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El Prieto Loop

 4.3 (36)
Trail Mapped Wrong?


8.3 Miles 13.4 Kilometers




1,262' 385 m


-1,263' -385 m



Avg Grade (3°)


Max Grade (11°)

2,396' 730 m


1,156' 352 m



All Clear 30 days ago
Dry History

Getting forecast...

A fire road climb and a fun downhill singletrack.

Alex Johnson

Overview [Suggest Changes]

The portions of this loop on Fern Truck Trail, Brown Mountain, and El Prieto Trail are within the Angeles National Forest, which restricts e-bike usage to OHV routes only.
A great lollipop loop for an after work ride! This starts with a good fire road climb that rewards with an awesome singletrack downhill.
Features: -none- [Add/Remove]
Dogs: Leashed

Need to Know [Suggest Changes]

  • El Prieto features blind corners with extreme height exposure. Use a bell.
  • This loop is part of a multi-use trail network popular with hikers, bicyclists, and equestrians. Cyclists should yield (slow down, say hi!) to hikers and stop for equestrians.

Description [Suggest Changes]

From the Windsor parking lot, head north past the Fire Danger sign and the yellow gate. This ride starts out smooth for the first mile, with a leisurely ride past the Jet Propulsion Lab campus and into the Angeles National Forest. Stay right at the fork, following signs for El Prieto Trail and Fern Truck Trail. After a creek crossing and a short climb, you'll come to a clearing where the El Prieto Trail ends. Stay left on the fire road and get ready to start a 2.5-mile climb up Fern Truck Trail.

The last quarter mile of Fern TT is relatively flat, and you'll know you've reached the saddle once you pass the hitching post. Rest, enjoy the view, and get ready for some fun. As you look out over Los Angeles, to the right is where you came from, behind you is upper Brown Mountain Rd leading to the Ken Burton Trail, and to your left is lower Brown Mountain AKA the way to El Prieto Trail.

Head down lower Brown Mountain Rd for about a mile, keeping an eye out for the El Prieto Trailhead sign on the right. This stretch of Brown Mountain is fast and fun, but can be overgrown at points.

El Prieto Trail is a unique singletrack experience. Expect to find extreme height exposure, 180-degree switchbacks, stream crossings, mandatory drops, and rock gardens all within an oak-lined canyon. This is classic mountain biking with a challenge for everyone. Beginner level riders may choose to walk some technical sections, but the trail is rideable from beginning to end for experienced riders. Beware of poison oak along this trail, as it is present all year.

El Prieto has been re-routed three times, and there are two spur trails that lead up out of the canyon to the beginning of Brown Mountain Road and The Meadows neighborhood, totaling five forks in the trail. The original trail is always to the right, taking you to the bottom of your Fern Truck Trail climb. "The right way is the right way."

However, the first three splits are all re-routes that you might not even notice, since the popular option is towards the newer trail on the left. Few choose to ride the (more technical, slower) original route. Either way is fine. The fourth and fifth forks lead up to the ridge and neighborhood on the east side of the canyon, you'll want to be sure to stay to the right on those.

It's over too soon, and you finish the El Prieto Trail right where you started your climb on Fern Truck Trail, at what used to be the log jump. As you head back the way you started from and exit the first/last water crossing look to the left for some 'Extra Credit' singletrack.

History & Background [Suggest Changes]

Brown Mountain is named for abolitionist John Brown, whose sons lived at its base. The canyons along the front range of the San Gabriel Mountains were popular vacation spots for early urban Angelenos and also for a time supported a thriving logging industry. The remains of these activities can be spotted as the occasional stretch of paved trail, stone steps to nowhere, and bare cabin foundations, as well as the debris check dams throughout the canyons.


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Your Check-Ins


Jun 7, 2018
May 28, 2018
Antonio Cr
May 20, 2018
Ben Hoang
May 20, 2018
Kyle Chin
May 12, 2018
May 8, 2018
Naterzz Limey
Tuff descent. 15mi
Apr 2, 2018
Mar 18, 2018
Garrett Johnston
Fun run! 8.3mi

Trail Ratings

  4.3 from 36 votes


in Pasadena


  4.3 from 36 votes
5 Star
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in Pasadena


in California


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7,144 Since Jan 28, 2016
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Pasadena, Ca
J P   Pasadena, Ca
Tight, technical single track with rock gardens and switchbacks....and depending on time of day, lots of hikers. Its a lot of fun but not a ride through for beginners. The whole loop from the JPL lot is an awesome ride all in all. Pause at the saddle for a nice view and usually some conversation with the locals who ride it. Great scene. Nov 22, 2017
Eddie Reyes
Eddie Reyes   EAST LA
A classic fun trail for the local MTB community and beyond. "El-P" as we call it' has served as fun after work and weekend ride for those who have an hour and a half to spare or wish to explore the region beyond it's limits, it's a gateway to the many trails in the San Gabriel Mountains so if you got the legs, lungs, and directions then ride on. I'd rate it's difficulty 5 out of 10 due to the short but punchy 3 mile climb and the tight sections of rocky trail with steep areas of exposure, if your fresh to the sport I'd say work your way up to it before you give it a go. Also, because this is a loop and there is no signs indicating a designated directional path I'd suggest not to ride or hike on what is known as the descending part of the trail on the weekend -You may get run over or cause a serious crash. Of course NO E-BIKES or skid happy riders! tread lightly please and enjoy the trail we've all come to enjoy. Apr 6, 2018
Eddie Reyes
Eddie Reyes   EAST LA
A great introduction trail to San Gabriel style mountain biking, serves as a gateway to almost anywhere in the SG mountain range and beyond if you've got the legs for it. Can be done at night or day but as mentioned perfect for a quicky after work ride with the homies. This trail has served as the "It meet up spot" for MTB clubs and perfect for those late afternoon rides in the summer time, you'll cross streams and ride under a nice and shaded canopy of green trees and fresh foliage most of the way. Some sections are challenging for some so be careful and tread lightly, bring a bell and watch out for suicidal hikers traveling up be nice and enjoy the descent. Apr 14, 2018

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