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Thread: CA-74 and backcountry San Diego County

  1. #1
    Junior Member Kezekiel's Avatar
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    CA-74 and backcountry San Diego County

    I live in Orange County, hands down the worst county in Southern California for motorcycle riding. It's compact and crowded. The coastline, which is lovely, is filled with traffic lights and congested. You can count on just a few fingers the decent riding roads.

    By far the longest and most famous, that segment of CA-74 known as Ortega Highway, ends up being a nice transit point to much better rides in Riverside County and San Diego County.

    In fact, San Diego County may be the best of the Southern California counties for day riding if you live in Orange. Great roads are only 60-90 minutes away, and the county is full of them. Just look at all the yellow, orange and red roads on my Butler map:

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    After picking up my bike from getting a fresh rear tire on (the OEM Pirelli Scorpion Trail lasted about 7K miles, not too bad but not great) I headed down the 5 to pick up CA-74 for the ride inland. Ortega is a nice road, not the best on the ride and typically fairly crowded, but if you're content to enjoy the scenery while you sit behind a train of six cars behind a contractor's pickup, then it certainly beats the interstate.

    After Ortega, CA-74 turns into a gaggle of side streets and interstate stretches followed by a lot of stop and go traffic in Hemet before it really comes alive just east of town. Within minutes, the road starts winding up in elevation, the temperatures cool down and the scenery turns rustic and colorful. CA-74 is a California Scenic Route, as the signs start to declare at this point, and the designation is well earned.

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    This segment of 74 connects to three great rides: 243 up to Wrightwood, 371 tp San Diego County, and the Pines to Palms Highway. I've done them all, and they're well worth it.

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    On this ride I take 371 down to 79 for a late lunch in Warner Springs. 371 is not terribly twisty but very scenic, with vistas much more rural and expansive then a stranger to these parts of Southern California might think.
    I'm done crashing now, I promise...

  2. #2
    Junior Member Kezekiel's Avatar
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    Re: CA-74 and backcountry San Diego County

    Just outside Warner Springs is a sailplane airport. This was a nice stop.

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    Here's the bike parked in front of the airport. You can see how dry of a winter it's been so far.

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    Finally, a late lunch at the Warner Springs golf club. Food porn + gear + scenery.

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    I'm done crashing now, I promise...

  3. #3
    Junior Member Kezekiel's Avatar
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    Re: CA-74 and backcountry San Diego County

    On the way back home, I wanted to visit for the first time the San Pasqual Battlefield, where United States forces tangled with the Mexican army in one of the few actual armed conflicts in the California theater of the Mexican war. It unfortunately is only open on the weekends, but the ride there was still worth it. A bit crowded with folks headed back to the more populous coastal areas in the late afternoon, but great scenery. The last pics are of San Pasqual Valley, which was lovely in the afternoon light.

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    I'm done crashing now, I promise...

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    Senior Member Hornet's Avatar
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    Re: CA-74 and backcountry San Diego County

    Keven,
    My wife and I Just spent a weeks vacation at Laguna Beach and had our ST1300 with us. We did sample some of those roads. Ortega highway is good ride but can be a bit busy and many motorist have NOT learned how to use turnouts. Here is a picture of Lake Elsinore from the lookout on HWY 74. Name:  DSC05305.jpg
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    But you you do have some gems. HWY 243 through Idylwild over to Banning is fantastic,we loved it! The road and the views are great. And HWY 74 Pines to Palms is superb as well. Some of the sections east of Hemet remind me of our HWY 299 West out of Redding,Buckhorn summit...good stuff! Anyone visiting southern California those two roads(243 & 74) are a must ride.
    Tim

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    Re: CA-74 and backcountry San Diego County

    great pic's
    thanks

  6. #6
    MSF RIDERCOACH
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    Re: CA-74 and backcountry San Diego County

    Looks like you had a good run! I gotta try some of these roads someday!

  7. #7
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    Re: CA-74 and backcountry San Diego County

    Thanks for sharing!! Great roads indeed.

    I'm lucky enough to live here, and ride all those roads highlighted on your Butler map - often.

    I do have a question though, I'm not familiar with Butler maps. I've heard of them but never bought one. What do the different highlighting colors mean?
    John
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  8. #8
    MSF RIDERCOACH
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    Re: CA-74 and backcountry San Diego County

    Quote Originally Posted by con_ndrm View Post
    Thanks for sharing!! Great roads indeed.

    I'm lucky enough to live here, and ride all those roads highlighted on your Butler map - often.

    I do have a question though, I'm not familiar with Butler maps. I've heard of them but never bought one. What do the different highlighting colors mean?
    You can buy Butler maps @ Escondido BMW. I prefer madmaps myself.

  9. #9
    Junior Member Kezekiel's Avatar
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    Re: CA-74 and backcountry San Diego County

    Quote Originally Posted by con_ndrm View Post
    TI'm not familiar with Butler maps. I've heard of them but never bought one. What do the different highlighting colors mean?
    In general terms, yellow = awesome, red = great and orange = nice, all from a motorcycling perspective. The maps themselves don't offer a lot of navigational detail but used in conjunction with a AAA map, good road atlas or some other more highly detailed map they are a great way to plan out a ride. I usually consult the Butler map for ideas and then plot out routes on pages that I cut out of my CA road atlas, which I then fold and stick in the window of my tank bag.

    More about Butler's rating system: http://www.butlermaps.com/Motorcycle-Road-Maps/
    Last edited by Kezekiel; 01-03-2012 at 02:44 PM. Reason: Corrected mistake
    I'm done crashing now, I promise...

  10. #10
    Road Witch viffergyrl's Avatar
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    Re: CA-74 and backcountry San Diego County

    I believe Mr. Pashnit sells Butler maps on the PashnitMoto site.
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