9 Trails, 2 Roads Loop
[out of 5]
|For:||Very strenuous and long, 5792 feet elevation gain|
Please don't let the rating scare you. This hike is mainly here to show you a whole host of loops and connectors you can use to make different hikes connecting several frontcountry trails.
Once a year the Sierra Club would do something they called the Ultimate Hike, a 17.5 mile hike linking 9 frontcountry trails. The same day, a bunch of runners would do the same route called the 9 Trails, but they would do a 35-mile there-and-back. The hike would connect nine trails from Jesusita Trail all the way to Romero Trail. In 2009, because the Tea and Jesusita Fires had burned many of the trails, and Jesusita and Tunnel Trails were still closed at the time when the hike/run was due to happen, an alternate was devised by both the Sierra Club and the 9 Trails runners, but not the same route. This 9 Trails, 2 Roads Loop is the Sierra Club’s alternate.
The loop begins at the Cold Spring trailhead, proceeds up to East Camino Cielo, then goes down the San Ysidro Trail. From there, the route follows the Edison Road, takes a detour to Buena Vista Trail, climbs the 15 switchbacks back to the Edison Road, and uses a connector to meet the Romero Trail. The Romero Trail is followed a short distance to its trailhead, then the route follows Bella Vista Road and Park Lane to the Old Pueblo Trail. The Old Pueblo Trail leads to the McMenemy Trail which leads to the N. Vincent/Saddlerock trail. The route briefly touches the Edison Road once more, then climbs through the bamboo tunnel of doom to the hot pools of Hot Springs Canyon. This is private property and so there is an option to avoid being a law-breaker and sticking to the Edison Road. The hiker rejoins Cold Springs, taking an alternate route some people call the Hippie House Trail that returns you to the Cold Spring trailhead.
The hike is about 15 to 18 miles round trip with an elevation gain of about 5792 ft. (My line drawn on the map was about 15 miles long, but by a GPS someone carried during the hike, it measured 17.9 miles.) However, the entire loop need not be done.
If you examine the map, which is actually an approximation in some areas because the topo lacks the trails, you can see that other alternate loops could be done. You could choose to loop only the two Cold Springs routes. You could choose to loop Cold Springs, San Ysidro, McMenemy, Saddlerock and Hot Springs. You could loop San Ysidro, Edison Road, Buena Vista and Old Pueblo Trail. You could loop Romero, Edison Road, Buena Vista and Bella Vista/Park Lane.
My map may be missing some of the actual trails, but Bryan Conant's Dick Smith Wilderness map will show them all.