8th North County Cruisers

Angeles Crest Highway/ Big Bear Adventure

October 4th-6th, 2013

Writeup by Steve Malott

Pictures by Alan Miller, John Piner, Roger Perez, Steve Schneider, and Kim Humphreys

Previous Angeles Crest Rides:

October 5th - 7th, 2012 Angeles Crest / Big Bear Ride

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

As usual, 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.

Related Links:

Angeles Crest Route Instructions

Big Bear Route Instructions

Friday, October 4th

Riding to our Cajon Pass Hotel plus a local ride

We had 17 bikes and a car travel to our Best Western Hotel located at Rt. 138 and I-15. We traveled in separate groups with the main group departing at 11 A.M. from our usual Park and Ride lot. I drove up at 1 P.M. while Gary & Tracy while Rob & Shaw Marie rode up around 3 P.M. Roger drove his Datsun sports car later in the afternoon.

Combined our group included Alan Miller, John Piner, Melissa Lichty, Kim Humphreys, Bill Gloss & Debbie Hunter, Bill & Shelley Green, Mike Warner, Roger Perez, Mary Barrington, Ken Meredith & Emily McNeal, Mike Buys, Doug Bonhaus, Rick Widmark & Pauline, Rob & Shaw Marie Clayburn, Gary Scandell & Tracy Wellman, Michael Salek, John & Terri Moran, and myself.

It had been very windy (50 mph winds) riding up with most of our riders having to lean their bikes into the wind to compensate. I had planned doing a ride to Silverwood Lake or to the Mountain High Ski Resort. Instead, we decided to simply ride to Wrightwood. We got there about 4 P.M. and most of our group went directly to the Evergreen Cafe for an early dinner. I really like this cafe since they do extensive decorations for each holiday. They were decorated for Halloween and it was a fun environment. The remainder of our group explored the town before eating. Below is a picture of animated skeletons who would play the banjo song from the movie Deliverance.

Evergreen Restaurant

We stepped outside after dinner and were surprised how cold it had become. I learned that Santa Ana winds cause warm or hot weather at the lower altitudes. The reverse happens at higher altitudes. It was 55 degrees as we rode back to our hotel in the dark. Fortunately, the temperature rose as we descended. Wrightwood is at 6,000 feet while our hotel was around 4,000 feet.

In the past, we would sit outdoors by the pool while drinking wine or beer and chatting about the day. Instead, we took over both the breakfast area and the lobby at the hotel. The woman at the desk knew us well from past years and once again was very kind to us.

Hotel Lobby

Saturday, October 5th

Angeles Crest Highway

Angeles Crest Road Map

Following a continental breakfast, we started getting ready for the day's ride. We were joined by Stuart Cook, Bruce Barnes, Steve Schneider, and Paul Garren in his mini cooper (with his dog Dozer). This brought us up to 20 bikes and 2 cars for a total of 27 people and a dog.

It was still windy and chilly as we started the ride at 9 A.M. We took Rt. 138 to Rt. 2 and rode thru Wrightwood. I had a coyote run across the road just ahead of me as I neared Wrightwood and a deer run in front of me as we left Wrightwood. Omens for the day?

Getting Ready

A big thanks to Paul for driving sweep. It was easy to look back and see his bright yellow mini cooper. Alan and Roger would ride / drive ahead to take pictures of us as we rode by. Thanks also to Steve Schneider and John Piner who took pictures and videos.

Climbing Angeles Crest Highway

Since Wrightwood is at 6,000 feet, it didn't take long to ascend to around 7200 feet where we stopped at the view point for a group picture. It was cold (45 degrees) and windy so we soon resumed riding.

Group Picture

We soon discovered that the wind had caused more rocks to fall on the rode than we usually encounter. We had to carefully pick our way thru the rocks. We were soon over the highest point at 7901 feet.

Rocks on the Road

We took our next break at the Jarvi Viewpoint and we took more pictures. It was still windy but the sun was rising. We next rode thru two consecutive tunnels. It is traditional for us to bunch up our bikes as we ride thru and rev up our engines.


When we stopped at Newcomb's Ranch after the tunnels, Mary asked me if it had been "louder than usual" when we went thru the tunnels. She was riding right behind me thru the tunnel and didn't realize that I had blasted her with the sound. (Sorry about that!) By the time we reached Newcomb's Ranch, the wind had decreased, it was warmer, and the road was relatively clear. The ride became much more fun from here on.

Newcomb Ranch

We took the side trip up to Mt. Wilson, past the antennas, and stopped for the view towards Pasadena and Los Angeles. This was just about the best view that I could remember. The Santa Ana winds had blown out much of the clouds. There still was some smog but I guess that goes with the area. The ride back down was fun and we then took I-210 to Sunland where we stopped for lunch.

Going to Lunch

Sunland was quite a constrast for us as the temperature was in the 90's, due to the Santa Ana winds. We spread out among several fast food places. We regrouped about a hour later. Note that timing is a little tight for the ride in order to see everything but still get to the visitor centers before they closed.

We resumed riding at 1:30 P.M. Roger had said goodbye so he could visit relatives in Sunland. We quickly reached open country and the weather cooled as we climbed. We had a very scenic ride across a bridge that is downstream of the Big Tijunga Dam.

Crossing the Bridge

We took our first break of the afternoon at the Big Tijunga Dam.

Big Tijunga Dam

Big Tijunga Group

I told the group that normally we ride together on Upper Big Tijunga road and then split to ride separately on Angeles Crest Highway since we had already seen that section of road. However, we had rocks this time and maybe should ride together. I gave our riders the option of still riding ahead. Immediately, 6 of our bikes took off. The rest of the group stayed with me.

We were pleased to discover that Cal Trans had cleared the road of rocks and branches. By the time we were near 7,000 feet, it was feeling a little chilly to me and I pulled over the group to add a layer. Two of our riders had been freezing so I need to remember in the future that I have "Chicago Blood". I don't chill as easily.

Angeles Crest Twisties

We soon discovered that Cal Trans had not cleared the highest points and we were back in the rocks. Since our lane was closer to the mountain, there were even more rocks. Often, we would ride the center yellow line to avoid the rocks but not go into the on coming lane.

More Rocks

We once again descended and it started getting warmer again. We regrouped at the Grassy Hollow Visitor Center even though it was closed (due to the government shutdown). At this point, Paul and some of our bikes split off to either head for home or dash for the hotel. We had 10 bikes as turned on Big Pine Highway and rode towards the Devil's Punch Bowl.

Riding to the Desert

Riding to the Desert

We stopped to have our pictures taken at the "San Andreas Fault" signs along Pallet Creek Road.

San Andreas Fault

We then continued to the Devil's Punch Bowl. Since this is a county park, it was open and had lots of visitors. I started to lead everyone to the punch bowl but saw that Alan had led them to the picnic area instead. For the second trip in a row, there were grey foxes rumaging thru the trash cans.

Grey Fox

We then looked at the punch bowl. This is always an impressive sight. Tthe picture below shows how huge it is. It is possible to hike all the way around the punch bowl although there are a lot of rattlesnakes, scorpions, etc. in the area.

Devils Punch Bowl

Next we looked at the captive owls that live in outdoor enclosures. They cannot be released due to permanently injured wings. My favorite part of the Devils Punch Bowl is the Visitor Center. Here they have live rattlesnakes in glass aquariums. They also have scorpions, tarantulas, etc. There is also a tree stump behind glass that has a nest of Italian Honey Bees that can enter thru the wall.


In one aquarium, there was a mother rattlesnake. It's baby was just a little larger than the size of a quarter.

Baby Rattlesnake

We then rode to Rt. 138 and took it back to the hotel. We took a short break before riding back to Wrightwood for dinner. This time we had dinner at the Mexican Restaurant. The food was great and it was dark as we rode back to the hotel. It was warmer so we decided to gather outside by the swimming pool. Some of our members sat in the Jacuzzi while drinking and visiting. This had been a very full and fun day.

Sunday, October 6th

Big Bear and Home

Big Bear Group

Our Sunday group was minus Roger, Paul, Gary & Tracy, Steve Schneider, and Michael Salek. However, we had met two riders from Las Vegas who had planned to ride Big Bear. We invited them to ride with us. Ray was riding a Harley Heritage Softtail while Kenny was riding a Kawasaki Concours 14. This brought our group to 18 bikes with no cars. Also, I had no designated sweep but we still managed to get by. The high winds were gone and the weather was excellent for riding.

Big Bear Road Map

The first 20 miles of the Big Bear ride are the most challenging. We rode East on Rt. 138 and it immediately gets twisty as it weaves it's way thru a hilly area. There are several 180 degree switch backs.

Eastbound on Rt. 178

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

Silverwood Lake

Silverwood Lake Group

We continued East on Rt. 138 and climbed up the mountain. This is a very twisty route with sharp, 180 degree turns. We passed thru the tiny village of Crestwood and eventfully passed thru a dangerous intersection. The road climbs up over a crest but has a yield sign where on coming cars can turn left in front of you, having the right of way. Fortunately, there were no on coming cars. The road then widened and we regrouped at a viewpoint.

Rim of the World View

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.

Rim of the World View

We entered a small town and took a restroom break at a gas station. We resumed riding and followed the "Rim of the World Drive". Thanks to the Santa Ana winds, the view was very clear and spectacular.

Riding to Big Bear

We took Rt. 18 East towards Big Bear City and passed several ski areas. We were running ahead of schedule and would arrive in Big Bear at 11 A.M. I decided to take the longer route following the Northern Edge of Big Bear Lake and then back tracking to the town of Big Bear.

Big Bear Lake Shoreline

We discovered that the main street of Big Bear is closed and all torn up with construction. We followed the detour and turning into the Public Parking lot. We split up into groups and ate at several restaurants. There was also a little time to look around.

Following lunch, we gassed up and regrouped. We resumed riding at 1:30 P.M. We took Rt. 18 East and then switched to follow Rt. 38 up over San Gorgonio. The highest point is 8443 feet and traffic was generally light.

Big Bear View

It wasn't until the end that we were caught at the end of a pack of cars. We followed Rt. 38 until it met I-10. At that point, I waved goodbye to the group as I rode back to my hotel to load up my bike and trailer it home. Thanks to Ken for leading the group back to San Diego.

It was a great weekend. Thanks to everyone for joining us.