Riding with the ultimate Irvine mountain biker

Mountain biker Jeff Tong says The Irvine Ranch has a variety of bike trails, ranging from easy to moderate to challenging – all within a few minutes of home.

Springtime is perfect for mountain biking on The Irvine Ranch – the mornings are cool, the hills turn green and there are so many trails.

We asked Jeff Tong, who’s been mountain biking in and around Irvine for 25 years, about his passion.

Why ride mountain bikes? I’ve always enjoyed the outdoors. It’s an excellent way to stay healthy, see good scenery, have fun and hang out with friends.

What do you enjoy most about riding local trails? I like the feeling of conquering uphills and going downhill. Riding a bike also allows you to cover a lot of territory compared to taking a hike.

Favorite trails? There are many great trails in and around Irvine, like Black Star Canyon, Santiago Oaks, Whiting Ranch, El Moro Canyon, Laguna Coast Wilderness Park, Peters Canyon, Quail Hill and Bommer Canyon. What’s good about Irvine is that everywhere is pretty much reachable within a few minutes. From my house, I can go to any number of trails that offer a diverse experience. There’s no better place to live than Irvine for mountain biking.

What misconceptions do people have about mountain biking? One big misconception is that it’s too challenging for most people. A good thing about The Irvine Ranch is that it has everything from easy, family-friendly trails to moderate and challenging trails. It’s an easy sport to get into because there are plenty of trails around here.

Any tips for beginners? Don’t go by yourself when you are starting out. Go with people who know the trails and act as a guide. Try docent-led rides with Irvine Ranch Conservancy. It’s an excellent way to enjoy what The Irvine Ranch has to offer. There are a lot of good options. The best time is right now because the mornings are cool and everything is turning green.

What’s your ride? A 2010 Specialized Epic Expert. I sometimes wish I could get a new one, but it’s still good. It’s got a carbon-fiber frame, which makes it really light to help climb hills. Its dual suspension and disc brakes make descents more comfortable and safer.


The Irvine Ranch has diverse mountain biking terrain. Here are three destinations to try.

Laguna Coast Wilderness Park

See California as it has existed for thousands of years. From wind-buffeted bluffs to challenging trails, the 7,000-acre Laguna Coast Wilderness Park puts you in one of the last remaining coastal canyons in Southern California. Forty miles of trails lead through oak and sycamore
woodlands and up onto ridges with the ocean breeze to keep you cool.

The 7,000-acre Laguna Coast Wilderness Park features 40 miles of bike trails.

Black Star Canyon

A gateway to the backcountry of the Cleveland National Forest and northern Santa Ana Mountains, Black Star Canyon is known for its soaring red rock cliffs, formed more than 20 million years ago, with vistas of Irvine Lake and the Pacific coast. Explore miles of trails along vast hillsides of coastal sage scrub, riparian and grassland habitats.

Peters Canyon Regional Park
Ideal for beginning bikers to build confidence and stamina, Peters Canyon encompasses 340 acres of trails crisscrossing coastal sage scrub and freshwater marshes. A 5.5-mile loop trail provides a few steep slopes and slightly technical sections, but otherwise it’s an easy ride that rewards you with mountain views to the east and ocean views to the west.