The San Gabriel Mountains have an amazing trail network with loads of history. While I’ve only started to explore the potential of this area, once you leave the popular, well maintained trails things get pretty difficult. In it’s prime the San Gabriels sounded like an amazing place to be a mountain biker, however the huge trail network ultimately requires lots of maintenance, most of which is done by volunteers.
The Station Fire roared through the San Gabriel Mountains in late August, 2009 and I had just moved into a new house on the edge of the Angels National Forest. We stared in awe in our backyard at the fire rolling down the hills. The aftermath was a barren landscape that resembled the moon, without color or life. The fire and subsequent winter rainfall ruined years of trail work in the area. People spoke in hushed tones of their favorite trails, as if a best friend had died.
One of these trails was the Ken Burton tail. Perhaps never loved as it’s siblings El Preito or Sunset, it was still part of the intricate web that made up the endless miles of trails. Along with some friends I climbed to the summit of Brown Mountain and dropped into the Ken Burton Trail, only to find it overgrown and beyond disrepair. We hiked and hacked our way down for three miles of overgrown brush. Working our way down to the Secco Arryo we continued to hike our bikes along the riverbed. After what seemed like endless hours of hiking our bikes, wrong turns, and being ripped to shreds by yucca plants we managed to clear the debris damn and finally ride our bikes. The Gabrielino Trail back to our cars was fantastic, fast and a little loose, one of my favorite trails in the area.
A good bike ride? No. A good adventure? Oh yes.