Rising high above the Los Angeles Basin, Mount San Antonio, at 10,046 ft, is the tallest structure in Southern California. The peak, known colloquially as Mount Baldy, lies within the Angeles National Forest and is a haven for an abundance of outdoor activity. The region is so highly regarded that in 2014 the Obama administration passed an order that will transform the Angeles National Forest into the San Gabriel Mountain National Monument.
What Makes It Great
The cyclist’s ideal route through these mountains begins in the foothills in Glendora. Starting at ~1,050 ft and meandering up ridges to Baldy Village at 4,193ft, Glendora Mountain Road is the ideal scenic artery. Although this terrain is built by fracturing along the San Andreas Fault and North American tectonic plate boundary, the road surface is immaculate and the turns are on camber so you can carve into the pavement with confidence.
If you don’t live locally, I encourage that you park in the flat-er Glendora where you can get a sufficient warm up prior to climbing up GMR. Personally, I take the Grand Ave exit off of the 210 freeway, turn right on Foothill Blvd and then l turn left on to Glendora Avenue where I park near the quaint downtown. Find a spot without any restrictions, there are numerous on side streets, and, once you’re kitted, you can grab an espresso in Glendora Village before heading out.
From downtown, ride north on Glendora Avenue for .7 miles and turn right on Sierra Madre Avenue. Follow Sierra Madre for 1.6 miles and turn left onto Glendora Mountain Road. After a handful of residential driveways, the road begins to traverse up into the foothills for 10 miles until you encounter East Fork Road, the first available turn off and a wonderful loop that takes you past a series of alpine dams as you descend. Each corner yields another vista of countless granitic peaks and canyons. Grades on the first section rarely tops 9° and are typically vary around 6°. After the East Fork intersection, the road appropriately changes name to Glendora Ridge Road.
Much like the lower section, the Ridge Road never hits double-digit grades, but, unlike its lower brethren, it does produce a series of smaller descents as you climb towards Mt. Baldy Village. Once in the Village you have a few options; to continue climbing up on Mt. Baldy Rd to the end of pavement at the ski lifts, descend down Glendora Ridge Road, or descend Mt. Baldy Rd and take city streets back to Glendora.
Alpine peaks thirty minutes from downtown Los Angeles with roads that are so captivating the world’s best professional cyclists test their aptitude each May in the Tour of California.
Who is Going to Love It
The road rider who loves to climb will be elated all throughout the ascent. Auto traffic is minimal and, because the climb isn’t very steep, cyclists with varying skill levels can tackle and love love this climb.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
For those who want to start on GMR, park at the intersection of Sierra Madre Avenue and Glendora Mountain Road. Head north up GMR. In the summer bring sufficient water, sun protection, and consider layers. In the winter, stay warm. As the sun begins to set the cold can come quick.