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That time we climbed up Mt. Wilson Toll Road - 5,515 ft up!

That time we climbed up Mt. Wilson Toll Road - 5,515 ft up!

mountain biking up mt wilson and viewing the towers at the top


As summer approaches, I am beginning to plan longer rides; ones that challenge not only physical fitness by my mental fitness as well. Now that the sun is out until 8:30pm, riding into the early hours of the night is more and more common. With good friends, good tunes and a solid route, anything is possible!

Last October, I had a wild hair up my (you know) and decided to connect some of my favorite routes in the LA Basin. Ones that traverse through old hiking and horseback riding trails. Ones that crawl along the edges of transient camps, freeways and, of course, a waterway or two.

Road Runner Bags rides in Los Angeles California on some of our famous gravel grinding routs up Mt wilson

My route starts in Echo Park and connects my favorite dirt lines through Elysian Park, shuttles down to the 110 fwy and up to Frog Town where we descend into the Arroyo Seco River and on to the Rose Bowl. Once we do our lap around the bowl, we head out and up to Devil's Gate Damn (founded by L. Ron Hubbard). From there, we continue through the Arroyo Seco all the way up to the foothills of the mountain. Once we reach the foothills, we begin to travel east to the base of Mt. Wilson where the climb begins. 

Road Runner Bags Jammer Bag in the Wild and out on some of LA's Famous Gravel Grinds and Gravel Roads

The tri-force of cycling in LA. Gravel Grinding with the Road Runner Bags crew

Before climbing up the Toll Road to Mt. Wilson, you must first recognize that the difficulty level of this route is quite high, especially in the summer months when temperatures reach 100º+! The biggest benefit to the toll road is that if at anytime you decide to turn back it's all downhill from there! The Forest Service does a fantastic job servicing the road but be careful to not get caught in the sand after a fresh grading of the surface.

Climbing Mt. Wilson Toll Road on a Gravel/Cyclocross Bike

Mt. Wilson Toll Road was built in 1891 as an access roadway for the observatories at the top. The route consists of a 10 mile gravel road switchbacking up the mountain; all while gaining 4,405 ft of elevation before arriving at the top.

 Climbing up Mt. Wilson on a Gravel Grinding Cyclocross bike outfitted with Road Runner Bags hand made in LA

 #lasucksforcycling and my route from Echo Park and up to Mt. Wilson

Rides like these require a bit of skill and prep-planning. Your bicycle should be tuned to operating perfection. Tires inflated to your needed riding pressure. You should have the appropriate bags for the job. As you can see from the photos above, bags are a crucial variable in the mountain climbing equation. A sturdy handlebar bag is needed for additional layers of clothing and food. A partial frame bag is important for storage of a water bladder for ease of drinking while riding and breaking. A durable and packed tool kit behind the saddle is important for on-the-fly bike repairs and tune ups. Whatever you're doing, do it with a smile on your face and I guarantee you, the ride will look up from there. 


For more information about this route or to acquire the GPX file, feel free to shoot me an email


A huge thank you to everyone who attended the ride (you know who you are, and a huge thank you to Tony Buccino for recording the days route!

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