North County Cruisers Motorcycle Club

Sunrise Highway Trip Description

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Info on Julian

Sunrise Highway Map

Our sunrise highway ride, like many of our other longer rides, is best suited for moderate weather. During January thru March, sunrise highway may be covered with snow or at least can be cold since it climbs to over 5,000 feet. During July thru October, the ride gets fairly close to the desert and can be rather warm as you approach Pine Valley. The ride can start from anywhere near Escondido and will take a cruiser about 5 hours to cover 140 miles including breaks and lunch.

The ride follows Rt. 78 thru Ramona to and from Julian. This route is common to many of our rides since there are no alternatives. This is a scenic route but can also have heavy traffic stacked up behind a slow moving vehicle.

Julian features a wide variety of shops, especially for antiques. There are a number of restaurants that are known for apple pie and other desserts. Julian has an apple festival each year and this is a good time to avoid due to the heavy traffic. There is only one gas station in Julian and it is located on the Eastern edge of town. Almost next to the gas station is Rt. 79 which heads south while 78 continues East. The ride follows Rt. 79 South.

Julian Vista
View East from the Vista near Julian.

Several miles down Rt. 79 is a vista to your left which is worth a stop. You will have a great view of the mountains and the desert to the East. Continuing South on Rt. 79, the road becomes a lot more challenging with tight turns thru the Cuyamaca Mountains forest. You are watching for Sunrise Highway on your left. You will see it just before you reach Lake Cuyamaca.

The ride turns left (East) on S1, Sunrise Highway. Sunrise Highway has little traffic and features slow sweeping turns. This is a popular road for sport bikes and cruisers. Initially, the terrain is rolling hills which gradually change into heavy forest. There are several turnouts with great views. Some are paved and some are gravel so be careful before you pull off the road.

Sunrise View
View East from Sunrise Highway Vista

The route winds thru the forest past the ranger station and a number of campgrounds. There are a number of restroom facilities along the way. Once you reach Mt. Laguna, sunrise highway swings to the Southwest and descends as it approaches I-8. This will be the warmest portion of the ride since you are the closest to the desert.

Before you reach Interstate 8, you should turn on Old Highway 80 and follow it thru the town of Pine Valley. Pine Valley has several restaurants, Frosty Burger, and a gas station. Be aware that Frosty Burger and the gas station do not have public restrooms. The restaurants won't let you use their restrooms unless you are a customer. However, there is a small park on your right with clean restrooms.

The ride continues Westward on Old Highway 80 thru the small town of Guatay to Rt. 79 where you will turn right to head North. Route 79 is another great twisty road but is often busy with Lake Cuyamaca traffic. You will pass thru the Cuyamaca State Park and should start watching for Engineers road, on your left, when you see the Lake. Turn left on Engineers road when you reach it.

Engineers road is a narrow 1 1/2 lane road that snakes thru the Cuyamaca Rancho State Park. Traffic is very light and there are several 180 degree, level switchbacks. There are several homes but the majority of the area is wooded mountainside. There are several points with great views but no designated turnouts. To enjoy the view, you will have to stop on the road. Engineers road ends at Boulder Creek.

Caution: Traffic is normally very light but be wary of on-coming traffic during tight turns.

Boulder Creek is dirt to your left so you should turn right on Boulder Creek. The road will continue to snake around and will vary in quality and width. Your road will end at a Tee at Eagle Peak road. You turn left here and stay on Eagle Peak. Eventually, your road will Tee into Pine Hill road where you should again turn left. This road is wider and more heavily traveled. It will eventually Tee into Rt. 78 just West of Julian. The ride turns left on 78 towards Santa Ysabel..

The ride Northwest on Rt. 78 is scenic with sweeping turns. Traffic will be more heavy. We usually stop in Santa Ysabel at the gas station and then at the Julian Pie Company for a slice of apple pie. There is also a restaurant and Dudley's Bakery in Santa Ysabel. The ride continues Westward on Rt. 78 to Ramona. There are two possible side routes which I have described on other rides. You can visit the Lake Sutherland Dam or take Old Julian Highway into Ramona. By this point, we are usually tired and ready to head straight for home.