CiclaValley Rides Cogswell Dam

I tend to write a lot about local rides that are somewhat of a challenge, not always the ones you do just to enjoy.

Cogswell Dam is one of those that offers the solitude of getting away without too much of a hassle.

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You’ll know you’re entering Cogswell Dam when you get there.


Nestled off Highway 39 about a mile after the East Fork turnoff, this seven mile stretch is closed off to normal vehicular traffic leaving cyclists and hikers to wrestle over the definition of silence.

It also is a nice little detour for those doing the epic ride up to Crystal Lake.

Making it through the semi articulated gate, you drop immediately into a canyon-ish setting with the creek running alongside.

The ride is a series of small turns taking you in and out of the rockscape as you meander through.

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Nice wide open spaces to start.


While you’re technically climbing in this direction, most of it is flat enough that you’ll be in your big ring.

A road bike does fine along this path, but you also have to keep a heads up for cracks and dips as you go along.


This path is also popular for hikers too and in our case, we saw a couple of hunters carrying rifles too.

While having a closed road sounds like a good place to book it, you do have to be aware of anyone biking or walking the other way.

At about the six mile mark, you pass by the Glenn Campground which is a stopping place if you need a toilet, but no water.

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Meandering through rocks.


The last half mile is where you’ll have to pull up your pants because you’ll be climbing some serious grades to get to the dam.

While the road narrows and curves a bit more, the overwhelming feature you’ll be focused on is the steepness.

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Put your head down time.


If you’re looking for an excuse to take a break / snap some cool pics, you can pull over on the helicopter pad on the right.

Your climb nears its end as you pass through some forest facilities to make it to the front of the dam.


I call them hella-pads.


A quick look on the other side will verify that we’re still in a drought, but if you look beyond that you will see Mount Wilson.

If your bike is dirt ready, there’s a couple of alternate ways back to Monrovia and the 39 if you are so inclined.




The return is fun, but be careful going around those curves at high speed.

The whole ride is about 15 miles round trip, so it’s a little hard for me to justify driving out just to do Cogswell Dam.


If you look at the top center, you can see some of the structures on Mount Wilson.


If you’re bringing kids or people that just want to go for a little cruise, then this is the place.

Otherwise, for you mashers but if it’s part of some of your Highway 39 adventure, then it’s an excellent cool down.