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1 Day in LA, which climb?

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Old 09-10-18, 07:29 PM
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norman99
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1 Day in LA, which climb?

Hi, I値l be in LA for work in a fortnight, and I値l have a free day so I壇 like to take the bike up into the San Gabriel Mountains, but I壇 like some advice from those of you familiar with the area. I知 choosing between climbing highway 39 from Azusa to Crystal Lakes, Mt Baldy via Glendora Mountain/Ridge Road, or via Mt Baldy Road. If you only had one day to ride the area, which route would you prefer?

I値l be staying in downtown LA, so I assume I値l have to rent a car and drive out to the start of each climb.

It seems most of the rides in the area are out and back, is there any way to make a loop without a lot of urban riding after coming off the mountain?

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks, Michael.
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Old 09-10-18, 08:28 PM
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ooga-booga
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hwy 39 is harder and more vertical but a bomb descent. gmr/grr is more scenic and easier but still challenging and also a fun (mostly) descent.
hwy 39 does have some bragging rights:

https://www.strava.com/segments/1638547

if you end up continuing past the turnoff for crystal lake, the views get correspondingly epic and the traffic is nonexistent since the road is closed for approx 5 miles
to the junction w/hwy 2. there will be rockfall on this 5 mile stretch so be super careful on the descent. there may or may not be caltrans snow/rockplow trucks working the road
but they've never paid me any mind as i cycled past. the air starts getting thin once past crystal lake all the way to dawson saddle. if you're super hot on the ascent, there are two good places to
cool down. there is a stream on your right about a mile past the junction w/the east fork/grr bridge. simple matter to clamber about 25 feet down and wet and undershirt, jersey and bandana/cap if necessary.
farther up the 39, there is a good sized trickling spring on the downhill side of the road about 1.5-2 miles below crystal lake turnoff where you can cool down as well.

blow off mt. baldy rd unless it’s continuing from gmr/grr to mt. baldy village and then up to the road’s end at the ski lifts or to descend quickly.

if you end up doing either hwy 39 or gmr/grr, I would return same way. views are epic and it’s amazing how different both look on the way down. i prefer riding loops vs out and backs but not in these cases. the foothill riding is okay but not epic like either of these two roads.

if i hadda pick one? gmr/grr to the ski lifts and back. in either case, hydrate up and take two full water bottles. there is a water spigot outside the post office in mt. baldy village and stuff available at crystal lake store (if open) but otherwise, it's slim pickins. i recommend an early (<8am) for either as it can get downright toasty. make sure your brakes are in good working order and you're packing a few tubes and the means to inflate them. the cell phone service on either route is almost nonexistent.

regarding transportation to/from dtown la to either hwy 39 or gmr/grr, i believe the "gold line" light rail heads from union station in dtown la to the azusa station. about a 40 min rail ride. the station is approx
2 miles from the base of the hwy 39 climb and about 5 miles from the base of gmr/grr climb.

Last edited by ooga-booga; 09-10-18 at 10:03 PM.
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Old 09-10-18, 10:50 PM
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I agree, even though I'm not an out and back fan, this is the way to do GMR/GRR.
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Old 09-10-18, 11:33 PM
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What about Fargo Street?
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Old 09-11-18, 12:06 AM
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Originally Posted by norman99 View Post
Hi, I値l be in LA for work in a fortnight, and I値l have a free day so I壇 like to take the bike up into the San Gabriel Mountains, but I壇 like some advice from those of you familiar with the area. I知 choosing between climbing highway 39 from Azusa to Crystal Lakes, Mt Baldy via Glendora Mountain/Ridge Road, or via Mt Baldy Road. If you only had one day to ride the area, which route would you prefer?

I値l be staying in downtown LA, so I assume I値l have to rent a car and drive out to the start of each climb.

It seems most of the rides in the area are out and back, is there any way to make a loop without a lot of urban riding after coming off the mountain?

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks, Michael.
You can skip the car and hop on the gold line to its terminus - I believe it goes all the way to Irwindale now.

From there, do this route, you'll get a nice selection of views: https://ridewithgps.com/routes/28573068

There is water available at about mile 7 at the horse park on the right, mile 28 or so at the fire station (or go to the baldy lodge and order something) and then if you go down that way, in camp williams at about mile 55 or so.

If you don't want to ride quite that far, you can skip the Camp Williams portion and just come back down GMR. If you do rent a car, park on Glendora Mountain Road (mile 6.5 to 7 or so, there is street parking)

You can also turn around once you get to Baldy village if you don't want to do the lifts, I hate those damn things.

(alternately, you can start from the train and ride up 39 to crystal lake etc, your choice)
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Old 09-11-18, 07:41 AM
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The Irwindale Gold Line station is only about a mile from the Lario Park entrance to the San Gabriel River Trail that will take you right to the mouth of the canyon and 39. You can also cut out at the gate and go out Sierra Madre to GMR

A good loop that I like is to go up 39 to the bridge and the East Fork road and then go up to the GMR GRR intersection. this has the advantage that the steepest part of the climb is in the shade until late morning/early afternoon. (beware of skateboarders on this stretch even mid week. They even run international skateboard tours on this segment.) You could then go out and back on GRR to Baldy Village and then back down GRR and catch the most technical part of the GMR descent to Sierra Madre and take that back to the SGRT and the train station. (Same as Trojan's route except do it the other way around.)

Mid week there will be almost no traffic on any of these routes and on 39 once you get past the East Fork bridge you might see a half dozen cars all day. Weekends going this way the traffic isn't too bad as long as you get an early start and get past the off road parking area at the East Fork by 7:30 or so.

Be self sufficient and in October you can occasionally get temps from 40 to 90 all on the same day, but usually it's the most pleasant time of the year and no bugs..

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Old 09-11-18, 08:57 AM
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Dawson Saddle! https://www.strava.com/segments/1638547

Go up with a third disposable bottle and throw it away when done. Easier to find a garbage can than it is to find water.
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Old 09-11-18, 09:13 AM
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If you go for Crystal Lake or Dawson Saddle don't depend on the spring above Coldbrook campground. Some years it dries up in the fall or reduces to a trickle you might not want to drink Someone who's been up there lately might know the status.
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Old 09-11-18, 10:06 AM
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https://www.strava.com/clubs/306728/group_events/207862
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Old 09-11-18, 10:55 PM
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Originally Posted by CliffordK View Post
What about Fargo Street?
too short and sweet to be enjoyable. i suppose you could always add neighboring ewing st and others...
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Old 09-13-18, 09:12 PM
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Not sure how far you want to ride but it looks like you have chosen routes that have food at the ends. if you ride Crystal Lake, which would be my choice, then you can go on to Islip Pass and loop down Hwy 2 back to La Canada, or go up Mt Wilson (water at Red Box) and then down Mt Lowe Rd down to Altadena, which requires bit of adventure and gravel riding. But that's a long ride - for me any way Or if you ride Crystal Lake out and back, then you can at least take in the ride up and back to Cogswell Dam from West Fork, for a little extra mileage and seclusion. Maybe consider Hwy 2 from La Canada up to Mt Wilson, then continue on up to Upper Big Tujunga Cyn and loop back around to Red Box via Angeles Forest Hwy. Sort of a loop but no food. There's a cafe at Mt Wilson Observatory but maybe only open weekends. Good Luck
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Old 09-14-18, 06:17 AM
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Could always follow Gaimon on Strava and check out some of his routes, or his youtube series might have a few good ones around there.
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Old 09-14-18, 04:21 PM
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Hwy 39 is closed to all traffic due to fire mop up till at least Tuesday and all traffic to East Fork will be using GMR. Not a good way to go that way
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