Valley’s Hidden Rides: Lopez Canyon

Thanks for reading CiclaValley for my coverage of epic rides.

Lopez Canyon is not one of them, but if you want to sound learned in the valley vernacular, you’ll have this on your docket.



Other than Little Tujunga, the Sylmar area does not get a lot of love for its cycling, so must have probably never heard of Lopez Canyon.

Only a 2.5 mile climb, you might find it a little bit of a haul to go out there, but typically you’ll include the adjoining Kagel Canyon in some fashion.



The start of Lopez Canyon is auspicious.


Both of these climbs converge at a peak like a “V”, meaning you’re going to battle headwinds near the top regardless of your route.

Lopez Canyon starts off pretty tame keeping the climb at 4% for roughly the first half of the ride.



Hope Gardens is the only hint of forest along the way.


After passing some light industrial parcels, Sycamore Trees give you a hope for shade for the rest of the ride.

Off to your left is Hope Gardens, which is a nice shaded sanctuary for those living in transitional housing.



Quickly, things get stark.


As you leave these dormitories, the landscape becomes scarce and the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains become apparent.

At the 1.6 mile mark, the road pitches up around 7% and you feel the grind setting in.



Mile markers are a good distraction.


It’s a hard 7% as the headwinds and lack of nearby objects for perspective will make you doubt any speed readings on your Garmin.

At least there’s some fairly accurate mile markings to update you on the remaining pain you’ll inflict.



The little sign straight ahead is your goal.


Seeing where you’re going is deceptive too as a service road cut into the hill might get confused as the final turn.

After you maneuver past the final bend, you finally get a view of your climb’s terminus along with a double digit grade.



10 MPH or 10%?


At this point, you should almost be out off gears and the pain is real.

The climb is accentuated with a final hairpin turn for what looks like is an even steeper portion, but the change of direction makes the wind a great equalizer.



Somehow, your legs pick it up for the final stretch.


When you get to the top, you tend to hang there because cooling down in either direction will make you not want to reverse any descending.

Lopez Canyon is definitely a challenge that takes many attempts to properly gauge your skills against the terrain.

But if you’re a serious valley cyclist, you already know that.