Dirt Riding in SoCal

Discussion in 'West – California, the desert southwest and whatev' started by monster84, Sep 18, 2005.

  1. monster84

    monster84 Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2005
    Oddometer:
    31
    Location:
    Santa Monica, CA
    anyone know of a good place to go dirt riding in southern California? I really want to get my Super Sherpa dirty but I have no idea where to go!
    #1
  2. MotoMike

    MotoMike Washed Up Desert Racer For The 2nd Time

    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2004
    Oddometer:
    5,567
    Location:
    SW Colorado
    The closest place is Rower Flats, or Texas Canyon as us oldtimers like to call it. Take the 405 north to the 5 north to the 14 north. Exit at Sand Cyn and turn left to Sierra Hwy. Make a right on Sierra drive until you see the sign for Rower Flats OHV area. There is every thing from mild to wild as far as trails go. They have a rating system and it seems to be accurate. There is also Hungry Valley in Gorman, that has lots of trails and also leads into the Los Padres Natl Forest if you have a street legal bike. Please note that since both of these places are close to urban populations, they are very busy on weekends and can be pretty dangerous due to the knucklehead factor. Texas Cyn is free, Gorman cost 5 or 7 bucks on the weekend, free during the week and the place is empty. And then there is the desert, with more places to ride than I feel like writing about right now. PM me if you want some more info.

    Mike

    PS: I notice you're in Santa Monica. You should try to make a 'Tard gathering. Keep an eye on this board for details.
    #2
  3. G.Kennedy

    G.Kennedy ...

    Joined:
    Oct 10, 2002
    Oddometer:
    1,857
    Location:
    LA, CA
    Hey Monster, My GF has a Sherpa, we help your dad registering your bike when it came in.

    My recommendation to start getting a feel for dirt would be to go out to some of the drylake beds in the area. They are mostly out by Palmdale so its kind of a haul to get there. Nice flat surfaces, then trails going out, easy going.

    Next Tard gathering I will have my GF come along and the two of you can compare your Sherpas. I know yours has had the jetting redone. Your dad gave me the info, but I have not gotten around to doing hers yet.

    She has been taking her Sherp to Gorman on weekdays and having a blast.
    #3
  4. monster84

    monster84 Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2005
    Oddometer:
    31
    Location:
    Santa Monica, CA
    Thanks everyone for the suggestions! I'll definitely keep my eye on the board for 'tard gatherings. Hopefully I can make it on a night when I don't have work. Is there a certain day of the week it generally falls on?

    G. Kennedy--sounds like a good plan... I'd love to meet another girl who rides. the only ones I meet are on the back of their boyfriends' Harleys (ugh). Thanks again for all your help with my bike! If not for you I would not have a bike... I really appreciate it! And tell your girlfriend thank you as well for me! I know she probably didn't want her bike being ripped apart. I owe you both a big favor if you ever need one. :-)
    #4
  5. Donkey Hotey

    Donkey Hotey De Jo Momma

    Joined:
    Aug 18, 2005
    Oddometer:
    15,506
    Location:
    20 Mule Team Trail (Palmdale, Ca)
    I looked at your profile but didn't see any other bikes listed. Having grown up in the SF valley (dewd) I'm pretty familiar with the area as are others on here. So questions:

    1) Are you street legal?

    2) Trailering even if you are legal?

    3) ANY past riding experience off road?

    4) How much time do you want to devote to 'an outing'?

    Let us know and we can give you better guidance.
    #5
  6. Zen Slug

    Zen Slug Spineless Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2005
    Oddometer:
    6,086
    Location:
    Near Vana
  7. monster84

    monster84 Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2005
    Oddometer:
    31
    Location:
    Santa Monica, CA
    This is my first and only bike... for now. :-) Yes I'm street legal, my first time on a bike EVER was in the dirt (lasted about 4 hours), and I want to devote at least a whole day to riding. My work/school schedule is a little hard to work around but it can be done.
    #7
  8. Donkey Hotey

    Donkey Hotey De Jo Momma

    Joined:
    Aug 18, 2005
    Oddometer:
    15,506
    Location:
    20 Mule Team Trail (Palmdale, Ca)
    Good, so you've got your license and you're ready to go. You didn't mention transportation so I'm going to guess that 100 road miles going and coming isn't going to cut it. Are you an Auto Club member? If so, go get the Los Angeles and Orange Counties map. It has pretty complete dirt road coverage around here (not everything but at least the major ones).

    My advice if I were dragging you out for a first adventure ride would be to find your way to Angeles Crest (from La Canada) or Big Tujunga Canyon (Sunland). Either/or it's your choice, though Big Tujunga has more gentle grades--easier on your 250. Head into the mountains. If you take Angeles Crest, turn left on Angeles Forest. If you take Big Tujunga, turn left on Angeles Forest. When you get to the road summit, there's a vista point and Mill Creek ranger station. At that summit, a road heads north-west to Mt Gleason. Take that turn. It's more or less paved up to Mt Gleason though it's sandy in places. From Mt Gleason-on, it's dirt. You'll be up on the ridge and you'll get awesome vistas of the Santa Clarita valley all the way past Lake Castaic and Pyramid on one side. On the other side, you'll be looking across the San Fernando Valley and LA basin.

    You have to be careful as there are a number of dirt roads forking off of the main road but it's not too hard to stay on track (the 'obvious' road is the widest, best maintained one). It eventually turns to pavement again and heads down to Little Tujunga Canyon / Sand Canyon road. The road changes name at a summit about 1/4 mile from where you intersect. Turning left will take you back to Lake View Terrace and the 210. Right gets you to the Sand Canyon off-ramp on the 14 freeway (In & Out Burger at that ramp).

    If time permits, you can do one more detour before heading back to the 210 or 14. From where the road intersects Sand Canyon, turn left and go 1/4 mile back to the summit. At that point, there is another road and the Bear Divide Ranger Station. The road is usually marked as 'Closed' though I've never seen the gate closed. You can take it up to the fire station and heliport hanging over the edge of the San Fernando Valley. You'll reach the fire station and the road goes right through the middle of camp. Go through but obviously respect the helipad (yes I've been there when they were taking off and landing). Just beyond the helipad, the road climbs up to some broadcast towers where you can park and take in the views. There IS a dirt route back to the 14/5 interchange from here but don't do it alone and I wouldn't recommend it for a first timer. It wasn't that rough the last time I did it but I haven't been through there since last year's rains. From here, backtrack to Sand Canyon / Little Tujunga and pick your route home (14 or 210).

    And to add some history to your Adventure (now I feel like Huell Howser), the sites you visit along this route used to be part of the Nike Surface to Air Missle Defense system around the Los Angeles basin. In fact, we owe most of the roads (dirt AND paved) in those mountains to military spending.

    Mill Creek Range Station used to be a staging and maintenance house. It may have also housed a missle elevator. The Mount Gleason Conservation Camp was a missle site and I've read that the elevator is still active there (don't stop though--it's now a prison work camp). The antenna arrays at Magic Mountain are part of the communications network. Finally, the fire station with the helipad above Sylmar was also a launch site and the antennas at the end of the road were part of its communications.

    Another fun route would be to find your way up Lake Hughes Road to the Sawmill / Libre Mountain Ridge. It's dirt all the way along the ridgeline and drops you on the "Old Ridge Route" (the original route to Los Angeles before the freeway went through). Again, the Ridge Route is often marked as 'Closed 5 miles ahead' but the gate is rarely closed. The gas and electric maintenance trucks are constantly through checking on the lines. You can ride it south and pick up the 5 at Violin Summit or continue on to Castaic Junction. I have 4 pictures from the route on my website. This road flanks the Gillette mine and ranch. Yes, the Gillette is the razor tycoon. I understand that he spent his retirement looking for gold and silver on this property north of Lake Castaic.

    The biggest advice I can give is to top off your gas before you leave civilization. You never know when you might have to turn around and retrace 50 miles because the road was out or you couldn't negotiate something. It's best to ride with somebody. I'm on the other side of the mountain (Palmdale) but if you need somebody to ride with I could possibly meet you at the pavement turnoffs along these routes. Most of my friends are beyond riding dirt roads and don't care about vistas. I haven't done either route in years. Kind of amazing that way--it's in your backyard so you never seem to go.

    If you go, we expect photos and a ride report :thumb
    #8
  9. alcesito

    alcesito Nube

    Joined:
    Jun 8, 2005
    Oddometer:
    110
    Location:
    El-Lay
    I've been riding up Little Tujunga/Santa Clara Ridge and some of the Forest Roads up there lately. There are definitely some great vistas if you get up there early and ride up above the cloud layer.

    Also been up to Rowher the past two Friday mornings. The main roads are fun on a big bike and not too hard. I took the DR650 up one trail (Texas Trail) that was marked Easy, then 200 yards later was "More Difficult". Took that about a mile before I figured a solo newbie probably shouldn't be riding that. Turned around and came back. Sorry, no pix.

    Anyway, if anybody wants to hook up for some easy offroad on a Saturday, I'm game. The Ridge Road, Angeles Forest, whatever -- Post, PM or email me. It would be nice to get a couple people to ride with.:ear
    -alcesito (ty)
    #9
  10. Zen Slug

    Zen Slug Spineless Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2005
    Oddometer:
    6,086
    Location:
    Near Vana
    Sounds like some fun riding you've been doing. I'll bet if you start a thread in the "West" forum a week before you plan to ride you'll get a few folks who would be more than happy to join you on one of your rides.

    I'm out until mid-October, myself.

    Don't forget to take lots of pictures and post a ride report!
    #10
  11. alcesito

    alcesito Nube

    Joined:
    Jun 8, 2005
    Oddometer:
    110
    Location:
    El-Lay
    Good idea. Have started one.
    #11