Info on Lake Elsinore
Info on San Juan Capistrano
The Lookout Roadhouse
Pashnit's Ortega Highway writeup
Click Here for Route Instructions
[Updated February 20, 2007. The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) is embarking on a 3-year Safety
Improvement Project on State Route 74 ľOrtega Highway. Construction begins on February 20, 2007 at 8:30 p.m. with a full
closure of the highway.
Full closures will take place during nighttime hours of 8:30 p.m. to 4:30 a.m. Ortega Highway will be reduced to one-lane of travel for the duration of the project. During the day, flagging operations will be in place. In addition, during peak commute hours, priority will be given to westbound morning commute traffic and eastbound evening commute traffic.]
The Ortega Highway (Rt. 74) is located North of Camp Pendleton and just South of L.A. You can ride it in either direction but we normally ride from West to East in order to enjoy the great view as you descend to Lake Elsinore. If the weather is hot, we will ride from West to East in order to save the cool ride along I-5 until last. Unfortunately, the ride requires expressway riding to get to Ortega and often to get back. The ride is about 110 miles and takes about 5 hours.
The ride begins somewhere in Oceanside -- often one of the shopping centers near Jeffereson and Rt. 78 just East of I-5. We take Rt. 78 West to I-5 and then head North on I-5. Traffic is often heavy but the view of the ocean and Camp Pendleton makes the trip pleasant. You south stay on I-5 until you reach the Rt. 74 Ortega Highway exit at San Juan Capistrano. Make sure that you have sufficient gas to reach Lake Elsinore since there is essentially only wilderness in between. You should continue East on Rt. 74 into the Ortega area.
The Ortega highway terrain can be described as rolling hills becoming more mountainous as you head East. These mountains don't have as many visible boulders as you would see Northeast of Escondido. I believe the land fits Simon Parry's description of a brick that is tilted where you gradually climb and have a sharp drop at the end (at Lake Elsinore).
The traffic can be relatively heavy and this is a very popular sport bike road. The road has a lot of tight turns and changes in elevation. The speed limit will typically be 55 so your pace can be brisk. There are numerous turnouts that can be used for taking breaks and pictures. You will see several campgrounds along the way and a stop about halfway where you can buy drinks and snacks.
Narrative continues after the map.
As you proceed Eastward, you will notice that temperature will slowly rise as you get farther from the ocean. The terrain will also become more arid and rocky. The road has big sweeping turns which make for fun riding. Be sure to watch for oncoming traffic that may cross the double yellow line.
Watch for Kileen Trail on your right just before you reach the descent above Lake Elsinore. You can follow it to your right (South) for about 5 miles to where you can watch hang gliders and parasails. You can continue another 4 miles South on a one lane road and reach the Wildomar Off Road Vehicle Area. You road ends here but the ride coming and going is quite interesting.
. The best part of the ride is when you begin your descent to Lake Elsinore. There is a vista with a great view of the lake. This is just about a small restaurant called The Lookout Roadhouse. This is a popular biker hangout. Be cautious of the hard packed dirt parking lot.
The descent to Lake Elsinore features more big sweeping turns with a great view to the East as you work your way down. You will eventually reach a Tee where Rt. 74 continues to your left and Grand Avenue goes to your right. You have the option of following Rt. 74 to I-15 and taking the expressway south to Rt. 78 and home. We prefer to take Grand Avenue South and parallel to I-15. We usually get gas in Lakeland Village and get bottled water to rehydrate..
The route follows Grand Avenue South until it ends at Clinton Keith road. Turn left on Clinton Keith road and almost immediately turn right on Washington. Follow Washington until it ends. Once again, you turn left and then turn right on Jefferson. Jefferson will take you into Temecula. Sometimes we follow Jefferson thru Temecula Old Town. There are a number of interesting restaurants and stores. Other times, we turn right on Rancho California and follow Sandia Creek thru the DeLuz Canyon area. See our DeLuz Canyon ride for a detailed map.
We usually split up at this point and end the ride. We hope you liked our course.
View along Ortega Highway.
View from Lake Elsinore Vista