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Shuttle ride through the beautiful San Gabriel backcountry from Manker Flats to Lytle Creek.


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Map Key

11.6

Miles

18.7

KM

35%

Singletrack

7,803' 2,378 m

High

4,444' 1,354 m

Low

1,663' 507 m

Up

3,402' 1,037 m

Down

8%

Avg Grade (5°)

35%

Max Grade (19°)

Dogs Leashed

E-Bikes Unknown

Overview

This is a very nice cross-country shuttle ride through the San Gabriel Mountain backcountry with amazing views that only requires moderate downhill skills (intermediate to advanced-intermediate) and moderate fitness for the initial climb of 1,600 feet from Manker Flats at Falls Road to Top of the Notch.

Need to Know

Parking:
We were lucky enough to have a dedicated driver so we didn't have to park a car. At the start, you can park at Manker Flats or the ski resort. At the finish, you could park off the dirt road inside the gate or in one of the pull-outs along Lytle Creek road. Bring an Adventure Pass.

Description

Because of the backcountry section and complete lack of cell-phone service (including at the finish), I highly recommend a satellite tracker (Spot or In-Reach), GPS, paper map, bear spray, adequate water and bike-repair supplies like spare tubes and chain links.

Although technically moderate, wearing pads is a good idea because you'll pay a price if you go down in the loose, sharp rocks.

This ride involves three different sections to complete: the first section is a pretty straight-forward non-technical climb up the doubletrack Mt. Baldy Service Road from Manker Flats, starting at Falls Road, up to the Notch offering a number of south-side views over the LA Basin and Inland Empire. Take the time to stop and look at the views on the ride up. This section generally has a number of hikers and riders using this to access the summit as well as the occasional service vehicle carrying supplies to the ski resort.

The dirt doubletrack service road is generally in very good condition. The climb is 1,600 vertical feet and about 4 miles long which we completed in about 1:30. This climb culminates at the Top of the Notch ski resort which is generally open and has food available for a nice lunch. Check their operating hours before your ride if you care. It also has water to refill your hydro-pack before starting your descent to Lytle Creek in the desert.

The second section involves descending some 2,500 vertical feet and 4 miles in the backcountry down Forest Road 3N06 to a gate that blocks public vehicle access. We took about 40 minutes for this section averaging about 12 MPH when moving with a couple peaks at 20 MPH. It is unlikely you'll see any people outside of your group on this section.

This is a degraded doubletrack with some fairly significant exposure off the side. Although the steepness is moderate with no drops to clear, it is very loose and covered with scree and talus and lots of sharp rocks. It is littered with thousands of rocks that have fallen onto the road over the years with many the size of a football and you'll need to pick a clean line to avoid them. And some of those cleaner lines will take you very close to the edge. Because of the focus needed to ride safely, take the time to stop and look around—especially behind you back up the valley toward the top. And speaking of falling rocks, be aware of conditions like rain or snow-melt that might cause rock fall and ruin your day.

The third section, also 4 miles long, runs from the closed gate on Forest Road 3N06 to the entry of Lytle Creek Road at the gun range. We took about 25 minutes on this section. Once you cross the creek bed, it is likely that you'll see some Jeeps or 4X4 trucks crawling along. We saw 3 or 4 but no other hikers or bikers. The section is just as rocky as the mid-section but more compressed. The dips and ruts cut by the off-roaders make for some fun terrain.

Our pick-up point for this shuttle ride was at the gun range. The Operations Trail there might have some drinks and snacks available, so bring some cash. Phone service was very limited there and relied on Spot to send our completion message. Since we had no beta on the middle section, we didn't know if that would take us 30 minutes or 2 hours. So we finished well ahead of schedule. You could decide to continue riding on the paved single lane road to the town of Lytle Creek. It's an easy downhill ride, but has a lot of cars on it with people of varying sobriety. Honestly, I MTB because I don't like "sharing the road".

Contacts

Shared By:

Mike Muncey

Trail Ratings

  4.0 from 1 vote

#1

in Mt. Baldy

#3029

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  4.0 from 1 vote
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Photos

View back towards Mt Baldy Notch
Nov 8, 2021 near Mount B…, CA
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