City Escape: Santa Clarita, California

Text: Ken Freund • Photography: Michelle Baird

Santa Clarita lies just north of Los Angeles along the West Coast’s main north-south corridor, Interstate 5, so it’s easy to get to from many surrounding areas. Just north of town is Six Flags Magic Mountain amusement park, with fantastic roller coasters, and Castaic Lake, which offers aquatic fun. These could be visited before or after riding this loop to make it an entertaining long weekend!

Length

Approximately 73 miles, alternate route 65 miles

Meet-up Spot

McDonald’s (at Walmart), 25450 The Old Road, Santa Clarita, CA, (661) 259-6369.

Lunch Stop

Rock Inn, 17539 Lake Elizabeth Rd, Lake Hughes, CA, (661) 724-1855. This is nestled in a historic stone building and is a popular hangout for motorcyclists with good food, friendly servers, and live music on most evenings.

Scenery (4 out of 5)

Scenery changes from desert terrain to mountainous and wooded sections with quaint towns interspersed among open lands.

Traffic (3 out of 5)

Once off of I-5, traffic is generally light, especially on weekends.

Difficulty (3 out of 5)

The route carves through parts of the Angeles National Forest with some elevation changes. Roads have enough turns to make them interesting without being technically challenging.

Road Conditions (3 out of 5)

Pavement is generally in good repair. During the day, this area enjoys mild to warm weather most months, with just a few chilly winter exceptions, making almost year-round riding possible.

Points of Interest

  1. The Historic Rock Inn
The Rock Inn was built in the late 1920s and was later transformed into a unique oasis for weary travelers. It was made out of steel, concrete, and stone after a fire destroyed the first attempt. Over the years it served as an inn, store, post office, and gas station; www.historicrockinn.com.
  2. Castaic Lake
Castaic Lake is a reservoir in the Sierra Pelona Mountains of northwestern Los Angeles County. The route follows the lake for some distance. Boating and fishing are popular here, although the drought has reduced water levels recently; www.castaiclake.com.
  3. Six Flags Magic Mountain
This is a 262-acre theme park known for its extreme roller coaster rides. Located just north of Santa Clarita at 26101 Magic Mountain Pkwy, Valencia, CA; (661) 255-4100; www.sixflags.com/magicmountain.
  4. St. Francis Dam
The St. Francis Dam held a reservoir for Los Angeles located in San Francisquito Canyon about 10 miles north of Santa Clarita. The dam was finished in 1926 under direction of William Mulholland. Just before midnight on March 12, 1928, the dam broke and a flood killed nearly all of the residents, who were asleep and mistook the shaking and rumbling for an earthquake. The ruins are along San Francisquito Canyon Road.