LA Dirt Rides: the Verdugo Mountains Traverse

The Verdugos are a staple of my weekly riding routine. With access points from every cardinal direction, your route up is often times determined by how much spunk you’ve got in your legs. There’s something for everyone including mountain bikers, dirt jumpers, roadies, dirt road riders, and a ragtag group of ex and current skaters, as evident in today’s story.

Every Friday morning, the guys at Golden Saddle organize a TGSCIF ride, leaving from Intelligentsia on Sunset Avenue and pedaling from Silver Lake to any number of road, dirt, and singletrack rides. Oftentimes, these 2-3 hour group rides venture into the surrounding hills, never really leaving the neighborhood, yet sometimes I rally to do a ride in the Verdugo Mountains. It just so happens that this week, we got to bring a lot of people up to this magical place for the first time.

Eric Koston has been coming on these rides for the past few weeks, encouraged by his friends, a group of skaters who have picked up cycling as a new hobby and have spent the past few months exploring Griffith and Elysian Park on Crust Bikes, Rivendells, and All-Citys. This week, Eric brought his Santa Cruz Stigmata on our ride, and as we were pedaling through Glendale, he asked “is that where we’re going?” as he pointed to the mountains ahead, covered in clouds. We all exclaimed, YEP!

The thing about this ride is there’s a whole hell of a lot of elevation gained, in a very short time, all on dirt. Once you navigate through the mansions and their green grass yards -Glendale doesn’t fall under the City of Los Angeles’ water restrictions, which are already very lax compared to the issue of us being in a severe drought – you’re on a dirt fire road, rising out of the sprawl like a majestic hawk in search of prey. Only we don’t want rabbits or squirrels, we just want to get as high as we can above the city, only to bomb back down like mad Kamakazees. Ok, maybe we take it chill down the roads due to the popularity of these tracks and trails with hikers and trail runners, but still.

Going up Beaudry North has been the long agreed “easiest” route up the Verdugos, accessed from Country Club road off Verdugo Blvd. This meandering road takes up to the base of Mt Thom, where you then begin the long and tough traverse across this high desert mountain range. Once you hit the radio communications towers, in the middle of the burn zone, be on the lookout for hidden singletrack ribbons on your left and get ready to white-knuckle down some of these descents as their rutted and loose conditions will make even someone on a mountain bike double check their lines.

Our preferred exit line down takes us to the Stough Nature Center, where in Summer months, offers a refill on water, at a spigot or bathroom sink. From there, it’s an easy downhill pedal to Griffith Park where you can take on more climbing, or just pedal leisurely through the perimeter roads.

If you’d like to take on this ride, be mindful of the weather. It gets hot up there and with little to no shade and no water at the top, it can drain you within minutes. During hotter months, I prefer this as a sunset ride, due to the animal life that can be spotted, from rattlesnakes to bobcats, and weasels. Our route this day served up 30 miles and 3,500′ of climbing. If you’re ever in town for a TGSCIF ride, check out their Instagram on Thursday afternoon for our intended destination. See my ride data and routing at Strava and don’t miss Tacos Delta’s delicious breakfast burritos!