mount disappointment gravel title

Mount Disappointment Gravel Guide(4K)

Even with the shock value of a name like Mount Disappointment you’d figure it’d be well known, but there’s a lot of context behind a full answer.

The Angeles National Forest sits on the northern edge of the Los Angeles Basin and looking from afar there are many peaks to choose from.

For most Angelenos, Mount Wilson sits as the most prominent not for it’s exceptional height in the area, but for its communication towers that can be seen across a good part of the county.

If you’re looking for history, Mount Lowe also rivals as the first main attraction to the region in the 19th century with first its funicular followed by a second rail line up to Alpine Tavern I covered in a previous gravel guide.

Now, you won’t be disappointment if you’re looking for vert as right off the bat you gaining over two thousand feet in the first four miles that’s thankfully paved.

The dirt not only signals a reprieve, but also your crossover with history joining the former rail alignment with a train friendly grade and a number placards displaying photos taken from those vantage points over one hundred years ago.

Alpine Tavern is a side diversion that’s worth taking, as well as the quarter mile detour to the reconstructed Inspiration Point before the dirt gets more spicy.

The final three miles of Mount Lowe dirt in punctuated not just the climbing that ramps up a little bit, but the conditions that degrade to the point where you wonder how much longer Mueller Tunnel will be passable.

Exiting west onto Mt Wilson Red Box Rd gives a mile of quick descending where you can grab water a quarter mile past the Mount Disappointment turnoff.

Backtracking you start this 5km climb beginning with a deceptive 10% pitch that you first notice by a lack of progress.

The ascent steadies out and while paved, there are a number of cracks and loose sediment that you’ll contend with more on the descent.

Conquering the final pitch that hits in the high teens at least has a worthy reward as Mt Disappointment’s sharp peak affords an incredible panorama across the LA basin.

Returning and passing by Mt Lowe Rd, the loop continues east down Mt Wilson Toll Road where stopping right past by the observatory also brings the opportunity for lunch at the Cosmic Cafe.

The eight and a half mile dirt descent is bookended by a lot of momentum possibilities, but your pace will be measured by how much the road is washed out right after the one mile mark.

Henninger Flats is the last slow down as the following two and a half miles are thankfully tempered by the number of hikers otherwise you may overshoot a turn or two.

While this loop is only thirty six miles, the experience is far more robust than the numbers and never a disappointment.