A while back I got a spiffy digital still camera and since the scenery up in the mountains
above Hollywood where I ride my bike is so cool I decided to take it up there and record
what I could see. I try to get up there at least three times a week if not more often
and there's always something new to see. The city, the birds, trees, low-flying jets,
you name it, it's up there. The images coming out of the camera are all
much bigger than any of you are likely to want to sit through downloading, so these are
all reduced versions of the originals (in some cases I also enhanced some of them by
removing cars, power lines, and other impediments to clear viewing too, isn't PhotoShop
The route over the mountain is actually a little tricky. Everyone knows that the freeways go over there, and most savvy LA drivers know about Laurel Canyon too, but they are dirty, difficult, and dangerous ways to cross over on a mountain bike. Nichols Canyon, Bennedict Canyon, Coldwater Canyon and Willow Glenn are all nicer ways to ride to the top and beyond. It's also nice to know all the ins and outs for driving up there too in case of serious traffic jams. At the end of Mulholland Drive (to the west) there are some nice rocky trails too. Watch out for those gulleys on the downhills though or you'll need a new "seat" if you know what I mean. Anyway, I'll probably post a nice map here eventually, indicating the best places to ride, the best scenery, and how to get through the maze of twisty little passages all alike that are the Hollywood Hills. The whole round trip from Hollywood to the ocean at is about 70 miles.
If you are interested in getting some tips or even in
giving some and you can't wait for the map to come out,
drop me a line and tell me what you think. My first bit of map-making is an altitude profile that
I love taking pictures up in the mountains! Here are a few of the sights from far above Los Angeles...
Hollywood, where I start my treks isn't really all that far from downtown, which is obvious when you get a little altitude advantage. Here's a nice view of downtown from the top of Woodrow Wilson drive...that's WAY on top...even above Mulholland Drive. Near the trees at the bottom of the frame you can see the famous Capital Records building and the other big buildings in downtown Hollywood. The 101 freeway is visible on the left.
Being a flatlander myself, it has always amazed me that here in the mountains just a few miles from the skyscrapers and superhighways there are quiet forested valleys where the only sound that can be heard is birds, frogs, and crickets. From this particular peak (when it is clear) it is possible to see all the way from downtown Los Angeles (and way way beyond), to the ocean (and even Catalina Island), to the far end of the San Fernando Valley, and the frosty mountaintops beyond the San Gabriel Valley. It's about the only place I have found where you can actually see all (well, almost all) of LA. This is how downtown looks on a more typical day however.
Above Hollywood and over toward Beverly Hills there's a mountain ridge on the West side of Nichols Canyon with a housing development called "Mount Olympus". The streets are steep, the architecture is greek marble (visible opn the left), and the streets are all called "Hercules", "Achilles", "Hermes" and so on. It's a heavenly place to ride, especially if you want a hard shortcut to the peaks and Mulholland Drive.
See how steep the drop-off is from Mount Olympus? Kinda scary isn't it? Those are Hollywood skyscrapers on Sunset Boulevard down there just a short distance away. It's a fast ride down a slow one coming up.
Of course the gods of Olympus can see downtown LA too...pretty clearly too when those mansions are not in the way.
Century plants look really cool and they grow all over the peaks and cliffs around Los Angeles. They fact that they always grow up high above everything else means that they nicely frame some beautiful vistas. See? This is the view of the central San Fernando Valley from Mulholland Drive.
Another Century Plant, from western Mulholland.
Yet another century plant in a remote area.
Universal City with the Texaco building right in front. This is one of the first good look-outs on the San Fernando Valley over the top from Nichols Canyon. There's a fancy helipad on the top of the Texaco building I can look down on from up here, but there are never any choppers up there. Wonder why?
Universal City again. Sometimes you can see parts of the outdoor Universal Studios shows (you know....big plumes of flame leaping over the buildings and so on) and hear them too. Hey, who needs tickets?
Who says all of LA is paved? Here's a misty morning over the central San Fernando valley. Kinda peaceful isn't it?
Another look across the valley. Who's afraid of smog? Not me!
There are miles and miles of peaks up here. That makes it easy to mark progress along the way. See that radio tower up ahead in the sunshine?
Here is what the tower looks like when you make it the the base.
At the high point of the mountain range is an abandoned Nike missile base which was one of 16 such sites around the Los Angeles area built during the cold war to shoot down incoming Soviet bombers. Now the base has been converted into a convenient rest stop for bikers and hikers. There are water, shade, bathrooms, coin-op telescopes, and friendly folks resting up there. It's all downhill from here!
It's impossible to miss the entrance to the base. It has a nice big "Restricted Entry" sign at the trail and a little guardhouse. Other side trails aren't as clearly marked. The base is at the intersection of the Mandeville Canyon trail and the dirt part of Mullholland Drive.
A bit west of the Nike base (perhaps a quarter mile) is the top of Sullivan Canyon. From here you can see all the way down to the top of the AT&T building at Wilshire and the Beach (that little white speck there). It's s great way down from the top.
The long 70-mile circuit takes a long time to traverse, so it isn't at all uncommon (unless I get started plenty early) that I get to see some nice sunsets over the San Fernando Valley. All that dust, fog, and other debris means it's almost always colorful up there.
All the way out at the end of Topanga Canyon or Malibu Canyon the westward trek has to come to an end unless the Pacific has frozen over. It's often quite lovely at sunset...especially with all the "Baywatch" babes in their little towers on the beach.
On those long rides it even gets darker yet! Think about it though, if God didn't mean for us to ride at night why would he have given us reflective vests, lights, and extra batteries?
Given my heavy work schedule, I actually do a fair number of my rides late at night. Sometimes REALLY late (3:00am even). The city lights look like a twinkling galaxy out there, but unfortunately, these "smart" cameras are a bit dumb at night and insist on using the flash to light up whatever is in the foreground. Anyway, those meager lights out there are the towers of Universal City, particularly the red lights of the Texaco building.
It's the end of the trail partner. I hope you enjoyed the ride. Say cheese!
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