The San Gabriel Mountain Range is an important part of the Los Angeles skyline. Just ask anyone who has flown into LAX from the east. If you are sitting on the right side of the plane, you will be flanked to the right (North) by the epic San Gabriel Mountains. There is a lot of awesome biking to be done in the region as long stretches of pavement serve as arteries from the mountains to the city of LA. This profile is concerning the Highway 39 ride because of its elegance, remoteness and beauty.
What Makes It Great
It is only fitting that one of the route to cycle in Southern California should simply be dubbed “the 39.” Highways are such a large part of life in Los Angeles that we refer to them all colloquially. The 39 is no different. The route profiled here makes up the terminus of the California State Route 39, which makes its way from Huntington Beach all the way up to the Islip Saddle of the Angeles Crest Highway in Angeles National Forest. It is special because it runs up through an amazing mountain range, but also because it is a dead end road. The road was never completed between SR 39 and SR 2 (Angeles Crest Highway) because of the danger or rock slides. This makes the ride almost car free.
From the parking lot (described below), take SR 39 up, up, up. The road surface is all really good and usually pretty deserted. From the parking lot by the West Fork San Gabriel River, the ride to the gate is an 11 mile ride with 3,500 feet of elevation gain.
Who is Going to Love It
This ride is good for cyclists who have a road bike that is geared high enough to be able to sustain riding at an incline for long periods of time. It is not an easy ride by any stretch of the imagination, but the hard work will pay off as views as you move your way up the hill get better and better as you go. The 39 ride is best of moderate to advanced level riders who want to gain some elevation.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
Take the 210 East from Los Angeles, and exit onto Irwindale. To get to the parking lot from the highway, proceed as follows: Left on Irwindale, Right on Foothill Blvd, Left on Todd Ave, Left on Sierra Madre Ave, Left on Highway 39 (San Gabriel Canyon Road). This road will take you up into the mountains, follow it past two huge Reservoirs, Morris and San Gabriel, but beware to be awed as they may be much lower than you would expect. Continue on this road until you get to parking lot on the right with no signs, right before a small bridge that crosses the West Fork San Gabriel River. This is a great place to start the ride. You can hypothetically start from anywhere on SR 39. Make sure to have your adventure pass showing when you go!