Yesterday I drove up to the LA area to get in some riding in San Gabriel Mountains. It had been nearly two years (May of 2012) since my last time out of these trails. (Note: In the process of getting this post together I came across of bunch of pictures from that last visit that had went unpublished so this post contains a mix of pictures from both. My cohort in grime was wearing the checkered shirt yesterday if you need to know which one are more recent.)
We did a modified shuttle/point-to-point ride on this day. We meet up off of Windsor Street in Altadena near NASA’s JPL and left a truck there where the ride was going to finish up. We then went up HWY 2 and rode in the Chilao Flats area where we got in some riding on Mount Hilyer and the Silver Moccasin Trails as well as couple other bits. The weather was great and the riding was just as nice but the damage from the Station Fire really did a number on this area.
After knocking out a nice loop in that area, we got back in the truck and road over to Eaton Saddle on Mount Wilson Road. From there we hopped on the old Mt Lowe Road where we did a bit of fire road climbing. This is really cool section of fire road that even includes a tunnel.
After about a mile on the fire road we turned off onto the Mt Lowe single track. There were some challenging rocky bits on this climb that took us up to around 5,540 feet as the trail were around the eastern flank of the mountain. This would be the highest evaluation we would see for the rest of the day as the truck was down at around 1200 feet. Meaning we were in for some killer descending.
The Mount Lowe trail was tight and fast with some rocky bits to keep you on your toes. There was some exposure on this trail as well but mostly the kind that is going to leave a mark versus the assuredly kill you kind.
The Mt Lowe trail eventually dumped us back out onto the Mt Lowe road where we quickly turned off onto the Sam Merrill Trail. Oh My what an awesome bit of trail this was. I particularly enjoyed the opening section that has been spared by the first that was wonderfully wooded with tight single track on the rocky hillside. Laughter could be heard through the woods during our transit through here.
The trail eventually dumps you back out into open scrub brush and views all the way down into the LA basin are to be had. You can also see quite a bit of the trail that lay ahead.
The section down to Echo Mountain has plenty of technical goodness, tight switch backs and some exposure spots that could ruin your day or year.
Once we got down to Echo Mountain, we climbed the Echo Mountain Trail back over to the lower parts of Mt Lowe road. This trail follows along the old track bed of the Mt Lowe Railway which operated between 1893 to 1936. The cement foundations for trestles are still in place.
Just a 100 yards or so down the old road from where the Echo Mountain trail comes out is the top of the Sunset Ridge trail.
More downhill goodness ensued for about the next 3.3 miles (with a short road interconnect) where the trail comes out in the Millard campground. After the campground there was about a mile of fire road climbing to keep you honest. From there we hooked with the El Prieto trail.
This trail was just a hoot with some fast flowing sections, creek crossing and technical bits to keep you on your toes. While we were overall shedding off elevation there we enough undulations to get some quick climbing grunts in.
The El Prieto trail dumps out onto a fireroad that feeds down to Arryo Blvd (closed to vehicles) where it is followed back up into civilization and Windsor St where the other truck was waiting. After we drove back up to the top to grab the other truck we kicked back and enjoyed the view while shooting breeze before getting heading off for the rest of our weekend. It was way good times on the bike today. (I’m planning a get a page with directions and GPS data up on this ride in the coming weeks)