7th North County Cruisers

Angeles Crest Highway/ Big Bear Adventure

October 5th-7th, 2012

Writeup by Steve Malott

Pictures by Alan Miller

Note: As of October 7th, 2012, Angeles Crest Highway is now completely open. There are no closed roads.

Previous Angeles Crest Rides:

September 23rd - 25th, 2011 Angeles Crest / Big Bear Ride

October 1st-3rd, 2010 Angeles Crest / Big Bear Ride

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

Our 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.

Related Links:

Angeles Crest Route Instructions

Big Bear Route Instructions

Friday, October 5th

Riding to our Cajon Pass Hotel plus a local ride

Friday Night Party

A big surprise this year was how many people chose to arrive on Friday afternoon and evening compared to past years. It is a long day if you ride up on Saturday morning, do Angeles Crest Highway, and ride home the same day. The hotel room charge of $63 per day (plus $4.41 tax) was quite reasonable, especially when split between two people.

The downside of riding up on Friday was Columbus Day weekend traffic. People were taking off for the long weekend and the traffic got heavier as it got later.

I trailered my bike and Cynthia Carter's bike. We were joined by Rick Widmark and Pauline along with Bill Green. We drove up on Friday afternoon. The drive was uneventful except for a couple slow spots on I-15. When we arrived at the hotel, we found that John Piner and Mary Barrington had already arrived. Dan Lehtonen & Donna, Stuart Cook, Mike Stanbery, Eric Zucker & his daughter Vanessa, Doug Bonhaus, Darren & Norma Hooper, Cynthia Carter, and Alan Miller all joined us over the next couple of hours.

Once we were all settled, I led a one hour ride for a group of 12 of our bikes. We took Rt. 138 East and then took Rt. 173 over to Hysperia. We then turned around and took the same route back. This is a twisty route thru rolling hills with a great view of the mountains. Part of this route, we would see again on Sunday morning.

When we got back to our hotel, 8 of us decided to ride to Wrightwood for dinner. We stopped at the Evergreen Cafe and sat at a large table. The cafe had extensive decorations for Halloween. We especially liked the large spiders hanging from the ceiling. The spiders were connected to the entrance door and would lower whenever someone came in.

We had one unusual sight outside the cafe as we saw a woman with a small crib. In the crib was her pet pig which she was feeding.

We returned to the hotel and were joined by the rest of our group outside, next to the pool. A great first day!

Saturday, October 6th

Angeles Crest Highway

Angeles Crest Road Map

In addition to our Friday group, Paul rode up Saturday morning along with Rich Beeson and Steve DeRosa and Mary. Lew Thompson rode in from Corona and Stuart's friend Mike Brink rode in from Huntington Beach. This brought us to a grand total of 19 bikes and 25 people for our Saturday ride. A very nice turnout.

Everyone filled their tanks and prepared to ride. Alan noticed a wet spot under his bike and found that it was a coolant leak. This was quickly fixed by tightening two clamps.

Approaching Wrightwood

With Alan fully operational and dashing ahead to take pictures, we started on the ride. We rode thru Wrightwood and continued West on Rt. 2, Angeles Crest Highway. Since Wrightwood is at 6,000 feet, it didn't take us long to reach the first viewpoint at 7300 feet. We took several group pictures and then resumed riding.

Angeles Crest Viewpoint

Just like past years, we had to dodge small rocks that had fallen on the road. This was a minor distraction as we enjoyed the endless sweepers. We climbed over the highest point at 7901 feet and began our gradual descent. We made our second stop at the Jarvi Viewpoint. We had a minor problem where the outhouse was closed. Several of our riders needed facilities. I assured them that Newcomb Ranch was about 20 minutes away and they did not want to experience the Viewpoint Outhouse. Last year, it was a very gagging experience. No wonder it was closed.

Another lesson that we learned from last year was keeping the group together. This year, I would stop at the entrance to make sure no one blew by. Meanwhile, Mary would lead everyone into the parking area. This worked well.

Angeles Crest Tunnel

We resumed riding and immediately passed thru two long tunnels. I bunched up all of the bikes so we could rev our engines and enjoy(?) the echos. Our next stop was Newcomb Ranch where we had a restroom break. We watched bikes and sports cars come and go. Since we were on a somewhat tight time schedule, I kept us moving.

Next we had an optional side trip up to the Mt. Wilson antennas. This year, everyone chose to make the twisty ride up and back down. I waited at the turn while Mary led everyone up. We stopped in a huge parking lot and enjoyed the view towards L.A.

Mt. Wilson Antennas

We rode back to Angeles Crest Highway and followed it down to I-210. We took this West to the Sunland exit where we took our lunch break. We had made excellent time so we allowed an hour for lunch.

Following lunch, we took Oro Vista and climbed back up the mountains. We took a short break at the Big Tijunga Dam Viewpoint. I almost blew past the turn since they have not repaired the signage that was destroyed in the last fire. We did notice a number of discarded medicine containers that were marked "medical marijana". It must have been quite a party there.

Big Tijunga Dam

We took Big Tijunga Road to Angeles Forest Roadn and then took Upper Big Tijunga Road. This brought us to the most popular part of the ride. Everyone had seen this 40 mile section of Angeles Crest Highway but we had stayed together, riding around 45 mph. Here we split up and rode individually at whatever speed we wished. I was surprised when everyone took off typically riding around 50 mph.

Angeles Crest Twisties

We regrouped at the Grassy Hollow Visitor Center and were ahead of schedule. Following a tour of the visitor center, some of our riders dashed for the hotel or for home. I led a group of 10 bikes on Big Pine Highway towards the Devils Punchbowl County Park. This is a very twisty road with a number of switchbacks. I was pleased that everyone handled this well.

We did stop to take a number of pictures at signs marking the San Andreas Fault. Everyone wanted a picture of themselves taken with their own cameras. This was more fun than I expected.

San Andreas Fault

We reached the Devils Punch Bowl with plenty of time to look around. The punch bowl is huge and it is always interesting to look at the three owls that they keep in cages. The owls have been rescued and are not capable of living in the wild due to injured wings, etc. My favorite part of the punch bowl is the visitor center where they have a number of interesting exhibits including a number of live rattlesnakes (in glass aquariums).

Visitor Center Rattlesnake

It was almost 5 P.M. and we decided to take Big Pine Highway back to Wrightwood and have dinner there. This time we went to the Mexican restaurant and sat at another large table. Following dinner, we picked up wine/beer and snacks to take back to the hotel. We had another nice gathering outside by the pool. It was a long and fun day.

Sunday, October 7th

Big Bear and Home

Big Bear Group

Three of our bikes (Paul, Lew, and Mike Brink) had gone home so we had 16 bikes and 22 people for our Sunday Big Bear Ride. This was a new record for our Sunday ride. Usually a significant portion of our bikes would skip Big Bear and simply head for home. It was nice to show off parts of the Big Bear area that we don't normally ride.

Big Bear Road Map

We rode East on Rt. 138 and worked our way thru the same tight twisties that we had ridden on Friday

Eastbound on Rt. 178

We stopped at the Vista Point at Silverwood Lake and took several group pictures.

Silverwood Lake Group Picture

We resumed riding East and climbed up the mountains. We had a number of 180 degree tight switchbacks reminiscent of Mesa Grand Road. We passed thru a couple small fishing towns and came up to a dangerous intersection that I had warned everyone about. We had a yield sign and there was a oncoming car with his left turn signal on. I made a quick decision and took the right away from him. He was nice to let us get thru the intersection since it would have been awkward to stop.

The roads now became wider but the traffic also became heavier as we continued on the "Rim of the World Drive". This road follows the ridge of the mountains Eastward and has a great view to the right. We felt like we were on the edge of the world. We entered a small town and took a restroom break at a gas station.

Big Bear View

We continued East and climbed up to 6,000 feet. We stopped at a view point and took a number of pictures looking out on the mountains. Two of our bikes split off to dash for home and other activities.

We rode past several ski areas and headed into Big Bear. I took us thru the downtown area and we parked near the Mexican Restaurant where we ate last year. Our group spread out among several restaurants with a number of us going to the Mexican Restaurant again. During lunch, we received a call from Dan Lehtonen who had dropped off Donna at the Ontario airport. He had discovered thread showing on his rear tire (which only had 5500 miles on it). He asked if I could give him a ride home.

Following lunch, Alan offered to lead the main group of 12 bikes once around Big Bear lake (thru Fawnskin) and then over San Gorgonio. Meanwhile, I led Cynthia and Rich directly over San Gorgonio. This way I could load up our bikes and then pick up Dan. Dan was then able to help me unload the bikes at my house before I dropped him off. Thanks to Alan for covering for me.

The Big Bear ride was a nice finish to a great weekend for riding. Thanks to everyone for joining us!