This past weekend, my buddy Miguel and I set out to conquer the Historic Mt. Lowe Railway. With our bikes loaded up and bottles filled with water, we traversed up the mountain in search of the old train line.
After climbing up the paved road, we were met with a closed gate (mile 1) and from that point on motorized vehicles are not permitted; making the ride that much sweeter.
Given the car-centric world that we live in, it's always a treat to find routes that are car free. Especially in LA where cars are permitted to drive everywhere, even in the bicycle lane.
As we continued on, the road became just as grueling as it was in the beginning. Reaching grades of 14% or so; remember, this is one hellova a climb. Be sure to pack plenty of water and don't forget your sunnies. Once we reached mile 3, the paved road abruptly became a rocky dirt fire road but luckily the grade mellowed out a little. At the start of the dirt lies the flattest and straightest stretch of the railway - some 225 ft long.
Along the way we saw ruins of the Echo Mountain Hotel (1893-1937) as well as the original cable car parts. You can really soak up the history while climbing the Historic Railway. Every 1/4 mile or so there is a plaque on the side of the trail which will inform you to all of the engineering feats that Prof. Lowe and his crew went through to build this railroad in the 1890's.
Continuing on, the fire road becomes even more rocky, requiring a mountain bike that much more.
The views continued to excite us as the elevation increased and the temperature cooled. Once we reached the top of the railway, we were met with overlooks that stopped us in our tracks. If you look closely, you can even spot the pacific ocean at the edge of the horizon, on the far right.
Following the route, we made our way to the Mt. Wilson Observatory and then down the Mt. Wilson Toll Road (another car free route up & down the mountain) all the way to Henninger Flats Campground where we spent our evening and bike camped for the night.
The Sunset at Henninger on the last day of summer sure was something to remember.
Late that evening our buddies Tim and Tom met us for the campout and what a swell time we had. Beers, Buds and Bikes throughout the eve.
If you're interested in riding this route, pack plenty of water, cold weather clothes for the winter and possibly rain gear if a storm is brewing. You can follow my route below or make your own - be sure to prepare yourself for 5k' of elevation gain regardless of your route to the Mt. Wilson Observatory!
"I thought of that while riding my bicycle" is one of my favorite Albert Einstein Quotes. Rumor has it that in the 50's he spent a great deal of his time up at the Mt. Wilson Observatory. Possibly he too was riding his bicycle around the top of the mountain? Admiring the radio towers and transporting himself between the barracks and the observatory? Regardless when I'm pedaling around the top of the mountain, I like to imagine Einstein himself was doing the exact same thing.
Your friendly neighborhood Bagdad - AKA bagsnbikes.