Iron Mountain Loop Mountain Bike Ride



Fire road and paved mountain roads




Elevation Gain


1734’ per GPS

Starting/Max Elevation


3511’ / 4660’ per GPS

Starting Coordinates


34 20.467’ N, 118 06.591’ W

With the exception of the first 5 miles on pavement, this is a fire-road loop, shared with off road vehicles. However, because the road is steep and rough in places it sees very little traffic and it is very quiet up here. I’ve yet to see other cyclists or hikers on the trail, and if a motorised vehicle is on the dirt road there is plenty of opportunity to pull over and let the dust settle.

Note for a fire-road ride this gets technical in places. There are a few steep and rutted spots on the climb (although the surface is normally well packed) and an especially short steep section on the downhill. However these sections are short and easily walked.

Getting there

Take the Angeles Forest Highway either from the Angeles Crest (Highway 2) or the 14 freeway to Monte Cristo Campground, approximately 19 miles from the 210 freeway exit. Turn into the campground and continue to the Southern end where you will find day use parking. There is a day use fee unless you display a Forest Adventure pass. Google directions to start


The Ride

View South from Upper TujungaFrom the campground exit left onto the Angeles Forest Highway, heading South. This is an easy descent and very soon you will be at the junction with Upper Big Tujunga Canyon Road, at 1.42 miles. Go left, and prepare for some climbing. For a paved road this is quite a warm up and especially if the sun is already beating down, since there is no shade; that’s why I like to get this section of the ride done at the start rather than the end of the loop.

After 4.96 miles you should see the ungated fire road 4N18 on the left (note at the time of writing it’s position on google maps is wrong).

From here it’s a 3.5 mile climb that gets progressively steeper. In spring and early summer expect a few stream crossings, but nothing too deep. To keep you entertained there are varying views of well known peaks such as Mount Wilson and Strawberry to the South. From this side Strawberry peak looks remarkable different to the view seen from the front range, being very shear and not resembling a strawberry at all. Also, at 7.7 miles there is a car that has certainly seen better days. Little remains to identify what make/model it was; Steep descent aheadour best guess is a 60’s era Ford Mustang.

The road appears to plateau at 8.44 miles, but the climbing starts again after dropping 100’. Finally at 9.11 miles the climbing is over and the real challenge begins! The road was once paved, but that was long ago and now it is typically heavily rutted and potholed. That would not be a problem to fat mountain bike tires, but the real challenge comes from the gradient which puts most single tracks to shame. According to Topo! the road drops 879 feet in 1.32 miles, or 665’/mile! With the exception of one short section it is rideable, with care and good brakes.

After navigating the steepest downhill sections you enter an area of abandoned mines, although unlike some mines in the San Gabriels the remnants are not visible from the trail due to shrubs and trees. At 9.89 miles turn left at the junction of 3N23 to begin the most pleasant part of the ride as it descends into the Monte Cristo campground.

For Sale: classic car in rare condition and need of some TLC. Buyer collects


For Sale: classic car in rare condition and need of some TLC. Buyer collects

Ride log

Last Ridden


Pedal Time

Elapsed Time

Sept 7th, 08

Excellent - road is well packed, although rutted in places. All but one stream crossing was dry.

1 hour 30 minutes

2 hours






[Directions to start]

[Map in pdf (669 KB)]

[GPS Trace (waypoint every quarter mile)]

[GPS Trace (all waypoints)]

[Topo file (.tpo)]






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Site Last Modified: Tuesday, March 10, 2009