Climb summary by PJAMM Cycling’s Sam Lyons
Aerial view of the climb with the summit in the distance (towers)
This climb starts just to the north of Bear Divide right across the street from where the road to Camp 9 starts. Camp 9 is an extremely popular climb outside of Santa Clarita/San Fernando, with nearly 20k strava attempts. Camp 9 includes water fountains, shady trees, and friendly firefighters, whereas Magic Mountain… does not.
You could describe Magic Mountain as the evil twin to the Camp 9 climb: a bit longer, a much steeper climb gradient, and a horrendous surface. Plus, when we did it in June 2021 it was 98 degrees when we reached the summit 🔥🥵🔥
We started off the day parking at Hansen Dam Park, a great place to start a ride through Tujunga Canyon, Camp 9, or Magic Mountain. We decided to do Camp 9 first, and good thing we did - we ran out of water just before reaching the water fountains at the fire station on the summit.
After descending back to Bear Divide, we debated whether or not to keep going and document one more climb in the rising heat- it was already 10am with temperatures already approaching 90. For better or worse, with refilled water bottles we decided to push on.
The climb is closed to cars
The average grade is deceiving for this ride, skewed by two short descents of -5% - however, the climb gradient is above 8%, with brief sections getting well above 10%, and combined with the slippery gravel surface, well, not fun.
With less than a mile remaining, I got a flat (no surprise considering the surface and my worn-in 28mm tires). To make it better, I’d forgotten my CO2 inflator and had to wait for my friends to catch up. And to make it even better, the temps had risen into the high 90s by then, and there is NO SHADE along the entire climb, unless you want to crawl into a shrub (I did while I waited, since my sunscreen was gone long before).
With the flat fixed, we continued to the top. Fittingly, the top is 100% gravel, and has a rather underwhelming view considering a pure summit finish. The top is industrial, having some sort of radio tower, fenced off building, and old water tanks.
The steepest section is right before the summit and is “walk your bike” material.
The best views come from along the final mile, and there is a cool hairpin half a mile into the climb. Overall, even though my experience was awful, I have to recommend it - I’m a sucker for remote climbs that get way out there, and this one stretches 7 miles into the desolate San Gabriel wilderness. This ride would certainly be more fun with a gravel bike.