Cycling Mt. Wilson - a top Southern California bike climb beginning in La Cańada Flintridge
Ride 18.1 miles gaining 5,376’ to elevation 5,658 at 4.5% average grade.
Beginning in Flintridge, we ride through a residential area for 1.8 miles to the point where road narrows to 2 lanes and becomes more rural and scenic. While this is a great climb from mile 9.2 on, the first 9 miles are unpleasant due to a narrow shoulder and heavy traffic that travels at highway speeds (i.e., 60+). At the junction of Hwy 2 and County Route N3, we continue on Hwy 2 for another 4.5 miles to Mt Wilson Road. The grade on this route is fairly steady - in the 4-6% range, rarely exceeding 7%.
First 13.8 miles of this bicycle climb are on Hwy 2
The most scenic and less nerve wracking (due to traffic) part of this climb is from miles 9 to the radio towers at the top – mile 18. We turn off of Hwy 2 at mile 13.8 and it is approximately 4 miles to the television towers at the top of the climb.
Enter Angeles National Forest at mile 2.3
Established 1908 by Teddy Roosevelt; 655,387 acres
Turn onto Mt. Wilson-Red Box Road at mile 13.7
4.3 miles at 4.6% to TV Towers and end of bike climb.
The road from hwy 2 to the top is very scenic and along a portion of the road that has sheer drop offs just over a short rock barrier. There are excellent views of San Gabriel Peak to the southeast for the first mile, we pass through Eaton Saddle at mile 16.2 and for the next couple of miles have great views of Hwy 2 and the San Gabriel Mountains to the northeast as we continue up Mt. Wilson road.
Mt. Wilson Red Box Road
Climb ends at the KCAL TV towers at mile 18. (Mt. Wilson observatory is another .5 miles past our end point, but at a lower elevation).
Just about to the top.
This is the alternate route to Dawson Saddle (Map) which avoids the 6 miles of closed Hwy 39 along the “main” Dawson Saddle climb, but is also much longer (45 miles to the Saddle - just over twice the length of the more traditional route) and includes a little over 2,000’ of descent - so, it is not a true Top Climb, by Fiets standards, anyway. We also must travel along the busy section of Hwy 2 for 10 miles.
Roadway surface and traffic: Hwy 2 has a very narrow bike lane which is often merely a white line with 6” of pavement and loose gravel to the right. Traffic is heavy and fast moving for the first 9 miles of the climb. For those who wish to avoid highway traffic, do not undertake this climb, or begin at mile 9.2, after the junction of Hwy 2 and County Route 3.
 Most of the traffic along the first stretch of Hwy 2 turns onto Angeles Forest Highway (County Route N3) at the 9.2 mile mark - this is the route to Palmdale and a connector to Hwy 14.