Cyclists Paradise Lost: Sand Fire Photo Gallery

There are no apologies for the number of times I’ve spoken to Little Tujunga Canyon being one of my favorite places to ride.

Now, I feel regretful for talking about the loss from the Sand Fire.

I knew this fire would take away the innocence of the area’s solitude I loved so much, but other people lost a lot more.

When the Tour of California rolled through the heart of “Little T”, I was so giddy for the valley being in the spotlight. I only wished the race turned up at Bear Divide to finish at the fire base known as Camp 9, but that’s me being picky.

With the fire extinguished for about a week, I was conflicted about visiting the area, but I decided to go because I knew it would be cathartic.

My plan was to head up May Canyon from Sylmar, connect with the the Santa Clara Truck Trail through Camp 9 taking me back via Little Tujunga Canyon.

I had heard conflicting reports about which roads were open, but at worst I would see as much as a could if I had to turn back:


Climbing up the five mile stretch of May Canyon was very benign. There were some blackened plants, but I could tell if that was from the drought since there was no sign of any charred earth around.



As I got about halfway up this climb, hints of fire retardant reddened the top of many peaks.



Getting to the top, the red powder prevailed.



Connecting to the Santa Clara Truck Trail, the fire showed up just at my feet while the smell was just that of burnt wood.



Then I was blanketed with complete areas of burn which some of you may remember from this earlier video looked like this.



Then looking towards Santa Clarita, I had trouble grasping how this entire area north of Placerita Canyon was completely torched.




Looking back from where I just merged onto the Santa Clara Truck Trail, you could see how waves of flames cut into the hillside.



You can see that the fire was just feet away from where the helicopter lands at Camp 9.


Making the turn away from the valley was when I got my first look at how extensive the damage truly was looking towards Kagel Divide.



Looking east towards at Little Tujunga was a very strange deja vu experience. It was like I recognized this area, but didn’t.



You could see the fire station at Bear Divide was completely surrounded by flames.



This is the view from Bear Divide looking down Sand Canyon(Little Tujunga changes names on the Santa Clarita side). Just shocking to see the devastation.




Since there weren’t any closure signs coming up May Canyon, I didn’t know the road I was coming down was closed. No wonder the firemen at Camp 9 looked at me weird.



I planned on continuing a little on the other side of Little Tujunga up the Santa Clara Truck Trail, but I respected from the sign being burnt to stay away.




From another angle, I noticed a couple of structures from Bear Divide did not make it.



Starting down the descent from Bear Divide, you could see a scorched road on top of a complete landscape.



This house along Little Tujunga seemed to survive, but not the garage. The home for sale across the street with a for sale sign was completely destroyed.



Here’s a look back up Little Tujunga from 2011 on Google Street View….


… and now.




Ant Canyon is the valley nestled within the two peaks of Little Tujunga Canyon. There are a few structures along this area and a scattering of mobile homes as well. About half of the built environment survived.



Now looking up to the southern peak of Little Tujunga.



Almost to the top, but the convenient milage markers are now charred.



I’m including a number of before and after photos from this year’s Tour of California. The race happened just three months ago, but such a dichotomy of landscape…


…and now nothing.




Looking southward from the peak. Fortunately, the fire didn’t extend far past the curve.



Here’s a number of cycling fans watching the peloton pass at this year’s Stage Two of the Tour of California…


…and now.



These are the race leaders about a mile from the top….


…and now.



Very easy to place where this was…


…and now.



So this explains why I saw no one on my trip. These road closed signs were right past the Wildlife Waystation.

As I reached the bottom of Little T, three Highway Patrol cars came rolling by, probably patrolling the area the keep others out.

I don’t know how much time it will take to regain any part of what we lost.

The view of the devastation will be shocking to anyone, even those unfamiliar with the area.

I know I’ll be back to ride again at some point. Little T is a special place to be. Always.