Rolling Deep into the Angeles National Forest with the Swift Campout!

For the past 25 some-odd years, the Mount Wilson Bicycling Association has claimed Henninger Flats as the official, yet unofficial campground for cycling enthusiasts in Los Angeles. In that time, various events have brought men and women to its cliff’s edge overlook of the city to share stories and bond. The great outdoors are like that.

So when Swift Industries announced the Swift Summer Solstice Campout again this year, Golden Saddle Cyclery, along with Ray and some MWBA OGs proposed Henninger be the destination. It’d be a perfect way to introduce bicycle campers, bicycle tourers and bike packers to this age-old tradition. Think about it this way: for as long as mountain biking has been a thing, people have been bicycle camping up here!

Our plan was pretty simple: meet at Golden Saddle at 2pm for a 3pm rollout. It’d be self-supported and would take roughly 3.5 hours to roll up the 20 mile, 2,700′ ride to camp, with the last 3 miles being steep, loose dirt. San Gabriel style.

What a good group!

As 3 oclock rolled around, we were all amazed at the size of our group! Here’s everyone that left from GSC, minus three people who were fixing a flat. This group would be met by 10 more people who got to camp early to lay stake to our site.

To those mountains we roll

Saturday morning traffic, on the first weekend of summer was a non-issue. Not one car honked in frustration. Instead we were greeted with smiles, waves and shouts of encouragement from our fellow Angelenos. Perhaps we inspired others to ride a bicycle in LA that day?

Drew!

After a pit-stop to fill up on food and water, we hit the dirt which was so steep that many people had to walk sections. Here’s Drew, a “clydesdale” pushing through with all his might up the steepest part of the trail, after I yelled down some words of encouragement.

If Argento went camping.

As the sun set, the group bonded over the fire box, bottles of wine, whiskey and beer. I shot beer cans with my slingshot, others shot the shit before hitting their tents, sleeping pads and hammocks around 3am. Yikes! We’d awake a bit hungover, groggy and ready to consume the breakfast foods David and Nils brought along to share.

Skreeeeeee

The ride home provided almost 20 miles of descending back to Golden Saddle through glorious traffic-free, early Sunday morning streets. The stoke was high, our feet were dirty and steeds sated. It was a great way to ring in Summer!

Many thanks to Swift for putting on this event and for everyone who came out to this weekend’s event. It was great meeting you all! If you’ve got stories or photos of your own, make sure you share them in the comments!

If you’d like to bicycle camp at Henninger, here’s our super chill route to the campsite, as well as the ride home:

From Golden Saddle to Henninger
From Henninger to Golden Saddle

  • Ray Juncal

    Nice piece.

  • BoostahMante

    Bummed i missed it :/

  • Kyle Deven

    Nils, you’re a beast towing all that shit up there… always with a huge smile on your face. Couldn’t have asked for a better group of people to ride and camp with. Everyone took care of each other, and Jaymie took care of that flask.

  • Ben Van Dyke

    This was a killer trip. Thanks for the photos, looking forward to the next one!

  • Area45

    This looked like so much fun! LA is pretty damn rad.

    • Kyle Deven

      Let’s plan something soon!

    • Missed you, buddy!

  • Chris Hoy

    I’m going to be in LA for a few days in August, staying in Sherman Oaks. Any Radavist readers have suggestions for some good, scenic routes to check out for a road ride around there? Also, any good places to rent a bike for a day?

  • Drew Mabry

    this was so much fun!

  • Joseph Martin

    Hi John! Great photos! I’ve always enjoyed your ride & bike photos. If you don’t mind, can you share what photo gear you’re using?

    • This is a Leica M240 and these Leica lenses: 21mm, 35mm, 90mm.

      • Joseph Martin

        Wow! Nice! I’m an avid cyclist & photography enthusiast. I hope to learn to become a better photog from following your posts as i have difficulty doing both (riding & photography) at the same time. Keep it up & ride safe always.

      • I’m a little late to the party thanks to being internet-less at my new place but have you thought about doing a piece on your kit/tips for shooting while riding? I’d really appreciate something like that and I’m sure others would too!

  • R R

    I’m moving from NorCal or Arizona in mid-late August. I think I will end up stopping in the Pasadena area for a day or two without my wife and kid. I’m trying to find local knowledge on camping in that area. My plan is to car camp and bring my cx bike to try and find a cool day ride or two up in the mountains. My only real concern is whether it’s going to be too hot to comfortably sleep in a tent in late August. If so, I can find a cheap room and ride from there. Any info on camping in the Angeles NF or day rides in that area would be greatly appreciated. This post was timed perfectly. Thanks!

  • Landlocked Music T spotting… B-Town Represent!

  • Jonathan Zajdman

    I’m moving back to LA in August, definitely going to make this route my first ride in town.

  • Zian

    Late post, but holy shit that dude Johnnie rode on a track bike? insane

    • Late reply, but yeah, he mostly walked up but rode the whole thing down. Crayyyyyyy!