Cycling in the Snow: Mount Lukens

Yes, you can write an article both about Los Angeles and cycling in the snow.

This area is a special place for the variety of terrain, but our mountains are one of the most underrated resources.

If you’re a tourist, the first thing you think about are beaches, but even few locals know the City of Los Angeles boundaries includes a peak crossing 5,000 feet at Mount Lukens!

This holiday season the San Gabriel Mountains were blanketed by snow reaching down to much lower levels than recent years and literally a polar opposite of last year.

Taking our monthly Gravel Bike California ride up to these heights was pretty risky this time of year because the conditions could fall anywhere.



A week before the ride, the mountains received a lot of snow and while there was only a light drapery a few days before, the cold weather helped maintain the winter surroundings.

Even though some friends went up a couple of days before to compromising conditions, the hope was that 48 hours of sunlight would make riding palatable.

From the San Fernando Valley, it looked like there was no snow on Mount Lukens, but most of the route is on the backside where the shadows may keep the snow’s integrity.

Seeing how it was a cold, wintery morning there was a question if anyone would show, but it ended up being a mix of regulars and newbies.

Starting off of Angeles Crest Highway, the turnoff is at the first Fire Station about two miles up where the ride to the peak is seven miles.


Traces of snow at first


The first third of the ride is probably the steepest, but soon gives way to epic views to the north.

I was hoping for a light blanket of snow just like when I rode up to Camp 9 a month earlier, but I started seeing layers earlier than expected.

At 3,600 feet, I remember first checking the elevation even though it started below that.

It became a mixture of icy to soft to deep conditions making it more challenging as we went up.

There were reprieves where the sun poked through giving us hope we could reach the top, but at 4,300 feet we knew the only way to the top was by hiking.


Small price to pay for cycling in the snow


Returning back down, we soon hit the turnoff to Grizzly Peak which we knew could be just as challenging.

A number of trees collapsed over the road causing our fair share of dismounts, but it was a fun of enough ride that we accepted these drawbacks.

Riding in the snow was a lot of fun, but looking back at the video, we were going a lot slower than we had imagined.

The majority of us fell, by hey! It’s SNOW!

Cycling in the snow is a lot of fun, but while it has its limits, the rewards can outweigh them.