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West Fork San Gabriel

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Ah, Wilderness! (Angeles National Forest, that is)

West Fork of the San Gabriel
Hard to get to, but many think it’s worth it.

This is just about the ruggedest area you’ll find on this web site — yet the path isn’t only for mountain bikers, it’s really a pleasant, paved, Class I path, and the entire 6-7 mile ride (one way) is quite doable, except for the very western end, where it gets moderately hard as you approach the Cogswell Reservoir. (The bike trip is a lot easier than the drive up from Azusa!) When you stop at the ranger station at the bottom, they give you a nifty park map.

Thos. Guide Map ix (which means it’s north of page 568).

Current weather conditions:

Click for Azusa, California Forecast


Don’t expect many amenities – there’s a rest room & water & that’s about it.
Below: A fishing platform . . . really.
You will really know you’ve left civilization behind once you make it past the information station and up the winding 10 miles or so to the intersection of the three San Gabriel River forks.

Park in the big lot above the ranger station, then ride back over the bridge and make a right onto the bike trail. There’s a high mountain ridge on your left as you ride upstream, which keep the route shady most of the year.

This bike path is definitely the one to ride when you want to get away from it all.
For some photos that really do justice to the scenery, visit the West Fork page of Dan Slater’s Southern California Bicycle Paths web site.

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6 Comments

  1. Richard Maru

    Rode up to the gate just past the helipad, and wasn’t sure if we were allowed to ride through. The sign implies that you can’t go through, but the gate was open. Nobody around to ask, but according to Dan’s website, you can ride through, so next time I will.

    This is a very pleasant shady ride, even after that last steep part. The area is secluded and peaceful. Great place to take kids on an easy ride (if you only go as far as Glen Camp).

    Reply
  2. Arcadia Steve

    My fourteen-year-old son and I just tried out this path today for the first time – truly an escape from it all. The paved road is wide (fine for beginning riders) and in excellent condition, though you must watch out for thorns in the road near the shoulder closest to the stream. We did see one person walking his bike back with a flat tire, so bring a pump and multiple spare tires, especially if you may be traveling more than a few miles out from the trailhead.

    We only went about 2-1/2 miles in this first time (a bit past the second bridge), but there is a lot of shade, it’s very quiet, and here are many opportunities to step into the stream for a splash. It’s only a 12-miles trip north up Azusa Avenue (which becomes San Gabriel Canyon Road) from the 210 Freeway. To get here just continue one mile past the East Fork Road bridge (like you are going to Crystal Lake) and park in the West Fork Day Use area on the left. This Day Use area is just past a bridge on the left, about a half-mile past the Off Highway Vehicle (OHV) rec area (which is on the right).

    As the Terminator said … “I’ll (we’ll) be back!”

    Reply
  3. Paul

    After having ridden this path earlier today all I can say is that I will be back to ride it again. It is not a challenge really until the last 1/2 mile up to the helipad but the scenery along the way makes it all worthwhile.

    However I did not go past the private residence with the “No Trespassing” sign prominently displayed. I understand that the path to Cogswell Dam may be open but it didn’t appear to be that way to me. Perhaps on another ride I will be able to find out for sure.

    Bring water and maybe a lunch. There are picnic tables available and plenty of rocks to sit on by the river. You might want to pack a some bug repellent for this ride but I found that the only time the biting flies annoyed me was when I stopped. Keep riding and they are no problem at all.

    It is best to get here early in the day as the available parking by the afternoon will be filled.

    Reply
  4. Free

    For an extra challenge, park at the bottom of the hill just at the end of the residential area, where there is parking an a drinking fountain, and bike up the road to the “easy” part. I did it as my first “mountain” ride, and was very pleased with it. I did appreciate a car of friends behind me coming down, however, as the hill is steep and the curves a bit scary with passing vehicles.

    Reply
  5. Jack Gottes

    Anybody ride from Red Box all the way down? Looks like it would be a great trip

    Reply
  6. Mike

    This trail is also known (officially known?) as the West Fork National Scenic Bikeway!

    Reply

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