Sometimes the most enjoyable roads are in the most unexpected spots. The San Gabriel Mountains have some locations that are regionally iconic, but Little Tujunga is not one of them. This alpine road starts off in the low-income suburbs of the north San Fernando Valley, but quickly takes you out of suburbia and into a San Gabriel Foothills. This section of the mountains is relatively modest and connects to no major peak, which is where all the other major roads seem to lead. This anomalous road is quite interesting because of the limited auto traffic and the nature of its fun little climb.
What Makes It Great
The San Gabriel Mountains are prominent. Most roads or trails leave the Los Angeles Basin and immediately begin to climb, often from approximately 1,000’ to above 4,000’ without reprieve. Little Tujunga is the exception. This ride starts off with a mellow rolling set of rollers that are great for warming up and super fun. Little Tujunga Canyon is an ancient drainage that brings debris from the San Gabriel Mountains and deposits it into the San Fernando Valley. A series of dams and debris basins have made it possible to build a road that climbs through the drainage.
Once you’re kitted up, begin riding up Little Tujunga. The first two miles are smooth and flat, and then the road starts to climb. The next five miles is climbing on moderate grades, but the views are spectacular. The road has been cut into the mountain; it hugs the mountain as you snake along the ridge. After 5 miles of climbing you reach the first peak, here you can either turn around or descend and begin to climb the second summit. The second peak requires three miles of downhill before another three of climbing. The road surface on the entire ride is wonderful so if you can muster the strength it is encouraged to go for the two peaks. The total distance is about 28 miles and 3,500’.
Who is Going to Love It
If you love climbing and remote alpine roads then this is for you. The road is easily accessed from LA and stronger riders can ride to the Little Tujunga, depending on their location. The road surface is amazing on the entire route; there is no buzz from a chip seal or dodging potholes!
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
To ride up the canyon, visitors must start in Sylmar. From the 210 Freeway, exit at Osborne Street. The freeway exit puts you onto Foothill Boulevard, head north towards the mountains and then take the first left onto Osborne Street. Osborne shortly turns into Little Tujunga Canyon Road so park on Osborne or a side street.