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Gravel Bike Trails Near Pasadena

Old 06-15-21, 08:13 PM
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Panos
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Gravel Bike Trails Near Pasadena

Hey Guys,

New to biking and this forum. I recently purchased a Poseidon X Gravel bike and was wondering if you guys had any favorite trails near the Pasadena area? Ideally somewhat beginner friendly.

Would love to hear about any recommendations you all have!
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Old 06-16-21, 12:05 AM
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Cherry Canyon, Verdugo Motorway, Brown Mountain Truck Trail, Gabrelino Trail, Mt Lowe Road, Mt Lukens Truck Trail
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Old 06-17-21, 08:12 AM
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Originally Posted by Elvo View Post
Cherry Canyon, Verdugo Motorway, Brown Mountain Truck Trail, Gabrelino Trail, Mt Lowe Road, Mt Lukens Truck Trail
Awesome! While not in my area, I'm thinking about trying Fullerton track this weekend, is that a trail you recommend?
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Old 06-18-21, 12:14 AM
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What is this Fullerton Loop the speak of?
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Old 06-18-21, 11:39 AM
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Great, ill check it out. thanks bud
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Old 06-18-21, 10:55 PM
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I'd get my feet wet first riding Gabrielino Trail next to JPL that goes to the Brown Mountain Dam waterfall. It's not very steep and with your gearing it'll be a nice trail to master. Once you start building your climbing legs you can try riding Fern Truck Trail. I'd advice against trying El Prieto Trail loop. It's doable on a gravel bike, but a bit difficult, you'll have to carry your bike on certain sections and it's bumpy as heck with no suspension. Verdugo Mountain is another uphill grind, but once you get to the top it's pretty easy going from one end to the other. Also right now it's really hot during the day, either ride late afternoon or carry lots of water. I easily can go through my two water bottles on uphill climbs, so stay hydrated. I also ride the fire roads up Griffith Observatory. Lots of roadies trying to beat their Strava times, I always get my butt kicked there on the uphill. The downhill is fun especially down Vista Del Valle Dr. fire road. It's better on a gravel bike since there's lots of loose rocks and dirt on the way down.

Most the trails in the area are an uphill grind, so I have a 2nd wheelset with slicks when I just want to take it easy. Saying that, I'd rather have quick access to uphill trails and fire roads, than be stuck on the flats!
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Old 06-21-21, 12:05 PM
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Originally Posted by jonathanf2 View Post
I'd get my feet wet first riding Gabrielino Trail next to JPL that goes to the Brown Mountain Dam waterfall. It's not very steep and with your gearing it'll be a nice trail to master. Once you start building your climbing legs you can try riding Fern Truck Trail. I'd advice against trying El Prieto Trail loop. It's doable on a gravel bike, but a bit difficult, you'll have to carry your bike on certain sections and it's bumpy as heck with no suspension. Verdugo Mountain is another uphill grind, but once you get to the top it's pretty easy going from one end to the other. Also right now it's really hot during the day, either ride late afternoon or carry lots of water. I easily can go through my two water bottles on uphill climbs, so stay hydrated. I also ride the fire roads up Griffith Observatory. Lots of roadies trying to beat their Strava times, I always get my butt kicked there on the uphill. The downhill is fun especially down Vista Del Valle Dr. fire road. It's better on a gravel bike since there's lots of loose rocks and dirt on the way down.

Most the trails in the area are an uphill grind, so I have a 2nd wheelset with slicks when I just want to take it easy. Saying that, I'd rather have quick access to uphill trails and fire roads, than be stuck on the flats!
Awesome, thank you for all these trail/recommendations! I went to Fullerton loop this weekend, so a bit out of the Pasadena area. I learned pretty quickly that the two water bottles are key! I learned pretty quick that 35mm tires and high tire pressure are not a good idea....

Anyways, it made me think, are gravel bikes really designed to do trails like that? Everyone else I saw was on mtb
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Old 06-21-21, 01:11 PM
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I've been riding my singlespeed MTB on the Flint Canyon Trail in La Canada recently (https://www.lcftrails.org/trails/flint-canyon-trail/). It would be suitable for a beginning-level rider on a gravel bike- fun ups and downs, not too technical, and no long steep climbs. Generally I use it as a link between the Hahamonga/JPL area (I live close to there) and Cherry Canyon. Cherry Canyon can be pretty demanding for novice riders (especially the singletrack sections), but there are some fireroads to be had. Expect to grind up some steep pitches.

The road up to Brown Saddle (Fern Truck Trail, technically, but most call it Brown Mtn Road) is a grind, and has some pretty rocky and steep sections. Due to decades of growth without maintenance, what used to be a fire road climb is mostly singletrack. From there, you can descend towards Millard Canyon (I'd skip the El Prieto trail until you get a bit more experience). From the Millard campground, you can climb up the paved road or a singletrack to Sunset Ridge. For a beginner, I would suggest descending from Sunset on the pavement of Chaney Trail. The singletrack descent from Sunset is steep, rutted, and demanding. It's not exactly beginner-friendly, and would be a handful for moderately-skilled rider on a gravel bike.

Generally speaking, the Pasadena area isn't great for a gravel bike. Things tend to get really steep and/or technical in most areas. That said, if you're willing to drive a bit, you'll be able to find some places to ride. Marshall Canyon would be worth checking out. The suggestion for the Gabrielino Trail that follows the bottom of the Arroyo behind JPL is good. When I first started riding MTBs 30 years ago, this was my main ride.

Last edited by Eric F; 06-21-21 at 04:13 PM.
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Old 06-21-21, 01:51 PM
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Originally Posted by Panos View Post
Awesome, thank you for all these trail/recommendations! I went to Fullerton loop this weekend, so a bit out of the Pasadena area. I learned pretty quickly that the two water bottles are key! I learned pretty quick that 35mm tires and high tire pressure are not a good idea....

Anyways, it made me think, are gravel bikes really designed to do trails like that? Everyone else I saw was on mtb
Gravel bikes excel on flatter roads/trails with rough surfaces, but I find them to do well for all-around use. They're not the most comfortable trail/MTB bikes or the fastest road bikes, but you can do both. I usually ride the streets before entering a trail. Most MTB'ers will drive to their riding location and roadies won't even go on rough terrain. Plus your Poseidon X has a flexible groupset, so you can probably size up/down your chainring or get a bigger cassette if you want better uphill climbing/faster top speed.

I have two wheelsets with different tires depending on what surfaces I'm riding on (tarmac/trails). The more you ride your bike, the more you'll get a better feel for it. I wouldn't worry too much about what other people are riding, gravel bikes are really in their own category of cycling and require a different mindset.
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Old 06-21-21, 02:25 PM
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Ill definitely look into these trails. I was planning on exploring Cherry Canyon but may have to work up to that one and try flint canyon trail or Gabrielino trail this weekend or next weekend. Fullerton was manageable in the vast majority of the time, though some parts were not easy. I'm open to driving as well to more beginner friendly trails, though not more than an hour or so generally speaking.
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Old 06-21-21, 02:29 PM
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Originally Posted by jonathanf2 View Post
Gravel bikes excel on flatter roads/trails with rough surfaces, but I find them to do well for all-around use. They're not the most comfortable trail/MTB bikes or the fastest road bikes, but you can do both. I usually ride the streets before entering a trail. Most MTB'ers will drive to their riding location and roadies won't even go on rough terrain. Plus your Poseidon X has a flexible groupset, so you can probably size up/down your chainring or get a bigger cassette if you want better uphill climbing/faster top speed.

I have two wheelsets with different tires depending on what surfaces I'm riding on (tarmac/trails). The more you ride your bike, the more you'll get a better feel for it. I wouldn't worry too much about what other people are riding, gravel bikes are really in their own category of cycling and require a different mindset.
So ideally if I had spare wheel set and a smaller chainring I could do some mountain biking as well without being too hard on the bike itself without suspension? im new to the sport, so excuse me if these are dumb questions
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Old 06-21-21, 04:07 PM
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Here's a taste of the Brown Mtn-El Prieto loop...

Probably not a good idea for a beginning gravel bike rider. He chopped of a LOT of the climb.

Also, it's not "Pree-toe", as he pronounces it. It's 3 syllables..."Pree-eh-toe".
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Old 06-22-21, 10:22 AM
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Originally Posted by Eric F View Post
Here's a taste of the Brown Mtn-El Prieto loop... https://youtu.be/XlHvDf0LQNs

Probably not a good idea for a beginning gravel bike rider. He chopped of a LOT of the climb.

Also, it's not "Pree-toe", as he pronounces it. It's 3 syllables..."Pree-eh-toe".
Holy moly I may have to pass on that one. Yeah I was primarily looking for dirt roads to ride rather than rock and root filled descents. Maybe if I buy a mtb one day ill try that out!
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Old 06-22-21, 10:34 AM
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Originally Posted by Panos View Post
So ideally if I had spare wheel set and a smaller chainring I could do some mountain biking as well without being too hard on the bike itself without suspension? im new to the sport, so excuse me if these are dumb questions
I've seen Youtube videos of Poseidon X owners swapping out the crankset for a bigger chainring, so I presume the opposite (going smaller) would be true as well. I'm not too familiar with the Poseidon X crank, but there's a thread on the cyclocross and gravel bike sub-forum and you ask any questions there.

You can also just swap out the tires if you want something beefier if you don't want to buy another wheelset (which will require disc rotors and another cassette). Unless you're riding some hard technical trails with big drops, I've ridden my rigid gravel bike on some fast downhill fire roads with no problem. Just watch your speeds and be mindful of your line. Have fun!
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Old 06-22-21, 02:46 PM
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Originally Posted by jonathanf2 View Post
I've seen Youtube videos of Poseidon X owners swapping out the crankset for a bigger chainring, so I presume the opposite (going smaller) would be true as well. I'm not too familiar with the Poseidon X crank, but there's a thread on the cyclocross and gravel bike sub-forum and you ask any questions there.

You can also just swap out the tires if you want something beefier if you don't want to buy another wheelset (which will require disc rotors and another cassette). Unless you're riding some hard technical trails with big drops, I've ridden my rigid gravel bike on some fast downhill fire roads with no problem. Just watch your speeds and be mindful of your line. Have fun!
Got it, ill look into that when the time comes forsure. ill keep that in mine when I look into some more technical trails!
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Old 06-22-21, 03:09 PM
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Here's the other loop next to El Prieto if you want to avoid the technical section. It's still challenging, but doable on a rigid frame and still lots of fun!

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Old 06-22-21, 04:09 PM
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Originally Posted by jonathanf2 View Post
Here's the other loop next to El Prieto if you want to avoid the technical section. It's still challenging, but doable on a rigid frame and still lots of fun!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PAi5PdOLUmo
This is 90% of the loop I did on my SS last Friday. I took the "horse trail" singletrack from Sunset Ridge to Loma Alta, instead of their route down the Chaney Trail paved road (I live just below Loma Alta, west of Fair Oaks). IMO, this video is a bit deceiving. These are experienced and skilled riders who are making it look easy. A beginner will be deeply challenged by the grade of the climb, and the handling required for the descent from Brown Saddle to Millard. It it do-able? Yes. Take your time...and lots of water.

Last edited by Eric F; 06-23-21 at 09:24 AM.
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Old 06-23-21, 10:36 AM
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awesome, well thanks for all the tips and recommendations guys! ill keep you updated if I decide to try any either this week or next week.
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Old 06-23-21, 12:54 PM
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Originally Posted by Eric F View Post
This is 90% of the loop I did on my SS last Friday. I took the "horse trail" singletrack from Sunset Ridge to Loma Alta, instead of their route down the Chaney Trail paved road (I live just below Loma Alta, west of Fair Oaks). IMO, this video is a bit deceiving. These are experienced and skilled riders who are making it look easy. A beginner will be deeply challenged by the grade of the climb, and the handling required for the descent from Brown Saddle to Millard. It it do-able? Yes. Take your time...and lots of water.
Chaney Trail Road is a PITA to climb either direction and the descent towards the residential area is fast. I did the entire loop in the video (while heading back to the parking lot near Gabrielino Trail), but I find it easier exiting Rising Hill Rd as opposed to taking Millard like they did. Less hill climbing and a smoother coast back to the parking lot!

I'd love to find a riding group in the NELA/Pasadena in the area more tailored for gravel riders (I'm nowhere near a fast roadie), but I think it's a bit hard considering for any terrain in the area, most likely will be all uphill. It'd be cool mixing it up with both road and trail riding as well. I'd love to see a bike train of gravel riders for a change!
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Old 06-23-21, 01:18 PM
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Originally Posted by jonathanf2 View Post
Chaney Trail Road is a PITA to climb either direction and the descent towards the residential area is fast. I did the entire loop in the video (while heading back to the parking lot near Gabrielino Trail), but I find it easier exiting Rising Hill Rd as opposed to taking Millard like they did. Less hill climbing and a smoother coast back to the parking lot!
Hmmm...In all the times I've ridden on the roads and trains in that area, I have never taken the Rising Hill option. I'll have to check that out sometime.
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Old 06-24-21, 12:49 AM
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if you're willing to go do the Fullerton loop, head over to Chino hill state park instead. WAAAAAY more miles and better views (with climbs)
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Old 06-24-21, 11:12 AM
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Originally Posted by jsigone View Post
if you're willing to go do the Fullerton loop, head over to Chino hill state park instead. WAAAAAY more miles and better views (with climbs)
I just saw some videos, been there before and looks perfect thank you
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Old 06-24-21, 12:31 PM
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Originally Posted by Panos View Post
Awesome, thank you for all these trail/recommendations! I went to Fullerton loop this weekend, so a bit out of the Pasadena area. I learned pretty quickly that the two water bottles are key! I learned pretty quick that 35mm tires and high tire pressure are not a good idea....

Anyways, it made me think, are gravel bikes really designed to do trails like that? Everyone else I saw was on mtb
Ya.. others from Pasadena have already chimed in... we don't really have gravel roads here... we have rocky fireroads. I have seen a couple of gravel bikes, but it's mostly MTBs. I like the Gabrielino Trail behind JPL to Gould Mesa campground... and then up the fireroad (steep) behind the campground to Angeles Crest Hwy. Then descend down the Hwy to La Canada for the return... (or you can keep going a mile or so up the Hwy to the firestation.. which has the Mt Luken rd. starting there behind the fire station... for a taste of that rd. I used to ride Mt Lukens once a year on a 1988 Rockhopper. Took me all day.)
I have done this ride ( Gab trail) several times, both on a hybrid with 35mm tires, and my XC MTB with 55mm tires.....I prefer the XC bike. It was about 23 miles round trip for me from South Pasadena, door to door.



Pic is of the Arroyo between JPL and Gould Mesa campground.
P.S. I get off and walk once and a while... no shame in walking and enjoying the day. The climb out of Gould Mesa campground is a 17% grade.

Last edited by trailangel; 06-24-21 at 01:12 PM.
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Old 06-25-21, 12:07 AM
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Originally Posted by trailangel View Post
Ya.. others from Pasadena have already chimed in... we don't really have gravel roads here... we have rocky fireroads. I have seen a couple of gravel bikes, but it's mostly MTBs. I like the Gabrielino Trail behind JPL to Gould Mesa campground... and then up the fireroad (steep) behind the campground to Angeles Crest Hwy. Then descend down the Hwy to La Canada for the return... (or you can keep going a mile or so up the Hwy to the firestation.. which has the Mt Luken rd. starting there behind the fire station... for a taste of that rd. I used to ride Mt Lukens once a year on a 1988 Rockhopper. Took me all day.)
I have done this ride ( Gab trail) several times, both on a hybrid with 35mm tires, and my XC MTB with 55mm tires.....I prefer the XC bike. It was about 23 miles round trip for me from South Pasadena, door to door.



Pic is of the Arroyo between JPL and Gould Mesa campground.
P.S. I get off and walk once and a while... no shame in walking and enjoying the day. The climb out of Gould Mesa campground is a 17% grade.
The Gould Mesa climb to ACH is a BEAST!!
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Old 06-25-21, 12:45 AM
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Originally Posted by Eric F View Post
The Gould Mesa climb to ACH is a BEAST!!
I actually tried riding up the Gould Mesa climb to ACH on my single speed bike with a 34:16t gear setup. I nearly died of exhaustion, but made it to the highway (with a few breaks along the way)!

I also did the El Prieto loop on my geared gravel bike a few weeks ago and almost finished it unscathed, but when I was about to complete the loop and return to the base of the Gabrielino trail, I flipped over on the last rooted tree trunk on the path gashing my right shoulder and getting a long scratch my leg. My bike stem also twisted out of alignment, but luckily I had my multi-tool and put my bike back straight before continuing. I really need to be careful considering I'm not all that young!

Riding El Prieto with no suspension:
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