The Baja Divide is a multi-use, established, off-pavement road popular among bike packers, campers, and hikers. Keep reading to discover its interesting features.
The Baja Divide is a relatively new and long biking route that follows the length of the Baja California peninsula. Although urban routing is new, it is well-established. You must pay for a tourist pass at the U.S. and Mexican border. The trail is intermediate, with a few challenging sections. The first 25 miles are paved and easily flowing. Other sections go around the Lower Otay reservoir, climb the Otay Mountain, and descend to engineer springs.
The Baja Divide starts at San Diego international airport, which is a few miles from San Diego’s downtown. The trail has various bike paths, singletrack, on-street bike lanes, and urban dirt paths that run all the way to Otay Mountain’s bottom.
The route’s well-traveled portions have lots of graded dirt roads. Some of them lead to fishing communities and ranches. We realized that many parts of the trail get zero to infrequent maintenance and are seasonally affected by the weather. When it rains, some parts are only passable by a 4 x 4 vehicle. Moreover, you will encounter rough, mountain, and sandy desert roads several times. We recommend Plus bikes with 3.0 –inch tires to stay afloat on sandy surfaces. For the rough mountain roads with cactus thorns, choose a tubeless wheel system.
The bike trail is surrounded by multiple suburban outlets, including REI, Home Depot, Trader Joe’s, and Sprouts. Its first section is pretty mellow, running around the lower end of Lake Otay. It goes on through the famous Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista near the Hall of Fame museum.
The most technical section of the trail is the Otay Mountain climb. The steepness begins at the Otay Lakes road and continues on the dirt road up the mountain. You can descend the mountain on the paved road at Engineer Springs and pass various rural communities on dirt roads until you get to Barret junction through the old wagon road. You can proceed to Tecate from Barret junction through the paved climb and descent.
The best thing about the Baja Divide route is the multiple re-supply points that make a self-supported biking tour possible.
The Baja Divide is surrounded by plenty of interesting landscapes and attractions. The BMX Hall of Fame museum is a worthwhile stop on the trail’s first section. Moreover, you will get stunning city views when you climb Otay Mountain. You can see the entire San Diego and neighboring cities like Tijuana at the top.
You can also stop at the historic Barret Junction café. Because of its post-war history, the café is like an informal museum with black and white photos, guns, and animals on its walls. Best of all, it offers a classic American menu.