What a trip! Angeles National Forest, Angeles Crest Highway, San Bernardino National Forest, Big Bear Lake, Rim of the World Highway and more is some fantastic riding with awesome views. These places are pretty popular and well-known, for good reason. At least on the San Bernardino side, it’s pretty well known for both summer and winter outdoor recreation, and stays pretty busy all year long because of that. Great hiking, water sports, biking, skiing/snowboarding, it’s got it all outdoors. The Angeles National Forest side isn’t quite the same, being more relaxed with less attractions, and the vehicle traffic reflects that. It’s generally nice and cool when surrounding temps aren’t, and the roads are pretty well maintained. I made this a 2-day trip, but you can definitely spend more time around the area. It’s worth it if you do!
Ride Description: To/from Vegas and the bottom of the mountains in California are brutal. Just get settled and hope there’s no traffic. Once you hit the base of Angeles National Forest and can see Mt. San Antonio you start to get excited, and for good reason! Coming up the north side of ACH (Angeles Crest Highway, or Route 2) there was no traffic at all when I went, and actually very few vehicles at all. It’s an awesome drive. And actually, the only time the whole first day I had any traffic that I couldn’t very easily get around was on I-210, and even that wasn’t bad because we can lane split there. Throughout the two days you’ll be inside mountain canyons, on the edge of cliffs, and some back roads that are pretty remote and super fun. The San Bernardino side definitely attracts more people, so expect more vehicle traffic over there at the top of the mountain.
Riding Tips: This is not a ride for those that don’t have self-control with the throttle, that don’t know decent braking techniques, or that are real new. Mistakes up in these mountains can mean death. ACH is fairly consistent in turn radius, but some of the other roads are definitely not. I chose not to ride too hard and just enjoy the scenery and roads, also knowing that they’re new roads to me and there’s possibilities of gravel since it’s a mountain road. Bottom line is ride your own ride, just be mindful of the consequences of a mistake. Also make sure you’re ready for long days; while the planned route says 9.5 hours, that turns into 12 when you’re talking about all the stops for gas, food, and photos. Stay hydrated, keep your body well and you’ll have a good time. If the temps on the way back are into the 100s you cannot drink enough.
Recommendations: Don’t go in the summer. The ride between Las Vegas and the base of the mountains are long, boring, and potentially life-threateningly hot. You should go when temps in the desert sections are at/under 100*F. When I was coming back to Las Vegas, the temp at Baker was 118*F (you can see the largest thermometer in the world there!), and I was very near heat stroke, definitely into heat exhaustion territory. I felt sick, had to go in and cool down before I could continue, and was actually pretty nervous about making it to Primm. But also, it gets cold and snows up in the mountains there early, so make sure you plan that out well. Bring lots of water with you just incase, and I’d suggest going with someone else. Big Bear is pretty busy all the time, so just take it easy once you start hitting hikers parked on the side of the road and through the village up there. And remember to stop a couple times and enjoy the views and nature, that’s why you’re there! Make sure your tires are in good condition as well, you’ll be on the sides of them very often. Check your pressures, make sure your whole bike’s maintained before this trip. Also keep an eye out for wildfires. There was a couple large ones the weeks before I went, and one actually started during my trip! Was pretty wild, the fire was about 2 miles south of where I rode no more than an hour prior, and there was nothing there at that time. I saw the smoke when I was on top of the mountain, in some of the photos you can see where the smoke came up and over the mountains.
The Route: Before you go, make sure you check for road closures. Glendora Mountain Road was closed when I went due to wildfires. I planned gas stops for sport bike riders, so the longest leg is 113 miles between gas, that’s from Primm to Barstow. If for some unfortunate reason you have less range than that, just stop in Baker also. You’ll take I-15 all the way down until you get to just south of Victorville, then you’ll peel off to go hit the last gas station before finally getting to ACH. You’ll take ACH for a bit until you make a hard right onto Upper Tujunga Canyon Rd., and then another right onto Angeles Forest Highway. Next turn will be onto Route 14, and you’ll make a pit stop for gas shortly after. After continuing on Route 14, you’ll exit for Sand Canyon Rd. Sand Canyon Rd. just kinda turns into Little Tujunga Canyon Rd., which you’ll take around to I-210 for a short time, then exit for gas. After getting gas you’ll head back up the mountain on Big Tujunga Canyon Rd., turn right onto Upper Big Tujunga Rd, then hang another right onto ACH again. After coming back down you’ll hit I-210 for a while again, and there’s almost guaranteed to be traffic there. Remember, lane splitting is legal in California, just do it right and be safe. Don’t give bikers a bad name. After being on I-210 for what’s going to seem like wayyyyy too long, you’ll exit towards San Gabriel Canyon Rd. You’ll take that up and hang a right on Fork Rd., then hopefully down Glendora Mountain Rd. Head down to I-10 and that’s all she wrote for day 1.
On the second day, you’ll catch I-15 and then I-210 until exiting for Route 18. You’ll take 18 up the mountain for a while, and you’ll want to stop for some photos. You’ll then make a left and quick right towards Lake Arrowhead. Back here the roads can be a little confusing, so just follow 189, then Grass Valley Rd, then 173 before a left onto Kuffle Canyon Rd. and another left back onto Rim of the World Highway (Route 18). You’ll take that all the way through Big Bear, then a right onto Route 38. Take that all the way down the mountain before snaking through a few backroads getting to Route 330. Take 330 to the top of the mountain and catch Route 18 again, then a left to get to the north side of the lake where Route 18 continues. You’ll then head down the mountain on the north side, hitting Route 247 before I-15 north once again, and then it’s just that long stretch back to Vegas.
Here’s the link to the route for day 1: https://goo.gl/maps/fbJAVsyhJyqj8hxP6
And day 2: https://goo.gl/maps/mgt1zXQnBWGb24ZFA
And now, photo dump:
If you have any questions or comments, please let me know. Ride safe!