Page Contributor(s): Bruce Hamilton, La Quinta, CA, USA; Stacy Topping, Tacoma, WA, USA
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Cycling Crystal Lake -- this top Southern California bike climb shares
much of its length with the Dawson Saddle Top US 100 route.
Ride 14.2 miles gaining 4,894’ to 5,818’ elevation at 5.9% average grade.
This moderately popular bike climb is fully within the Angeles National Forest (established 1908; 655,387 acres; the first National Forest in the state of California).
Before heading out on your Crystal Lake bike climb, be sure to rely on our list of Things to Bring on a Cycling Trip, and use our interactive checklist to ensure you don't forget anything.
Ride or drive through Azusa on your way to the start 12 miles north.
Glendora Mountain Road to the north of Morris Reservoir on drive to our start.
This climb begins at the San Gabriel Off Highway Staging Area, which comes with a parking fee charged. Although the area can be very crowded on weekends, during the weekdays (and even some weekends), the traffic is moderate for the first few miles up the mountain and mild thereafter.
The first several miles of this climb are unimpressive, but miles approximately seven to the turnoff to Crystal Lake at mile 11.8 are dramatic, with views back to the south of the big switchbacks just navigated.
First half of the climb
Above the first set of hairpins at mile 6.5
Hairpins left center of photo.
Upper hairpins - at top of video clip is Crystal Lake area.
Upper section of the climb before the turn off to Crystal Lake
This first section of the climb from start to the turnoff to Crystal Lake is at 5.5% average grade ascending 3,700'. At about mile 11.8 we turn right and climb the final 2.3 miles at 6.0% grade to the dead end parking lot at the top.
Turn right onto Crystal Lake Road at mile 11.8.
2 miles at 6% after turning off Hwy 39 onto North Crystal Lake Road.
The Crystal Lake Cafe and Store are about 1.9 miles up the hill from the turnoff at Highway 39 and serve great grilled sandwiches.
Stacy Topping knocks off another Top 100 👍🚴⛰👍
Roadway and Traffic Report: Although the first 12 miles of this climb are on a highway, it is mildly traveled as you ascend towards the switchbacks and canyon several miles from the start. The road for the most part is wide and has a good bike lane and shoulder. After turning onto Crystal Lake Road you will encounter minimal traffic along a well maintained road for the remainder of the climb.