“A sampling of the local singletrack trails with a steady climb and great views from the top.”
— Christopher Woodruff on Jun 1, 2013
OverviewThe Lower Sam Merrill Trail is a steady climb with many tight switchbacks. It's best to climb this in the morning as the trail is West facing and there are very few trees for shade. At the top of the Lower Sam Merrill trail, you are rewarded by great views and some local history from the ruins of the old Echo Mountain Resort and Mt. Lowe Railway.
The Sunset Ridge Trail and El Prieto Trail are all technical narrow singletrack. These trails are for intermediate and expert riders only, and intermediate riders will likely have to dismount several sections. Watch out for poison oak when it's in season. Most of the trail is north facing with lots of shade; perfect for poison oak.
DescriptionPark in the lot by the east side of JPL. Ride North on the Gabrieleno Trail, a private paved road, and turn off onto a short dirt climb up to W Altadena Drive. You'll be riding the road over to the start of the lower Sam Merrill trail. Continue on W Altadena Drive and turn left at Olive Ave. Turn right onto W Loma Alta Drive and continue to the trailhead when it intersects with Lake Blvd.
Now start onto the dirt section by starting up the Lower Sam Merrill trail. Make your way up all the switchbacks. At the top, you should ride out to the vista point and check out the ruins of the Echo Mountain Resort and Mt. Lowe Railway. There is some decent shade, so it's a great spot to take a break.
Ride the short section back towards the Lower Sam Merrill Trail, but keep climbing on the Mt. Lowe Railway Trail instead. At the end of this trail, you'll come to a paved road. Ride a couple hundred feet down the road and start onto the Sunset Ridge trail on the right. You'll want to open up the shocks for the next descent.
Follow the Sunset Ridge trail down 0.8 miles. Here the trail will come really close to the paved road and another vista point with some picnic tables. Stay right on the trail and continue down the rest of Sunset Ridge for 1.5 miles. At the end you'll meet up with the paved road. Follow this road down for about 0.25 miles.
There will be a trail turning right off the road from here. This will take you down into Millard campground. Keep going on the fireroad through Millard campground for about 1 mile to get to the start of the El Prieto singletrack.
Turn left down the El Prieto singletrack. There are a couple of splits in the trail, but they come back together. I usually stay left on the first split and right on the second split. Enjoy the fantastic technical descent with drops, tight switchbacks, stream crossings, and rock gardens. When you get to a fireroad, continue down, cross the stream and enter the last bit of singletrack on the left. Follow the paved road back out to the parking lot.
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