5th North County Cruisers

Angeles Crest Highway/ Big Bear Adventure

October 1st - 3rd, 2010

Writeup by Steve Malott

Pictures by Alan Miller, Dean Pregler, and John Piner

Note: Angeles Crest Highway had been closed for the past 6 years first due to an avalanche in 2005 and then a fire in 2009.

Previous Angeles Crest Rides:

October 15-17, 2004 Angeles Crest / Big Bear Ride

Our Angeles Crest Highway Group

For this trip, we set up several options for our riders. You could arrive on Friday night and check into the Cajon Pass Best Western or you could ride up on Saturday morning. A third option was to ride up on Sunday morning in order to ride Big Bear. We have people who took advantage of each option. We had a number of people who rode Angeles Crest Highway and then headed home.

Related Links:

Angeles Crest Route Instructions

Big Bear Route Instructions


October 2nd

Angeles Crest Highway

Angeles Crest Map

We had 19 bikes and 21 people on our Angeles Crest Highway. Our group included Carol Dugger, Mike and Rebecca Buys, Ron McLemore, John and Terri Moran, Dan Lehtonen, Lew Thompson, Alan Miller, Ray and Jo Barber, Steve DeRosa, John Piner, Carolyn Chapman, Dean Pregler, Paul Garren, Doug Bonhaus, Joel and Layla Acosta, Roger and Trina Perez, and Steve Malott.

The map above shows the normal route that we take for Angeles Crest Highway. With the last section closed (from Mt. Wilson to La Canada), we had to backtrack to Upper Big Tijunga and then take Big Tijunga to our lunch stop at sunland.

We started riding at 9 A.M. from the Cajon Pass Best Western. We waited for Ray Barber to arrive leading a group of 8 bikes who rode up from the San Diego area. We then took Rt. 138 past the Mormon rocks and then took Rt. 2 thru Wrightwood. At this point, we were already at 6,000 feet so it didn't take long to climb to 7300 feet where we stopped at a viewpoint.

First Angeles Crest Highway View Point

We had a 40% chance of rain and spent a fair amount of time riding on damp pavement. However, we were very fortunate to never be rained on. Instead, we had terrific riding conditions. Angeles Crest Highway is usually blocked by snow at the highest point about half of the year. We chose early October for our ride to be after summer heat but before the snow.

We continued climbing up to the Dawson Saddle which is the highest point at 7901 feet. We stopped at several viewpoints on the way to take pictures. During the climb, Layla's bike overheated and had to be left behind. She continued as a passenger with her husband for the remainder of the day.

On the way to Mr. Wilson

We took our next break at Newcomb's Ranch. This is a popular biker hangout that we were happy to find had survived the fire from a year ago. It was almost noon but we decided to continue and have a late lunch in town.

We next took a side trip up to Mt. Wilson. This road is narrow and twisty compared to the gentle sweepers we had ridden on Angeles Crest Highway.

Mt. Wilson Antennas

We stopped at the top to take pictures and then rode back down.

Heading Down from Mt. Wilson

We backtracked to Upper Big Tijunga and the took Big Tijunga Canyon Road to the viewpoint over the dam. The dam area was especially damaged by the fire and much of the signage still needs to be replaced. The water level behind the dam was low and looked very polluted. Without the trees and brush to hold the soil, there was a lot of muddy water.

Big Tijunga Dam

We took Big Tijunga Canyon Road into town and took a very late lunch break. We resume riding at 2 P.M. We backtracked the route that we used to get here but skipped the side trip to Mt. Wilson. We broke up into smaller groups so that some could ride fast while others had the opportunity to stop and take pictures. We agreed to regroup at the Grassy Hollow Visitor Center.

We arrived at 4 P.M. which is when the Visitor Center closes. We were running late mainly due to backtracking from Mt. Wilson due to the last stretch of Angeles Crest Highway being closed. Hopefully next year we won't have this detour. The good news is that Layla was able to get her bike started and rode it home without over heating.

The rest of our group continued on Angeles Crest Highway and then took the side trip to the Devil's Punch Bowl County Park. We didn't arrive there until after 5 P.M. but were pleased that the park itself is open until dusk. The Visitor Center is open until 5 P.M. so me missed out on some of the exhibits. We were able to see the rescued owls that they keep outside in cages and, of course, the Punch Bowl itself.

We decided to take the Big Pine Highway back to Wrightwood where part of the group had dinner at a restaurant while others purchased snacks and drinks. We regrouped back at the hotel for a small party before retiring for the night.


October 3rd

Big Bear and Home

Big Bear Road Map

On Sunday, we had 8 bikes (9 people) for our Big Bear ride. Our group included Ray and Jo Barber, Alan Miller, Dan Lehtonen, Steve H., Doug Bonhaus, Steve DeRosa, Carolyn Chapman, and Steve Malott. Our group was smaller than the previous day because we had ridden Big Bear several times earlier in the year. However, this ride included a section of Rt. 138 that we had not ridden.

The first stretch of Rt. 138 is very twisty with a number of switch backs. We had to use a lot of care in riding. About the time that we were getting tired of the twisties, it opened up and we picked up Rt. 18. This stretch is called the "Rim of the World" which is a great description of the view. We followed Rt. 18 all the way to Big Bear City with a couple stops at view points.

Big Bear Scenic View

We stopped to take more pictures. The sky was mostly clear and sunny. Dan mentioned that he had ridden Big Bear twice in the past month so I was quite happy to pass the lead over to him. Dan led us to the Teddy Bear Restaurant for lunch and everyone had nice meals.

We resumed riding and took Rt. 18 to Rt. 38 and rode thru the wilderness section of Big Bear. We stopped at the bottom and Dan offered to lead the ride thru Oak Glen.