Southern California - Lake Arrowhead via CA-18 -- Opinions?
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09-18-07, 11:11 PM
Is CA-18 (Rim of the World Hwy) safe to ride?
I have an event to attend in Lake Arrowhead in two weeks (9/29). I am considering riding up from the Riverside Amtrak station. If anyone has experience with or is familiar with CA-18, I would appreciate your opinions whether it is appropriate for riding.
09-18-07, 11:28 PM
Stuart, I posted a similar question on the SoCal board on Road Bike Review. One responder mentioned he had ridden up CA-18 ad CA-138. I ended up riding from Pasadena to San Diego rather than ride from Pasadena to Arrowhead. And given the temperatures that day I'm really glad.
My plan was to ride east on Foothill to Cajon, which parallels the 15. There is one stretch of the 15 that you have to ride as there are only dirt roads in the area. From there you take CA-138 to Crestline.
When we drove up CA-18 to Arrowhead for Labor Day weekend I was looking at the shoulder to determine ones ability to safely ride the road. The road from the bottom of the mountain to where it narrows in Crestline looks pretty darn safe. While the shoulder is not huge it is appears far wider than say something like CA-2. The road past Crestline however seems quite treacherous. In the lower part there are two lanes and a decent shoulder, in the upper part there is one narrow lane and basically no shoulder. I would look into an alternate route through Crestline if you can fine one. The problem is finding a suitable route through rather hilly terrain when using maps that show no relief.
Good luck with your ride and let us know what you end up doing.
I've ridden 18 a few times. It isn't terrible but there are a few tight sections. What is a little scary is that the cars travel pretty fast on the lower sections. I lived in Arrowhead when I was younger and I still have family up there so I have been up and down that road many times. I have seen other cyclists on the road from time to time. The above poster makes good points about 18. The top sections are narrow but not too bad because traffic is moving slower. There are alternate routes through Crestline and Twin Peaks but at some point you almost have to get on 18 unless you get picked up.
I was going to suggest 15N to 138 (not 118) which is what the above poster meant. You would still need to get from Crestline to Arrowhead though and would most likely need to ride part of 18 or figure out an alternate route because 138 will take you to the 18. This would be a more time consuming route for you as it would require you to go around and up the backside of the mountain from the desert.
09-18-07, 11:38 PM
It's a 4-lane 55 MPH Hwy for a good portion of the way up. That being said, there's a substantial shoulder, and I've never felt particularly intimidated on it. Going back down you can nearly keep up with traffic.
You can avoid some of the faster sections, near the bottom, by taking a detour Old Waterman Canyon Road, which will parallel the 18 for a few miles and then rejoin it shortly before Crestline.
The most intimidating sections are going to be once you get past crestline and it narrows to two lanes. To be honest, I'm not certain I've ever ridden my bicycle through that section. I did nearly get creamed by a kid backing out of a pull-out, at high speed, while I was on a leisurely late-night bimble on my motorcycle. Unbeknownst to me, it was prom night at Rim of the World HS. Had I known that I'd have been nowhere near the area...
If memory serves, the last time I rode near there, we rode into Crestline and took Lake Gregory Drive across to the 18 and then down to Running Springs and back down the 138.
09-19-07, 09:01 AM
I was going to suggest 15N to 138 (not 118) which is what the above poster meant.
Thanks! Correction made. And I make maps for a living... :)
09-20-07, 07:17 AM
I grew up in Lake Arrowhead. I don't think I'll ever ride my bike past the Crestline Cutoff (that part of the road on the 18 where the bridge curves around up to Crestline). There really isn't room for a shoulder past the Crestline Cutoff. The roads been destroyed by rain and snow several times (necessitating long rebuilds and detours), so there's literally no shoulder at all along much of the road. Branches snake out from trees and sometimes go right to the white line, if not slightly past it. It's just not safe to ride a bike up those roads -- you can't go fast enough to stay out of trouble and there's nowhere for you to go. Assuming that drivers coming up behind you stop in time, holding them back to your 5-10mph just is really unfair to them, since there's nowhere for them to go either -- they can't pass you unless they're willing to make the situation unsafe for everyone. That being said, I did ride my bike down the hill once. In some places, the wind was blowing so hard uphill that I actually had to pedal in order to ride downhill, which was rather interesting. But I don't think I'll ever go uphill past the Crestline Cutoff. I don't know about the Rim either, once you get past the dump towards Running Springs, where there's that big dropoff and no guardrails. Most of the rest of the mountain is ok for biking around on, speaking from experience -- be prepared for a close call every week or so, though.
09-20-07, 10:49 AM
Thank you for all the input!
The general consensus appears to be that the first part of the road is fine to ride, after the Crestline cutoff it gets a bit dicey. I assume the Crestline cutoff is the junction with the Hwy 138.
Would it be better to take the take the Crestline cutoff, go around Lake Gregory, then join up with Hwy 189 into Lake Arrowhead? The route image below is linked to the mapped out route in bikely.com
09-21-07, 12:12 AM
See that little jag to the left and back just above the 138 circle? That's a pretty tight corner. If cars are backed up, then they're usually taking it slow, but you might have to get off your bike and carry it around as there is no shoulder at all on the right side of the road going up. You could possibly cross the road, ride on the wrong side of the road, then switch back over after that curve. Then, right where the purple line splits off from the yellow 138 line is a fairly darn steep downhill going down towards Lake Gregory. After a couple hundred yards it mellows out a bit, but there's still not really any shoulder.
Going around the back side of Lake Gregory will have you, after you split off from Lake Dr., going through "residential neighborhoods". They're tight twisty streets that . . . well, there aren't really any streets up in the mountains that have an appreciable bikeway outside the solid white line, so you'll pretty much be in the lane at all times. Once you get over to N. Rd, just before it connects back with highway 189, that's seriously one of the darndest steepest hills up there. When I was young, it used to scare me going zipping down that street in a car, let alone on a bike. Seriously, it's a steep road. In my opinion, the safest road back to the 18 would be Lake Gregory Dr: http://maps.google.com/maps?f=d&hl=en&geocode=12870596246828981145,34.227984,-117.290511%3B5492896527534966201,34.243453,-117.276220%3B13941732358370229986,34.228871,-117.251029&saddr=CA-18+%4034.228120,+-117.290290&daddr=Lake+Dr+%4034.243610,+-117.276180+to:Lake+Gregory+Dr+%4034.228700,+-117.251210&mra=mr&sll=34.243737,-117.226009&sspn=0.04995,0.079823&ie=UTF8&ll=34.233732,-117.27107&spn=0.049956,0.079823&z=14&om=1
Back when the upper section of the 18 was closed for repairs, traffic was diverted through Crestline via Crest Forest Dr -- this street. It's rather narrow in spots, has some really tight corners, but it's somewhat shorter: http://maps.google.com/maps?f=d&hl=en&geocode=12870596246828981145,34.227984,-117.290511%3B5492896527534966201,34.243453,-117.276220%3B10360673260053738572,34.226139,-117.259140&saddr=CA-18+%4034.228120,+-117.290290&daddr=34.233164,-117.274418+to:CA-18+%4034.227170,+-117.259010&mrcr=0,1&mrsp=1&sz=14&mra=dme&sll=34.233732,-117.27107&sspn=0.049956,0.079823&ie=UTF8&z=14&om=1 Ignore that little loop on the right, that was a mapping error on my part.
Where in Arrowhead are you going? If you're going to the Village (that shopping center that is at the end of the purple line on your map), I'd reccomend staying on the 18 then going down 173. If you take the 189, the last bit of it from Blue Jay to Lake Arrowhead is one of the twistiest roads on the mountain. Why, it's so twisty that even mountain drivers are forced to slow down to at no more than about 30 miles an hour! ;)
If you're heading counterclockwise around the lake, I'd recomend the Lake Trail from the Village over to this point (it's zoomed in, so zoom out to see the spot I'm mentioning): http://maps.google.com/maps?ie=UTF8&hl=en&ll=34.251843,-117.178674&spn=0.001561,0.002494&z=19&om=1 Then it's a short ride to John Muir, which you'd take all the way around to Sunset, to get back to the 173. The 173 from there is pretty much ok (and it's about your only option). If you are going that way, let me know and I'll give you the code for the gate from the Village to the Lake Trail. The Lake Trail does continue from there, but after it rounds the bend (there's a picnic spot there) it starts getting narrow and then the only way off of it is to go up people's stairs past their house. I don't know why, but people sometimes get a little testy when some stranger starts walking up their steps past their house. ;)
If you're interested, let me know what time you'd be likely to be coming along and I can see if anyone I know could possibly pick you up in San Bernardino (or the Crestline Cutoff, if you want to ride up the 18). My email is my username here, @gmail.com
09-21-07, 01:59 AM
I appreciate all your input. I think I will give the Crest Forest route a try.
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