Southern California Mountain Rides
Angeles National Forest, California

Little Tujunga Canyon Rd
Los Angeles County Foothills

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If God had a motorcycle, this is where he'd be.

He'd be riding (insert your bike here) back and forth, up and down the mountain, absorbing the view, basking in the marvel of his creation. He'd be looking down on his sculpted and molded mountainous land of divine intervention, a blessing of a greater power. He'd revel in the notion of modern man having carved this wonder of motorcycle goodness into his mountain. This is the 'Little T'.

The scene north at the Kagel Truck Trail

So in turn, you might think of Little Tujunga Canyon Rd (so named on the southern end) as a place of exhilaration, a place to lose yourself, a place to leave it all behind. A place to feel nothing but the motorcycle beneath you as it dives and arcs into the next bend, the next curve in the road. As you make your way up Little Tujunga to the mountainous peak, there are times when you'll be overwhelmed with an intense emotion of wonder, of the marvel of it all.

Why this road even exists, I'm not sure. It was built in the 1930's by the Civilian Conservation Corps who created many of the roads that you and I ride upon. Carved into the mountain range pushing up and over- there are actually two summits to climb, one after the other.

Twisty and Turny on Little Tujunga Rd

A-Frame Bridge on the Little T - there are two of these bridges

Motorcycles abound on weekends, all here for the same reason, all enjoying the intense view, the endless curves, the sheer majesty of it all. While the route will be non-stop twisties, any bike will do on Little Tujunga, whether it be Harley or sportbike, standard or trike even. As for the Divine One, not sure what type of bike he'd be on, but definitely, you will find him riding here.

Little Tujunga is not long, in fact it's quite short by CA Moto Roads standards, but it's got it all in a very tight and compact package.

To ride this northbound, exit Foothill Blvd, turn north onto Osborne Street. There's no indication at this point that you're on the right road, or any clue of what lies ahead. Yet ride less than a mile through the residential neighborhood and Osborne St morphs into Little Tujunga Canyon Rd, better known as 'Little T' to the locals.

Within seconds you've left the city behind and Little Tujunga introduces itself with a sign- Curves 18 Miles. Then a few gentle weaves offer up the hors d'oeuvres for the first 5 miles riding toward the range (see 3-D Map below). Elevation here is about 1100 feet (at the 210 Feeway) and will climb to about 2700 feet at the summits.

The 2900 ft Limerock Peak borders the western edge of Little Tujunga Canyon Rd and the deeper you go, the more the range begins to loom in front of you (pic at right). I get to go up that? It's a thought that begins to build, a sense of trepedation, a dash of excitement. The five miles of appetizers draw to a close when Little Tujunga throws out a 180 degree hairpin and the main course begins.

Suppose if you wanted, you could count the curves, and actually Google Earth (see satellite image below) would come in handy for that right about now. But then again, who has the time, instead I'm rapidly gaining in elevation and enjoying this fantastic pavement as one curve launches into the next. Did I mention the view. Imagine the view in the pic at right.

The first view of Little T as it climbs over the range

The road steadily climbs the mountain side through several hairpins, past the Kagel Truck Trail (which heads off west) while Mendenhall Mountain Way (gravel) heads off the opposite way to the east towards Mt Gleason.

Little Tujunga Canyon Rd climbs, then climbs some more- about 1000 feet in a few short miles. The view is stupendous and on a day without the haze, the view extends for some distance across Southern California mountaintops with surprisingly few homes, signs of people, or paved roads for that matter. Yet there are plenty of motorcyclists. You won't be alone as this road is no secret to the locals.

Little Tujunga Rd

Harley Club on Little Tujunga Rd

To the east is the Pacioma Rd (jeep trail) which runs up near the 3700 ft summit of Pinnicle Peak and then drops down into the canyon eventually intersecting the Pacific Crest Trail which parallels this ride. At the summit, there's a small parking area on the west side of the road. Here, the Santa Clara Truck Trail makes west and the view to the north is absolutely divine. Well worth stopping to kick some tires with the other local motorcylists. To the due south is one of the canyons that feeds the nearby Pacoimo Reservoir.

By now if you stare into the photos, you've pretty much gotten the idea. Endlessly twisty mountainous road with outstanding pavement and the northern half away from the summit is simply more of the same. Vast views that allow you to see the next set of curves and through it all a sense that you've manage to escape the Los Angeles metropolis. At least for a few moments.

Awesome view, awesome curves

I wanted to make it last. I wanted to savor it. I didn't want it to end. I wanted to stop at every viewpoint. Take a hundred photographs. Wave to every passing motorcyclist. Feel every sensation of the bike flowing around one corner after the next. Left then right, hairpin, then back right again. And ah, that view at every point.

Little Tujunga is anything but little, it has a majesty to it, yet a compactness that enables you to spend an hour, or mere moments riding this road. I'll choose slow for today. No need to rush in a place where mountain peaks push into the sky above.

Maybe you've come out here for a leisure ride, a ride for the view, a ride for the curves, or maybe you'd like to see where the Divine One can be found.. Because after riding this, I'm sure you'll agree, if God had a motorcycle, this is where he'd be.

Curves, curves, curves

Buyer Beware

Yes, what you see at right is a water crossing on Little Tujunga Rd. Of course, whether you encounter this on the northern end will depend on the time of year you ride it, but moreso the type of winter that Southern California is having. Most likely, the dry desert climate of this region will ensure this remains a rarity.

However, if you do come up on one of these water crossings, the trick is to reduce speed to a slow and steady pace. Look across the water, not at the water, and provide a steady throttle and no input to the steering or torque to the rear wheel. You won't know whether it's slippery or not, or how long the water has been flowing across the road. Ease the bike through the water and you'll glide right across.

Oh, and this entire ride lies atop the San Gabriel Fault Line. Just thought you might like to know that.

Water crossing on the northern end of Little T
Riders on Little Tujunga Rd

Pashnit Maps of
Little Tujunga Canyon Rd
Street Map - 3-D Imaging - 3-D Satellite - USGS (1.7M)
West Coast Map of USA

Getting There:

To find the 'Little T' (south end) on your escape from Los Angeles, you'll have to get yourself to Sylmar on the 210 Freeway inbetween San Fernando & Sunland. Exit northward on Foothill Blvd with Hansen Dam Park to the south. Ride onto Foothill Blvd which acts as a frontage road along the freeway and then a turn north onto Osborne St (residential) which turns into Little Tujunga Canyon Rd a short distance away.

If you are riding this southbound, there are two ways. From the 14 Freeway, exit either Sand Canyon Rd (residential) or Placerita Canyon Rd (uneventful). Westbound riders on the 14 Freeway will exit onto Soledad Canyon Rd, left, then left onto Sand Canyon.

Map of Little Tujunga Rd

Overview City Map of Little Tujunga city regions

3-D Imaging of Little Tujunga Canyon Rd
3-D Topo Map
Northern View - Large Format
3-D Topo Map
Overhead View - Large Format
3-D Topographical Map
Northwest View - Large Format
3-D Topographic Map
Easterly View - Large Format

Pashnit Interactive Map
Click Map to explore more California Motorcycle Roads! - Full Screen

3-D Satellite Mapping of Little Tujunga Canyon Rd

Riding on the Little T

Nearby Motorcycle Roads

Northbound: Beeline to Bouquet Canyon. Frivolity continues!
Southbound: Try Big Tujunga on over to Angeles Forest Hwy.
Eastbound: Soledad Canyon awaits. Angeles Crest perhaps!
Westbound: Pico Canyon to Potrero Canyon- more riding beyond!!

More Info & Ride Video

LA Trails.com - trails near Little Tujunga

More Photography taken of Little Tujunga Rd - discussion

Wildlife Way Station - nonprofit animal sanctuary

WATCH VIDEO of Riding on Little Tujunga Rd

 

 


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