favorite when I wanted something longer with a little more challenge. It was one of three loops through Canyon Country I rode back in the '90s, and though this was the first, it was not the one I did most often. I guess the first time I rode through San Francisquito and Bouquet Canyons was during something called the Tour de Canyons in 1989 which, I think, started at the YMCA and would have been, mostly, just the loop portion of the route (as seen on the two maps), though it was not my first experience in Bouquet:
Okay then, Bouquet Canyon has been a popular spot for Valleyites fleeing the burbs for a more rural setting for quite some time, a fact that endowed it with more traffic than other of its neighboring canyons. Therefore the preferred way of riding the loop was clockwise, thus heading down from its heights at, or near, the speed of the motors. Second not-at-all-interesting fact - I don't think I ever did the exact route as shown on the map twice; while the loop portion stayed the same each time, the tail was either lengthened or, more likely, shortened. Once I rode from Burbank, which made it a little longer. More often though, I would drive to the YMCA in Santa Clarita, or the handy Carl's Jr at the corner of Sierra Highway and Newhall Avenue, and start from there (this makes the route about 42 miles).
That was alright because the tail end was just to get to, or from, the crown jewel portion - the loop. San Francisquito could be amazingly peaceful, spinning along, or grinding uphill with just the sound of my chain and wheels on the pavement, the wind and the birds. Keep in mind that most of these rides were done on a Monday since the entirety of the 1990s my work schedule gave me a Sunday-Monday weekend; the peaceful, easy feeling might not have been quite so distinct if I had to do this on a Saturday or Sunday with greater numbers of motor vehicles carrying work-weary urbanites up canyon to camp or picnic.
I am going to start the turn-by-turn portion of this Velo course from Sierra Highway since however you get there - via San Fernando Road or Foothill Boulevard can vary:
Sierra Highway to Newhall Avenue turn left,
at Railroad Avenue merge right onto that street (alternately you can now continue on Newhall Ave to the South Fork Trail to the Chuck Pontius Commuter Rail Trail to the Bouquet Creek Trail, none of which existed at the time I was riding this route. If you take these off-street bike trails be sure to exit where the path crosses Bouquet Canyon Road so you can make the left onto Seco Canyon Road),
if you choose to stay on the streets, right about where Magic Mountain Parkway intersects, Railroad Avenue changes it name to Bouquet Canyon Road, just keep on keeping on until you reach Seco Canyon Road where you turn left,
go left again on Copper Hill Drive,
right on San Francisquito Canyon Road and take it all the way up through the canyon
to the little community of Green Valley where at the corner of SFC Road and Spunky Canyon there is a gas station / market if you need to refresh or refuel,
right on Spunky Canyon Road for the final push to the top, the high point of the route,
take the fast descent to Bouquet Reservoir which you take the long way around, coming out at Bouquet Canyon Road and turning right onto that road.
From there it is a straight shot down Bouquet and back into the city.
Though the canyons are the big draws for this ride, there are other points of interest on the route - for instance, the historic Newhall Pass with Beale's Cut, William S. Hart Park and Museum, and portions of the terrific system of off-street bikeways that exist in the Canyon Country area.
the elevation profile is from Sierra Highway / Newhall Avenue