Scouting back roads in Julian, CA


About 40 miles North of the USA/Mexico border is a tiny little town called Julian. I can't remember the last time I was down there, so I decided to change up my normal weekend canyon carving routine and head South.

Using Google Maps I was able to plan a simple route, but I wanted to leave a little flexibility in case we came across a promising detour. Two buddies and myself made our way down to Oceanside and headed inland on Hwy 78. Next time around, I'm going to leave little earlier and take Hwy 74 and drop down the 15 instead.

Things didn't really get interesting until we passed through Escondido. It's much busier in that area than I remember. After an hour or so we took a break and ate at the Apple Country restaurant in Santa Ysabel before gassing up again.

Julian is one of those cool little towns that attracts all types of people and can make you forget that you're in California. All of the farm land and country roads make it seem like you could be anywhere.

The fun really began when we continued East on Hwy 78 towards Anza-Borrego State Park. The twisties and elevation changes were a blast. There were even a handful of long sweepers to sink into. Once you get through about 6 miles of twisties, Hwy 78 turns into Banner grade, a perfect 2-lane straight away with a huge elevation change in the middle. It was better than any roller coaster I've even been on. You could hit it flat out with miles of visibility—a moment of absolute paradise.

That section was so much fun, we turned around and did it all again. After making our way back through Julian, we took Hwy 79 North and made our way to Hwy 76 just South of Palomar Mountain. I was really surprised how fun Hwy 76 was from the Lake Henshaw area up until Pala Indian Reservation. It has a nice mix of twisties and sweepers that rounded out a great day of riding in Southern California.

I plan on visiting Julian again in the near future. Next time I'm going to leave a little earlier so we can get to the fun parts sooner. There are several nearby roads like the S2 near Anza-Borrego that I hear are great as well. There is plenty to explore in future trips with nearby Palomar Mountain and the Salton Sea, I just wish it was a little easier to get down there.