Northern California

Los Angeles County Motorcycle Rides

Southern California
Little Tujunga Canyon Rd

RIDE IT on a PASHNIT TOUR


22 miles - LENGTH
Very good, well-maintained highway- PAVEMENT
Sharp, tight, hairpins, long dropoffs- CURVES

Pacioma to Canyon Country - CONNECTS

 Either end - GAS

San Fernando to Canyon Country, CA

Quick Ride: Thrilling Mountain Pass ride - short, quick, super-fun!

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'.

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, 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 San Gabriel mountain range pushing up and over- there are actually two summits to climb, one after the other.

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 cruiser or sportbike, standard or trike. 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 at 22 miles up and over, but it's got the goods in a tight, compact package.

To ride this northbound from the 210 freeway, exit Foothill Blvd into the Lake View Terrace residential neighborhood, made internationally famous as the location of the Rodney King beating by Los Angeles police officers in 1991.

 

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 Street 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 of riding toward the range (see map below). Elevation here is about 1100 feet (at the 210 Freeway) and will climb to 2700 feet atop 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 trepidation, 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.

If you wanted, you could count the curves, and the Google Earth map below would come in handy for that. 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?

The road steadily climbs the mountain side through several hairpins, past the Kagel Truck Trail (which heads off west to join the paved Lopez Canyon Rd) while Mendenhall Mountain Way (FR 3N32) heads east towards 4640 ft Mendenhall Peak.

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

To the east is Pacioma Rd (jeep trail) which runs up near the 3700 ft summit of Pinnacle 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 motorcyclists. To the due south is one of the canyons that feeds the nearby Paciomo Reservoir.

By now if you stare into the photos, you've 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.

 

Steep drop-offs accompany this ride up and over the pass. And there's dirt. Lots of it. Or sand, take note at pullouts where vehicles are pulling back onto the highway and kicking up sand onto the road. There are ample Armco barriers on many corners, but not everywhere. Some road cuts carve right through the hillside which drops down to the very edge of the road. Sand can accumulate in these corners or rocks from adjacent hillsides may fall onto the road. Steady traffic can keep the road clean, but it's best to be at the ready.

 

There are no surprises in riding.

I wanted to make it last. I wanted to savor it. I wanted to stop at every viewpoint. I wanted to 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. I didn't want it to end. And ah, that view at every corner.

Little Tujunga is anything but little, it has a boldness to it, yet a compact nature 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.

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 more so the type of winter that Southern California is having. Most likely, the dry desert climate of this region will ensure this remains a rarity.

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.

This entire ride lies atop the San Gabriel Fault Line. Also note the Sand Canyon Fire in 2016 burned 37,000 acres, scouring both sides of the road over the summit.

 

With time, the green returns.

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 in between 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 options. 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.

 

 
 

Nearby Motorcycle Roads - Where to next?!!

Northbound: Beeline to Bouquet Canyon. Frivolity continues!

Southbound: Try Big Tujunga on over to Angeles Forest Hwy.

Eastbound: Soledad Canyon awaits. Angeles Crest Highway perhaps!

Westbound: Pico Canyon to Potrero Canyon- more riding beyond!!

Little Tujunga Canyon Rd, Los Angeles Co - Photo Gallery

MORE INFO: Little Tujunga Canyon Rd

RIDE on a PASHNIT TOUR
18 Miles - LENGTH

Main highway, smooth, well-maintained - PAVEMENT
Mountain climb, hairpins, tight, many - CURVES

San Fernando to Santa Clarita - CONNECTS

 Pacoima, San Fernando,Canyon Country - GAS

2700 ft- PEAK ELEVATION

None - LISTED SIDEROADS
 

Maps

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About Pashnit:

Tim Mayhew has devoted nearly 30 years to photographing and writing about California roads. His tireless efforts on the California Motorcycle Roads web site have spread across the globe becoming the encyclopedic guidebook for motorcycle travel in California. As of 2020, Tim has been designing & leading professional motorcycle tours across California, Oregon & Nevada for the last 17 years.
Learn more about riding with Tim on a  
Pashnit Motorcycle Tour in 2020.

 

Dear Pashnite, the 1999-era California Motorcycle Roads you have used for the last 20 years to plan your rides has been retired.
Two decades later, it's time to rebuild. A lot of work will go into building a site like this from scratch. It will take time. Thousands of hours, years actually. I think only a crazy person would attempt a project like this. Which is why there is no equal. The original CMR had 300 webpages of roads, 600 pages of text, thousands of photos, tens of thousands of links and was made up of 241,148 files. I would like to double that. It will take time to rebuild this site. I appreciate your support over the last 20 years. Hundreds more road pages are coming.  -Tim

 

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