June 4 2003 12:00 AM

On a rock, on a trail, on a bike and on a wave in San Diego County

Get outMatthew Irwin

Keith Doyle was standing in the hot shower fully-clothed in his cycling gear and trying to remember how he got there. His hands were still frozen in the gripping position when he remembered: That morning the sky was clear, and he headed out for a ride in Japatul Valley without checking the weather report. He ended up an hour and a half away from his car, pedaling furiously out of an icy storm and wearing little more than shorts and a helmet.

It was a mistake he made-once-10 years ago. Now he works at Black Mountain Bicycles, and Keith urges his clients to learn from his mistake: Access to adventure sports is not precipitated by ability, and the weather is another thing-be prepared and bring lots of water.

The following is for those who don't intend to spend the summer on their asses:

Mission Trails Regional Park-Green Heart of San Diego
Positioned in the middle of San Diego County, Mission Trails has enough hiking, biking and climbing for a whole weekend, says Todd Grimes, manager of outdoor outfitters Adventure 16. But the park is also perfect for morning and afternoon jaunts during the work week. Here are some top picks:

Climbing. From the visitor's center, Father Junipero Serra Trail leads to the park's predominant climbing areas: Mission Gorge, Middle Earth and Riverside Boulders. The climbs range from 5.6 to 5.11 and many of them are mixed (requiring alpine gear), but top-roping and bolted climbs are available.

Mountain biking. Keith Doyle suggests the Suycott Wash Loop on the saddle of North and South Fortuna mountains. The trail is a six-mile, intermediate-to-advanced ride offering grassland fire roads and steep, rocky single track.

Hiking. Cowles Mountain in the southern portion of the park is one of Grimes' favorites-three miles round-trip, but 1,200 feet one-way. The Fortuna Mountains offer a range of easy to difficult trails that boast the largest undeveloped stretch in San Diego, and the Old Mission Dam parking lot off Fr. Junpero Serra is a good place to start for short, moderate day hikes.

To the visitor's center, take I-15 North to Friars Road East. After Friars turns into Mission Gorge Road, turn left on Father Junipero Serra Trail. The trail is closed to cars 7 p.m. to 8 a.m., but you can park at the visitor's center to hike or bike. 619-668-3275, www.mtrp.org.

Cuyamaca Rancho State Park

At the southern end of Cleveland National Forest is Cuyamaca Rancho, another great place to start exploring the county. Mountain lions roam the area, so check with the ranger's station before you head out. And assume trails in the forest are closed, unless they are specifically designated "open."

Climbing. Stonewall Peak has three predominate faces-Sierra Club Wall, Lower Rock and West Face-all with climbs ranging from 5.5 to 5.10. This peak is popular for its top-rope railing routes and the low-rating traditional routes for new climbers and first lead climbs.

Mountain Biking. The Grand Loop is a 16.5-mile, beginner-to-intermediate trail on the border of the Cleveland wilderness. Just outside of the park to the north, the Big Laguna Loop (7.5-miles, intermediate to advanced) is known as the ride to define Southern California mountain biking. The Noble Canyon/Indian Trails route is another good one-17.3 miles of advanced riding on tight single track.

Hiking. Cuyamaca Peak is a 5.5-mile hike with some difficult sections, but it is San Diego's second highest peak and offers a view of the whole county, from the Anza-Borrego Desert to the Pacific Ocean. For a lengthier hike, go up to the Granite Springs camp, 11.5 miles, round-trip.

To the ranger station, take I-8 east to Highway 79 north about 40 miles, then follow the signs. 760-765-0755, www.cuyamaca.statepark.org.

Jordan's Top Three Climbing Spots
Jordan Keezell works at Solid Rock Climbing GymMt. Woodson. Woodson was known as the place to boulder in the late '80s, though top-rope and traditional climbs are abundant. I-8 east to Highway 67 north; Go three miles north of Poway Road.

Santee Boulders. Santee is perfect for late-afternoon bouldering after work. I-15 north to 52 east; go left on Mast Boulevard and park in the West Hills Park parking lot. The boulders are across the street.

Valley of the Moon. On the border of Mexico, "The Moon" has been known to host rave parties and border-crossings. You will need a 4WD vehicle, or a willingness to hike the 3.5 miles one-way. I-8 east, 1.5 hours to In-Ko-Pah Park Road, just inside the Imperial County border, and go south to Old Highway 80, where you will take a right. Drive .2 miles and take a left on the unmarked dirt road. One more left and drive south to one of the three parking lots.

Weekend climbing trips just outside of SD county
Idyllwild, in San Bernardino National Forest, is home to Vampire, a route that was once called Southern California's finest. The area is 7,000 feet at the base, so it stays cool throughout the summer. Culp Valley in Anza-Borrego State Desert is a boulderer's dream with room for new problems, though the wind can be strong and rattlesnakes abound.

Another classic mountain bike ride
Martha's Grove in Sycamore Canyon Open Space Preserve is an intermediate-to-advanced ride on a tight single track that ends on a wide fire road. Take I-15 north to the Poway Road exit and turn right. From Poway, turn right on Garden Road until you hit Sycamore Canyon Road, and then turn right.

The least civilized hike on the coast
La Jolla Shores to Torres Pines Beach-five miles, with half- to one-mile extensions around the Torres Pines Reservoir. This hike is one of the longest stretches of beach without highway, railroads or power lines.

A silent walk over a deep bridge
The Mortero Palms to Goat Canyon hike is four miles of hidden bowls and bountiful peaks ending at the deepest and longest trestle bridge in California. Take I-8 east to S-2 West to Mortero Wash.

Beaches for Surfing
"The thing about San Diego," says Sean Dale of Bob's Mission Surf, "is if you got to surf, there's always something out there.... The general rule is where there's parking, there's gonna be a crowd."

Beginner. With soft sand bottoms and slow breaking waves, Tourmaline Surfing Park (at the north end of Pacific Beach) and La Jolla Shores host a number of camps and lessons during the summer. About an hour north of Pacific Beach, the Del Mar and Oceanside beaches are less crowded, but still have gentle waves and soft shores.

Intermediate. Whole stretches of wave on Mission Beach break at same time, and the bottoms are all sand, but there are many stingrays in the area. Ocean Beach has great waves and sandbar breaks, but there is definitely some competition. The breaks on Swami's Beach in Encinitas fall over rock reefs, and while the area is best in winter, it is always crowded.

Expert. Black's Beach features hard, fast and powerful breaks, but San Diego's most well-known surfing spot is Windandsea, full of hard breaks, rock bottoms and lots of surfer attitude. The South Mission Jetty is the locals' beach, evoking two images: dangerous water and dangerous airs.

For a full list of San Diego County beaches and directions, see www.sandiego-online.com/metro/beaches. Most surf shops on the coast have rentals, and vendors set up rental tents on the beaches all summer long.

Mission Bay (the other beach)
Mission Bay is the place to learn kite-boarding. Kevin Straw of Mission Bay Aquatic Center says the sport marries wind-surfing and wake-boarding, requiring upper body strength and likely a whole summer of bailing to learn. MBAC offers classes in kite-boarding, as well as adult and youth programs in surfing, wind-surfing, rowing, sailing, wake-boarding and waterskiing.

Mission Bay Aquatic Center, lessons in everything water, 1001 Santa Clara Point. 858-488-9625. www.missionbayquaticcenter.com

Guides, gear and more info
Adventure 16, Inc. 4620 Alvarado Canyon Road. 619-283-2374. www.adventure16.com. "Get Out More" clinic, 7 p.m. July 2.
A Foot A Field in San Diego County by Jerry Schad
Solid Rock Climbing Gym. 2074 Hancock St. 619-299-1124. wwww.solidrockgym.com
San Diego Climbers' Coalition. www.giantsoftware.com/sdcc
San Diego County Climbing Guide by Dave Kennedy with Chris Hubbard
Black Mountain Bicycles. 9158 Mira Mesa Blvd. 858-566-0712. www.blackmtnbicycles.com
San Diego Mountain Bike Guide by Daniel Greenstadt
Cycling San Diego by Nelson Copp and Jerry Schad
Bob's Mission Surf. 4320 Mission Blvd. 858-483-8837
Ocean Beach Surf Shop. 4885 Newport Ave. 619-225-0674. www.obsurfshop.com
Rusty K Farrell, surf instructor. 858-274-1843. www.rustysurfschool.com
Surf Diva Surf School. 2160-A Avenida de la Playa. 858-454-8273
Cheap Rentals, 3685 Mission Blvd. 858-488-9070. www.cheap-rentals.com
Surfing Guide to Southern California by Bill Cleary and David Stern
Franko's San Diego Surfing Map
Diving Locker (Scuba equipment). 1020 Grand Ave. 858-272-1120. www.diving
Blue Escape Dive and Charter, Inc. 1617 Quivira Road, Ste. B. 619-223-3483. www.blueescape.com
Dana Landing, Market and Fuel Dock, motorized watersport rentals on Mission Bay. 2590 Ingraham St. 619-224-2513. www.danalanding.com


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