The Ortega Highway

Back in Las Vegas we had to take Dad’s bike into the shop for some maintenance.  At the shop, we were talking to one of the guys about our road trip, and upcoming plans to stay in Huntington Beach, CA.  When he heard Southern California, he described what he called one of the best motorcycle rides in the country along the Ortega Highway.  He also mentioned a great biker bar along the way that was a great stopping point.  This was exactly what Aaron and I were looking forward to yesterday.When we first pulled onto the Ortega Highway near Dana Point we were a little disappointed to see a four lane highway, however it quickly converged to two lanes.  Actually, considering the number of rigs running through this route it was extremely narrow.  This was another incredible ride with unbelievable scenery.  In contrast to the desert rides we experienced up to this point, this was through lush terrain; green mountains covered with short brush and scattered with boulders, and a valley lined with a river and trees.Around lunch time we reached Hell’s Kitchen, a fun biker bar near the highest elevation; a perfect stopping point.  My philly cheese steak and fries were alright, not the best I’ve ever had, but the ambiance of this place covers for anything the food lacks…the fun welcome sign, condiments stored in a motorized coffin, and easy going biker atmosphere.By the time we reached Hells Kitchen, we were close to the end of the ride and contemplated turning back.  Thank god we didn’t, the last few miles along the steep mountain cliffs down to Lake Elsinore were the best.  The edges of the mountains shot straight down to the bottom leaving a completely unobstructed view of the lake backed by white cap mountains.  The narrow road with no shoulders or guard rails was cut out of the sides of the mountain leaving extremely nerve racking cliffs.  I wanted to look to the side and enjoy the view, but I was too focused on staying in my lane.Another amazing day…we’ll be back here again for sure.  Aaron and I both agreed that this needs to be ridden several times: once to learn the route and stop and enjoy the overlooks, once riding straight through to enjoy the ride, once to capture it on video, and several more times just because.  Aar, this is another one of my best days, and for me, the essence of what this trip is supposed to be about.  You and Ry are the best!


About bhoefen

Going on a road trip.
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9 Responses to The Ortega Highway

  1. Cousin Mike says:

    Wow–awesome is about all I can say, but I’ll try to babble out a few more awkward Phys Ed teacher sentences. I’m really jealous of the scenic ride. What an experience. I’ll be thinking of you as I now go out to shovel the driveway–don’t worry, I’ve got plenty of time to get rid of the 10 inches of white fluffy stuff–it’s a snow day!!!

  2. Aaron says:

    Bret, what an amazing day! Another day riding amazing country with you! Next time we can race through the hair pin 180 degree turns! See you at the bottom! I look forward to finding another road like the Ortega.

  3. Marianne Borrelli says:

    A Good Ride …….filling your heart and soul with sublime beauty in the perfection of nature and all that is good.
    Now as a mother’s standpoint be careful and stay focused on the highway!!! Eyes on the road guys. Let someone else do the picture taking!!!!
    Love you! Have fun be safe!!

    Auntie Cuz

  4. Uncle Lee and Aunt Sharon says:

    Sounds like a great day and WOW – what gorgeous scenery, mountains and blue skies – what are they again? Glad you guys had such an amazing ride. Enjoy, ride safe and I second having someone else do the video! Bet you could sweet talk that cute, talented videographer to take some great pics/movies for you! 🙂

  5. Aunt Bo says:

    Sounds like a great day! I am with the other MOM’s….Be careful (you can always tell a MOM comment—kind of funny).
    What’s up with the DC comments..anti government I guess. Maybe it is a biker thing that I do not know about.
    Snow did not really materialize here in Rochester like they thought it would. All schools are closed but it was a normal 6 inch storm. Very disappointing, I was really looking forward to a big storm 

  6. Lisa says:

    We sure do envy the beautiful ride. We can only imagine the peace you guys experiance. You have to get to Maui, Hawaii. It’s the same sense of beauty and wonder. Words and pictures just can’t capture the feeling. The sight, smell, sounds and taste are beyond human understanding. Many of your pictures remind me of Maui.
    We’ve missed you Cousin Mike, too bad you had to shovel a little snow. Aunt Bo, not ALL schools were closed today. Wayland-Cohocton was in full session. We missed you Bet’s. Keep riding SLOW in a good direction. More MOM humor.

  7. Cousin Geoffrey says:

    Hey Guys,

    I’m still living vicariously through you all everyday and loving every minute of it! The Ortega Highway looked incredible! Did you see where they make the ‘Taco Kits’?What a find, but I’m sure there will be many more where that came from!

    Here’s a thought while you are staying in Huntington Beach…A few years ago I did a hiking trip on the Pacific Crest Trail in the Angeles National Forest from Wrightwood to Agua Dulce. Wrightwood is about an hour North East of LA, just off Rt. 15 North of San Bernandino – in fact you probably drove very close to it on your way from Vegas. I remember the trail crossing rt. 2 that wound through the mountains. The hike was incredible and I think that the ride on rt. 2 would be the same! What I found surprising was how remote it was there for being so close to LA. There were clear skies in the mountains, but I could frequently see the light pollution from LA pentrating the smog hoovering over the city. Part of the road was closed when I hiked through due to snow (might want to check the snow pack before going) and I actually slept under the stars on the pavement. I think you guys would enjoy the road (if it’s open)!

    Bret – as always, you are constantly in my thoughts and prayers! Continue to enjoy everyday of your amazing adventure!

    Cousin Geoffrey

  8. Debbie says:

    Hello Cali Road Warriors!

    Such beautiful pictures–and such a contrast to what we’re all seeing back here in the east. At least, no snow for Virginia during SNOWMAGGEDON 2011. I hope you bought a t-shirt from Hell’s Kitchen if they had them for sale. Now that’s a t-shirt with a story behind it. Big, bad-ass bikers that you guys are 🙂

    Love you!! Keep safe and looking forward to the next Hoefen adventure.


  9. Is this #1 on the list of biking stretches? We need lists 🙂

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