Escaping Los Angeles

Mountain Biking the Santa Monicas

The Santa Monica Mountains have one of the most important jobs in California: they make Los Angeles liveable. Sure, the Pacific Ocean is nice, but the beaches, bike paths, and volleyball courts near the water can never provide the solace and quiet of these incredibly accessible mountains. Stretching 46 miles from Point Mugu in Ventura County to Griffith Park in the heart of the city, these mountains define the Los Angeles megalopolis geographically as well as culturally. They give the San Fernando Valley a separate attitude from the city, insulate the hippie-like community of Topanga, and isolate the wealthy enclaves of Malibu. But more importantly, they make for a year-round mountain biking paradise in a Mediterranean climate that only exists in five regions throughout the world.

The Santa Monicas, one of the few east-west mountain ranges in the United States, are dwarfed by their other east-west neighbors, the San Gabriels and the San Bernardinos. The tallest peak, Sandstone, is only 3,111 feet above sea level. Yet there's something special about mountain biking here. Maybe it's the wooded canyons, the rugged backcountry, the surprisingly prevalent wildlife, or the gorgeous streams heading inexorably toward the ocean. One thing's for sure—this area would be a destination for mountain bikers no matter where it existed. It's just kind of nice that it's within incredibly close range of the second-largest city in America.

In short, whether you're pedaling on a family tour through Paramount Ranch or hammering along the rugged Paseo Miramar/Topanga Loop, this is an endlessly amusing place to ride. It's no exaggeration: This truly is the Entertainment Capital of the World.

© Article copyright Menasha Ridge Press. All rights reserved.

Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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