Day Trip: Julian and Cuyamaca


One of the more popular destination rides in Southern California is to the Old West mountain town of Julian. Most motorcyclists know about this location, which is reached by way of the freeway and then some very easy and scenic road riding.

Julian is about a two hour drive from EagleRider Newport Beach. After picking up your rental bike, head south via CA-73 to I-5S. In approximately 70 miles, you’ll reach CA-78 toward Escondido.

Following the 78 can be a bit tricky as it often takes you through small towns and on surface streets before actually becoming a road again, but follow the signs and you’ll have no problems.

On your left, you will pass the San Diego Wild Animal Park; farther on the road climbs into the foothills and offers nice views of rolling hills and in springtime, green grass and wildflowers. Once you reach the equestrian town of Ramona, you’ll begin to head up into the Cleveland National Forest. The road can be quite populated with both car and motorcycle traffic, especially in the fall, when apple season is in full swing. For the most part, this is a nice, curving, mountainous road and the beautiful pine and oak trees and clear blue skies make for a perfect ride.

Once you hit Julian proper, turn right on Main Street and park. You’ll see plenty of other motorcycles parked along the street as well as a horse and carriage that you can take a ride in.

Julian was founded around 1851, but its first claim to fame came when former slave A.E. “Fred” Coleman discovered gold in a creek in 1869. Some four years later, James Madison brought a load of young apple trees to town and they flourished, resulting in Julian’s current local product.  Don’t leave town without trying a piece of apple pie!

apples julian

There is actually a motorcycle accessories shop in Julian called Hog Heaven (what else?), located at 2016 Main Street. They offer necessities like thermal undergarments, gloves, clothing and cargo.

One place that is sort of off the beaten path, but worth a visit is the Julian Book House located at 2230 Main Street. A small, independent bookstore, they specialize in rare and used books. I have found many treasures among their shelves.

If you have time to explore, I recommend a visit to the Julian Pioneer Cemetery, located up a steep set of stairs at Farmer Road and A Street. Julian has a long Old West history and if you want to learn about it on your own instead of via the local museum (which is also good), wander among the crumbling headstones and grave markers here.

pioneer cemetery julian

During apple season, several of the orchards offer “U-pick” tours where you can pick your own apples. Check with the individual orchards and ranches for details as some require appointments.

Julian has several wineries as well as hard cider and beer breweries that all offer tastings. Check each one for more details and remember alcohol impairs your ability to operate a motorcycle, so book a room if need be.

Of course there are plenty of good restaurants in town such as the Julian Café, Miner’s Diner, Mom’s Pies and Rongbranch Ranch where the fried pickles are a must!

However, if you want to see some more beautiful scenery and take a short drive, head southeast on Main Street and then turn right onto CA-79. About 8 miles down this peaceful country road, you’ll find Lake Cuyamaca Restaurant with beautiful views of Lake Cuyamaca from either the outside deck or dining room. They have a reasonably priced and varied menu and are open until 8:00 PM. Their address is 15027 Highway 79 in Julian.

lake cuyamaca

If you head south on the 79, you will pass by Cuyamaca State Park before merging onto I-8 W toward San Diego. Take CA-67N to CA-52W, which will hook you up with the I-805N. This will become I-5N. From here, you can hop back onto CA-73N to CA-55N to return your rental bike at EagleRider Newport Beach. This route creates a sort of loop, but you can certainly just go back the way you came up.

Fall is the perfect time to visit Julian, so plan a trip with friends and reserve your rental bikes from EagleRider Newport Beach today.


1 thought on “Day Trip: Julian and Cuyamaca

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s