53 mi / 86 km
Yes, for hiking
Los Angeles (LAX)
Explore the roof of LA on the Angeles Crest Highway, a altitudinous 53 miles that twists and turns through the breadth of the wonderful San Gabriel Mountains. There'll be heart-thumping moments, as 1,000-foot drops whizz by on the side of the road. There'll be meditative breaks, as you discover gurgling waterfalls between the alder and pine forests. Let's begin…
North out of the big city, the road inclines steeply. The sun-scorched chapparal is gradually replaced by ever-taller trees – an old oak here, a gnarled cottonwood there. Before you know it, you'll be gliding along high above the Los Angeles basin, the urban patchwork of Pasadena and Flintridge faintly visible through the heat haze below.
There are trailheads to tempt the hikers at every bend in the highway. The one to Cedar Lookout crisscrosses babbling mountain creeks to a picnic spot with fabulous front-on views of the San Gabriel ranges. The Switzer Falls Trail delves deeper into the conifer and oak forests to happen upon a cascade that's carved its way through the granite massifs over the millennia.
It was here in 1955 when a group of adventurous Boy Scouts embarked on a camping trip, only to stumble upon a stranded hiker in a perilous situation. With ingenuity and determination, these young heroes devised a plan. Armed with nothing but their camping gear and unwavering courage, they fashioned a makeshift rope and descended into the treacherous ravine.
As darkness fell and temperatures dropped, they battled against the odds, finally reaching the stranded hiker and bringing them to safety. News of their daring rescue spread far and wide, shining a spotlight on the incredible bravery and unity of these young scouts. Their story serves as a timeless reminder that in moments of adversity, the power of compassion and the strength of teamwork can achieve remarkable feats, even along the winding roads of the Angeles Crest Highway.
As you push on, you enter the feral heart of the mountains. You'll cruise through the Angeles Crest Tunnels, which stand as testimony to the sheer engineering feats that were performed to create this highway back in the 1950s. Then, you'll bend north towards the Dawson Saddle, the highest part of the drive at almost 2,000 feet above sea level.
Feeling energetic? Good. The 11-mile up-and-back that is the Burkhart Trail awaits. It's a rewarding challenge that pushes ramblers through groves of fire-scared oak woods for views of ochre-hued canyons on the edge of the Mojave Desert. You'll even walk sections of the legendary Pacific Crest Trail, one of the longest hikes in the USA!
The Mountain High Ski Resort is the end of the road. Built to woo the Olympics in a bid for the games back in 1932, it's among the oldest ski resorts in the whole country. These days, it's the go-to skiing hub for LA locals, offering a whopping 290 acres of skiable terrain. We hope you packed the salopettes!
As you reflect on the twists and turns of the highway, you can't help but feel a sense of exhilaration and serenity. The experience has awakened your spirit of exploration and allowed you to disconnect from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. The Angeles Crest Highway reminds us of the grandeur of nature and the sheer magnitude of its power.
Additionally, there are luxurious mountain resorts and lodges like the Angeles National Forest Lodge or Mount Baldy Resort that offer upscale amenities, such as spas, gourmet dining, and breathtaking vistas.An adventure pass is required to be displayed in vehicles when using the Forest for recreation purpose.
Information about where to purchase day/multi-day/annual passes can be found at the Forest ServiceGot a tip for this route? Send us yours! The road is sealed and generally in good condition, however it does experience closures due to snowfall, rockslides, wildfires, or maintenance work.
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