Angeles Forest/Inspiration Point

This bike camping adventure took place along the route of the Mount Lowe Railway. I won't go into too much detail about he history, since there are a quite a few blogs and videos to check out. This one, for example: Mount Lowe Railway -- the guided tour.

The Mount Lowe Railway ran from 1893 to 1936, serving a resort area on Echo Mountain; one could take the railroad to various lodges in the hills. In the late 1930s the resort and all of its locations were burned to the ground. In the 1960s, the remains of the buildings were further destroyed by dynamite.

If you like climbing hills and mountains for five hours on paved and dirt roads with a load of 30 pounds, then this is the adventure for you.

I started from the Brewery Artists Lofts, Chinatown Metro Rail. I exited at Lake Street in Pasadena and wound my way north to the Chaney Trail in Altadena. That led to 2N50/Mount Lowe Road. (See route map.)

The road/trail started out as broken pavement.

At about my halfway point, the road surface turned to dirt.

The uphill was challenging; very steep in quite a few sections. Between mile 6 and mile 8, I gained close to 1,500 feet of elevation. Every 20 minutes I would take a break of a few minutes, and then attack the mountains once again. I must have stopped twelve times to do this and to rehydrate.

There were many information signs along the way interpreting the history of the Mount Lowe Railway and the area's resorts. I felt like I was on my own guided tour. During my ride, I would think about what it must have been like to live in that era and vacation in the mountains so close to Los Angeles. It was a bit eerie to think that I was riding along a railway from the late 1800s. It felt so close, yet so far away in time.

I took pictures of all the signs, because reading and comprehending them was not going to happen during my ride. I was too exhausted from climbing, sweating profusly, and thirsty. Quite a few times I would just shoot the sign and not read it at all, and move on to the next one.

As the trail was making a long and lazy turn to the right, I finally spotted the peak of the roof marking Inspiration Point.

It was a joy and relief to finally get to my last "informational destination." I knew I was getting close, about another quarter mile to go. I had never been to my camping destination; for whatever reason, I was concerned that I may not be able to camp there.

But my camp location was amazing! I had a view of Los Angeles and beyond. And the nice-sized tree worked out great, providing shade to keep my food, my drinks, and me cool. But most of all, it may have kept me safe what a nearby sign had warned about: That I was entering an area where bears and mountain lions are common. From previous camping trips, including many hunting trips with my dad, I knew I should hang my food high in a tree. Which is exactly what I did. I placed my food in my panniers and sealed it tight, and made sure that no food was in my tent. I wouldn't want this to happen to me.

Climbing for five hours was worth it. At an elevation of 4,558 feet, the views were spectacular.

And the night's dinner was sponsored by: Lanza Brothers, Buca di Beppo (leftovers), along with help from nuts, raisins, cranberriers, apples, oranges, and Oreo cookies.

Get more information about bike overnights.

Tip for this adventure: It's a very tough uphill. Many points of reference; it's like a traveling history lesson. Amazing view of the city and sunset.

Favorite local bike shop: Coco's Variety. The owner, Peter, and his mechanic staff are awesome people.

1 response so far ↓

Julian - Jul 25, 2013 at 7:48 PM

Great story Charles. I sweat profusely myself so hydration is key to remain cool and maintain mental focus. Give chia seeds a try. Since they are hydrophillic they can actually absorb 12 times their weight in water, making them highly useful in a situation such as the one you found yourself in. Look into it and see if it may be of use to you.


Julian Hadley

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