Posted: June 24, 2010 at 1:49 am | Tags: Angeles National Forest, Mt Baldy Lodge, Mt Baldy Road, Mt Baldy Ski Lifts, San Bernardino National Forest
Mt. Baldy is always an epic adventure. Previously, I wrote a report on the climb up to Mt. Baldy ski lifts via Glendora Mountain Road and Glendora Ridge Road. If you are unfamiliar with that route, I would highly recommend reading up on it: Glendora Mountain Rd, Glendora Ridge Rd & Mt Baldy Rd (to the Ski Lifts!). It is arguably the most scenic, incredible ride in the area. This post, however, is about the more direct way up. First, a few stats:
Total Ride: 12.6 miles at 7% with over 4600 feet of elevation gain
2 separate 2 mile long sections at greater than 9% grade
Multiple 15% ramps
8.1% average grade for the 7.2 mile long section above the tunnels
8.8% average grade for the final 4 miles above the village (almost 1900 feet in elevation gain)
9.2% average grade for the 2 mile Hogsback section (last tunnel to just before Mt. Baldy Village)
10.0% average grade for the 1.9 mile section from Icehouse Canyon through the switchbacks to Manker Flats (1000 feet in <2 miles!)
14-15% average grade for the final .3 mile section to the ski lifts (230 feet elevation gain)
Needless to say, this is a stout climb. It is definitely one of the hardest climbs in southern California. It is long enough that you can’t just power up it (unlike many of the Santa Monica climbs) and it gets progressively harder (just as your legs get tired and the elevation starts robbing you of oxygen).
For more stats and an excellent elevation profile (broken down into lots of sections and with landmarks noted), check out SoCalVelo’s Mt. Baldy Road Page.
Anyway, despite all the riding and climbing I do, I had never actually ridden the portion of Mt. Baldy Rd from Claremont to Mt. Baldy Village (generally opting to ride Glendora Mountain Rd and Glendora Ridge Rd). Given how famous this climb is, I was long overdue. I started my ride today at Padua Avenue Park:
You can also start from the intersection of Mt. Baldy Rd and Mills Ave (the most common starting point). Either way, they are close to each other and both provide quick access to the climb. After turning onto Mt. Baldy Rd, the first part of the climb is easy as you pass through the last of Claremont’s residential neighborhoods:
The climbing then ramps up a little bit (but at a still moderate grade):
Very quickly, the scenery becomes very nice:
Yup, one other cyclist braving the near 90 degree heat of the bottom section. While a slight breeze kept things almost tolerable, I would recommend an early start in the summer as the climb to the village can get rather hot. I was hoping to pace him for a while, but, sadly, he turned off onto Mountain Ave a short while later:
At this point, the mountains really start surrounding you:
Impressive canyon to be riding up:
Still some nice color along the way:
Keep in mind that some of the peaks you see as you go up hit 10,000 feet in elevation:
Read the Full Ride Report
Posted: June 14, 2010 at 5:27 am | Tags: Angeles Crest Hwy, CA-39, Dawson Saddle, Hwy 39, Islip Saddle, San Gabriel Canyon Rd, SR-39
Note: As of March 2014 a rock and mud debris field is covering 39 a few miles south of Angeles Crest at Snow Spring:
The above is a 360 degree photo sphere – drag it around to see all of the scene. If anyone rides 39 and finds that this debris field has been cleared, please do leave a comment!
This climb is one of the best sustained climbs in southern California. Starting from 1600 feet elevation, 39 climbs continuously to its high point where it intersects with Angeles Crest Highway at an elevation of 6800 feet. From here, the climb continues up Angeles Crest to its high point at Dawson Saddle – elevation 7901 feet! Yes, that’s right – about 6300 feet of climbing without a single descent. In southern California, no less.
Actually, in the interest of technical accuracy, there are a couple of descents tilting just barely down that do last for a couple dozen feet. For all intents and purposes though, there are no descents for this 22.5 mile long climb. The whole climb averages just over 5.3%, with the majority section along 39 averaging about 5.6%. There is nothing here that is tough with respect to grade – it is only tough because of the rather large amount of climbing involved.
This alone should be enough to entice those riders who enjoy long, sustained climbs. If not though, there are two other good reasons to try this out. First, it is very scenic – especially late spring/early summer when the mountains are nice and green (this year was probably particularly good since we had a fair amount of precipitation). Second, most of this climb is free from traffic. Yes, all traffic. Due to road damage higher up, most of the road is completely closed to vehicles. Of course, this means, for most of the climb, you are entirely isolated from civilization. Bring more water/nutrition than usual to be safe (a camelback is not a bad idea for this ride). A riding partner would also be a good idea. This situation may change relatively soon though. Word is the road to Crystal Lake, at the very least, is hoped to be opened sometime later this summer. When that happens, there will likely be a snack bar open at Crystal Lake itself, so you will have access to water and food there. For now though, err on the side of caution and pack extras.
This time, I parked just above the OHV area along 39 – about 10 miles north of Azusa. You can also park in Azusa and add those 10 miles to your ride. The 10 mile stretch is scenic, rolling hills that gradually climb upwards (starting elevation ~800ft, finishing elevation ~1600ft). You get nice views of Morris Reservoir and San Gabriel Reservoir along the way, including ~1 mile long descents next to each one. However, traffic is heavy (especially on weekends) along these sections and the shoulder is often narrow, so I find it to be not so pleasant. I rode this section the first time I did this climb, and would still semi-recommend it as the scenery is pretty cool. However, if you want to skip this warm-up and start right at the point that the traffic dies down and the climb actually starts in earnest, park where I parked. There are a couple of large parking areas right after the OHV area. They are easy to spot – right after the OHV area and the first true parking lots that you see. There are a few lots – all right below and above West Fork (West Fork, by the way, is a paved road that is also closed to vehicles and is a popular hiking and cycling road…about 15 miles round trip for that section…I haven’t tried it but plan on adding it in next time). On this Sunday, there were probably a hundred or so cars parked around this area – quite popular! Note that you will need a Forest Service Adventure Pass to park anywhere around here – $5 for a day pass and $30 for an annual pass. Worth the money, in my opinion, to support areas like this.
Starting from this parking area, the scenery is immediately beautiful:
Cloud cover provided shade for much of the first part of the climb (nice to have given an 80 degree starting temperature):
There are a few stretches that stay straight as an arrow for longer than expected given the ruggedness of the mountains:
Looking up the canyon:
Beautiful pavement here:
Truly a beautiful valley:
Right after the last shot:
Talk about a scenic backdrop for this road! Even better, the permanent closure for cars is just slightly ahead. The previous section is also often closed to cars – but, at least on this June Sunday, was open to cars (although the traffic level was very light). Just after the gate that closes the road to vehicles (duck under or around with your bike):
Amazing. A road like this, in scenery like this, all to your self.
Read the Full Ride Report
Posted: June 18, 2009 at 12:46 am | Tags: Angeles National Forest, Glendora, Glendora Mountain Road, Glendora Ridge Road, Mt Baldy Lodge, Mt Baldy Road, Mt Baldy Ski Lifts, San Bernardino National Forest
Just like the last post, this is another ride that I did over a month ago. And, also just like the last post, I wanted to get this up before I forgot all of the details! This ride was done on May 1st with my mom and was my second time riding these roads..but the first time making it all the way up to the ski lifts!
We parked on Grand Avenue just north of Sierra Madre Avenue in a nice residential neighborhood. Heading east along Sierra Madre, we got some mostly flat warmup for a couple of miles before heading north on Glendora Mountain Road. Note that this left turn looks like every other left turn in the area – keep an eye out for it. A mile later (with some minor climbing) and we round the bridge/bend that is the real start to the climb. The next 4 miles give you some solid, consistent climbing. Not steep by any means, but a rather consistent 6% grade that affords some beautiful views. The day was rather overcast, but the view looking back down toward the switchbacks we had just climbed was still great:
And one of the many sweeping curves you will encounter along Glendora Mountain Road (of course, there are many tighter curves as well!):
A little farther and you get to a nice ridge line with views of the mountains on your left and views of the valley on your right. This photo is actually from my earlier ride up here (the rest of the photos will be a mix of this ride and my previous ride…if it is sunny in the pic, it was from my first ride!):
The last stretch before hitting the maintenance shed (which is right before the turnoff onto Glendora Ridge Road):
This is the classic ride/time trial – see how fast you can go from the bridge at the bottom to the maintenance shed. Just about 8 miles long. I need to ride this one again and actually time myself for this portion. And the curve at the maintenance shed:
At this point, you have already gained just over 2,000 ft in climbing. Less than half a mile later (and with a small descent thrown in) and you hit Glendora Ridge Road (peel off to the right for this one..it is the first paved turnoff you will see). This road is the epitome of scenic. One lane road meandering along a ridge with some 10,000 ft peaks serving as a backdrop:
Seriously, this is pretty tough to top:
And one more along the same stretch:
In case it isn’t obvious, this stretch is one of my all-time favorites. A few miles on and the climbing gets a little more consistent once again (but pretty shallow all things considered):
Looking back from a turnout:
Also, I should mention that this is a number of miles in on Glendora Ridge Road and I can count on my hands the number of vehicles that have passed. Truly a road that you will have to yourself.
And finally, the high point of Glendora Ridge Road:
All the way up to 4527 ft. Not bad at all so far! So, what next? How about 500 ft of descending?
Wonderful, fast (although a bit short-lived) descent:
Ah yes, Mt Baldy Rd. And the town of Mt Baldy Village. This town is quite small, but quaint, and offers a couple of restaurants and lodges. We will get back to that later, however. For now, we continue on up. Shortly north of the village, we take a well deserved break along the river and refuel a bit:
Back on the bikes, and some more climbing. Some strong climbing indeed – the grade, the elevation and the previous 20 miles all combine to make this rather tough. Pass by the turnoff for Icehouse Canyon and we pass by an important marker:
5000 ft! Sweet! And just 3 more miles..
3 more miles of over 9% climbing with lots of 15% sections. This would be tough enough on fresh legs…but, after thousands of feet of climbing already and over 20 miles, you will notice it! And finally, at the ski lift parking lot looking down:
Amazingly, the clouds started to clear just as we finished the climb. Perfect timing. And one happy mom (I think she was rather pleased to have finished such an epic ride!):
And relishing the fact that she did not have any more 15% climbing to do!
Cruise back down to the Village…well, actually, not the most fun descent. With such steep pitches and sharp curves, I had to stop multiple times to let the brakes/wheels cool down a bit. Didn’t really enjoy that. But, we made it back down to Mt Baldy Village and stopped by Mt Baldy Lodge for a truly tasty meal:
A juicy burger and salty fries taste so good after hours of hard riding. So, after this much needed stop, we head back to Glendora Ridge Road to head back towards the car. While being mostly downhill, this did mean some minor climbs as well. At least they were rather scenic:
And some flowers in bloom as well:
Hitting Glendora Mountain Road, the descent is quite fun. A bit more traffic, and some semi-tight curves, but otherwise a great descent! Finally back to the car, we headed over to Sierra Madre and grabbed a beer on the patio of Lucky Baldwin’s. Cool place. And a great wrap up to the ride.
Anyway, this is a classic SoCal climb. If you live in the LA area, or visit out here and have access to a bike, this is a must-do ride. The last part to the ski lifts is not essential..but, if you enjoy some punishment, is a must!
The route map:
6400 ft of climbing according to mapmyride. 10,000 or so according to my garmin. So, probably around 8000 in reality…not a bad climb! And, if you are only interested in the climb from the village to the ski lifts, here you go:
Pretty steep! And finally, the pictures from my first ride up (without the village to ski lifts climb) can be viewed here and the pictures from the ride all the way to the ski lifts with my mom can be viewed here.