Hyping Mount Lowe Railway doesn’t need any build up.
The historical value alone of this 19th century attraction is reason enough to bike, hike, parachute or whatever means necessary to visit.
Throw in the beauty of the San Gabriel Mountains and you’ve got one helluva gravel ride.
It amazes me how little people know about this landmark even though these exotic structures and railways was one of the first places to put Los Angeles on the map.
After the construction of the resort on Echo Mountain in 1893, Thaddeus Lowe wanted to extend lodging deeper into the mountains getting started on the Mount Lowe Railway a year later.
Fires devastated the area wiping out both destinations, but the rail line now gives way to a service road which is perfect for gravel.
A typical loop for riding starts out near the Chaney Trail where you can also tack on Brown Mountain if you’re looking to add miles.
The climb is 9.25 miles to reach Mount Wilson Red Box Road, but it’s quite a haul up there with extensive portions graded at 11%.
Along the way are many historical markers where you can match your view with postcards of the railway from over one hundred years ago.
You’re also going to see cooler temperatures as you cut into the backside of the mountain with a lot more shade to deal with.
It’s a welcome transformation as soaring trees take precedent puts you into the full forest experience.
Soon, you’ll be reaching the terminus of the Mount Lowe Railway at the former site of Alpine Tavern.
If you look closely around the camp, you can envision what this rustic resort once looked like while finding relics around.
Continuing up Mount Lowe Road, take the three minute detour to Inspiration Point to take in this refurbished platform that points out many of the oldest historic locations below.
Returning back to the route, the road gets a bit rockier which may be dubious if you choose to return this way.
As you reach the peak of this climb, you have a loose decent to one of the most picturesque portions of the ride.
The Mueller Tunnel is a welcome standout with the light contrasting with all the rock cutout of the mountain.
Soon thereafter, you get a great view back to Mount Lowe which in the early half of the day gets a good amount of heavenly cloud cover.
When you’re talking about essential expeditions that showcases what adventures gravel bikes are meant for, there’s very few that can embody it like Mount Lowe.