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Charlton-Chilao-Hillyer-Vetter Loop

Average Rating:    (4.29 of 5)

No. of Reviews: 7

My favorite epic. Long loop at 5200-6200' elevation, with some of the best riding and scenery in the San Gabriel Mtns. Includes the Fun-Mt Hillyer-Chilao Ride listed elsewhere on this site. Mostly sweet twisty singletrack among the pines, with lots of technical sections. Outstanding views of most of the San Gabriel mtns and even Catalina on a clear day. Giant granite rock formations. Lots of climbing and descending, 3200'+ total elevation gain, 3-4 hours of saddle time. Bring food, extra water, sunscreen, camera. Smog (and heat) sometimes a problem in summer because of proximity to San Gabriel valley. Can be avoided by going in am. In winter, bring extra clothes. Gets occaisonal winter snow. Good on any bike from XC race hardtail to 35lb long travel freeride bike, as long as you can do all the climbing at altitutude. Because of all the trails in the area, I recommend a good trail topo map such as Tom Harrison's Trail Map of the Angeles Front Country (you will also might want his Map of the Angeles High Country for this ride), or a good book such as Robert Immler's Mountain Biking the San Gabriels, or Wilderness Press' Trails of the Angeles / 100 hikes in the San Gabriels. There are many others too. Also Arroyo Seco Ranger District, Flintridge, CA 818-790-1151. Park car in Charlton Flats campground and ride back the way you came to the entrance of Charlton at Angeles Crest Hwy (AC)-(bathrooms/turnout/gate). Cross AC and go just to your left, turning right onto the paved road to the RV dump station. Bear to the right and the road turns to dirt, climbing up into the pines to Mt Mooney at the top of the hill (about 1 mile). This road, and trails 1 & 2 (below) skirt the Western edge of the San Gabriel Wilderness. At the top, take the left fire road down (not the ridge trail up). (The right fork here, past the gate, goes to the old Stony Ridge Observatory site .25 miles away, with incredible views of the San Gabriel Wilderness below and to the East. Makes a nice detour.) The left fork (no gate) goes downhill on fire road / doubletrack about 2.5 miles. You will descend awhile, make two 180 degree switchbacks, one right, then next left, and then descend more. About .75 mile of descending beyound the second switchback (about 2.2 miles from the Mt Mooney crest), the road flattens out and makes a 90 degree left turn. On the right looks like a turnout or the start of a small road, which immediately turns to a faint trail (trail #1). If you miss it, the road also connects (more in a sec). Trail 1 climbs to your left up to the top of the low hill, meandering through the bushes and an old dump site. At the top (200'), it bears to the right and goes along the top of the hill for about 2-300 yards overlooking the San Gabriel Wilderness, then makes a hard left under some pine trees and heads downhill back to the dirt road, joining it and trail #2 from the right, where the dirt road makes a 130 degree left turn and joins AC. If you
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Latitude
34.19817309627726
Longitude
-118.037109375
Trail Directions
25 miles North of I-210 fwy on Angeles Crest Hwy 2 at Charlton Flats campground. You'll see a big paved turnout, bathrooms, phone, sign and an open gate on your left. You can park on the road, but past the gate down in the park is nicer, and both require the Adventure Pass. Park wherever you like in Charlton Flats - There are many shady picnic spots and lots of parking. The lower down you park, the less climbing you'll do at the end.
Trail Length
26 miles + options
Trail Level
Advanced
Trail Type
Singletrack & Fire Roads
City/County
La Canada
   


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Reviews 1 - 5 (7 Reviews Total) View All | Next 5

Review Date
October 22, 2006

Overall Rating
 4 of 5

Aerobic Difficulty
 3 of 5

Technical Difficulty
 3 of 5

Ridden Trail:
Once a month

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5.00 of 5, 1.00 votes

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Reviewed by: RockitJeff ,  Cross Country Rider

Summary:
Previous 2 reviews are Choad. I’ve ridden all over CA and the US- - - Mt. Hillyer offers mighty fine ridin…

I did the classic figure-8 loop today. Started up the dirt road which passes the Chilao Fire Station to the paved road that climbs up Hillyer to the single-track that summits Hillyer and drops down through the boulder-field. Once I hit Horse Flats campground, I take the pavement back to the main road and pedal right/ east towards 3 Points. Right before 3 Points, you can see the Silver Moccasin Trail on your right; it’s trailhead is just up ahead and obvious (though unmarked). This “variation” adds about 1 ½ miles of obscure Silver Moccasin Trail before it hooks up with the more commonly ridden Hillyer- Chilao portion. Full value fun.

Recommended Route:
see above

Other recommended trails in the same area:
Waterman, Islip, the Perfect Cyling Trail



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Review Date
December 8, 2005

Overall Rating
 3 of 5

Aerobic Difficulty
 3 of 5

Technical Difficulty
 3 of 5

Ridden Trail:
Ridden Once

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5.00 of 5, 1.00 votes

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Reviewed by: merlin1011 ,  Cross Country Rider

Summary:
I just did this loop with a friend of mine last week. I agree with the last post, you drive all that way, dump a half tank of gas (if you come from west L.A.), and you expect a never forget epic. Well, it starts you off on a fire road, then you do some concrete riding-fun, and up a ridge. After the two mile fire road ridge ride you eventually get to the horseshoe campground. If you havent researched where to pick up the trail, you will get lost. I used my compass and found that the trails for Mt. Hillyer and Silver Moccasin both started from the southeast section of the campground. I found it fast. We did the up and back to the big boulders, that was ok. We were thinking, where is the epic? it was just a typical nice day riding in the mountains. We go down silver moccasin, see some killer views, and pushed ourselves to do Vetters Mountain loop at the end, which was a rough climb in the wind, and a fun downhill singletrack back to Charlton Flats Parking lot.

I would recommend everyone to try this loop once, but if you miss it, it wont be the end of the world.

Recommended Route:
see singletrackmind description.



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Review Date
April 12, 2004

Overall Rating
 3 of 5

Aerobic Difficulty
 3 of 5

Technical Difficulty
 3 of 5

Ridden Trail:
Ridden Once

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5.00 of 5, 1.00 votes

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Reviewed by: tonysong ,  Cross Country Rider

Summary:
After reading the reviews on this site and doing a bit of research, I was pretty pumped up about riding this, but in the end it was a bit of a letdown. While there are some fun sections, the climbs are not challenging and the descents are hum-drum w/the exception of the Vetter singletrack descent and Silver Mocassin portions. The views are nice, but the area itself is very LA'ish in that it has a Lot of developement for a 'wilderness' area, and the Chilao and Charlton camping areas are more like parking lots. If RV'ing is your type of camping then this area is perfect. If you're more into the backcountry seclusion, you will be disappointed. To sum......a nice ride on the whole, but not one to necessarily go out of your way to do. If you're in the area, give it a go just to say you've done it. Otherwise, there are better rides to be done in Socal.



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Review Date
June 28, 2003

Overall Rating
 5 of 5

Ridden Trail:
Once a week

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Reviewed by: MTB Man , from LA, CA

Summary:
This trial is a bit tricky your first time and you are bound to get lost unless you have a map or guide. But, once you have riden it you can help but smile every time you think of it. The uphills are easy (gradual and the view is great), the DH is epic and everything is "makeable". No "hike a bike" sections if you are good enough. Excape the June gloom or the summer heat since it is over 5500'.



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Review Date
December 12, 2002

Overall Rating
 5 of 5

Ridden Trail:
Ridden Once

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5.00 of 5, 1.00 votes

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Reviewed by: trailbuilder , from massachussetts

Summary:
spent a bit of time with the map in my hands (alone), but it was really worth it with excellent views, great trails, though the route seems a bit contrived at times with all the junctions and small road connections. NOTE: Comming down the single track off Hillyer, it is easy to lose the trail, as so many others have, and end up in a huge boulder garden that dead ends in a rock strewn gully. Riding the boulder garden is a blast, probably should be a trail in its own right, just head left at the end through a sandy patch to the trail. Like Moab.

Recommended Route:
as above, take the rocky climb at the stone marker



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Reviews 1 - 5 (7 Reviews Total) View All | Next 5