Classic Roads: California’s Angeles Crest Highway

Text: Brian Shaney • Photography: Brian Shaney

Traveling just north of the hustle and bustle of Los Angeles and Pasadena, you’ll enter the Angeles National Forest, a sparsely developed area that’s home to one particularly fantastic ribbon of tarmac—The Angeles Crest Highway (aka California State Route 2). Completed in 1956, this two-lane marvel climbs, dives, and weaves into the San Gabriel Mountains and affords some amazing views and scenery.

Starting in Flintridge (north of Pasadena), pick up CA-2 and head north. The road immediately begins a long, gradual ascent into the national forest. A series of unending curves, sweepers, and switchbacks will keep you smiling and focused. Pullouts and overlooks are abundant, as are side-road avenues for more exploration. The road runs some 66 miles and climbs to its summit of 7,907 feet at Dawson’s Saddle, not far from its eastern terminus at CA-138. Its nearly all uphill traveling west to east. 

Twenty-seven miles from the start of the route you’ll come to Newcomb’s Ranch, a long-standing haven for motorcyclists and car enthusiasts. It’s a great place to stretch your legs and have a meal, and you’re certain to meet up with fellow riders.

The route does see its share of traffic during holidays and weekends, but on weekdays it’s not uncommon to have the road to yourself. While the highway is typically open from Memorial Day to mid-October, be sure to check road conditions for any unexpected closures before heading out. 


Points of Interest

  1. Upper Big Tujunga Canyon Road
    This winding “side trip” leads you deeper into the Angeles National Forest and past the Big Tujunga Dam Overlook. The road connects with CA-2 approximately 18 miles from Flintridge. 
  2. Switzer Falls
    Switzer Falls is one of the most popular waterfall hikes in Southern California. It’s easily accessible from the Switzer’s Picnic Area, about 10 miles from Flintridge on CA-2. 
  3. Mount Wilson Observatory
    Located in the Angeles National Forest, the observatory is open to visitors and tour groups curious about stars (not the ones in Hollywood).
  4. Newcomb’s Ranch
    This popular hangout is located east of Flintridge (at CA-2 Mile Marker LA 50.93) and serves up breakfast, lunch and dinner Thursday to Sunday. For more information:

  5. Cooper Canyon Falls
    East of Newcomb’s Ranch and on the Burkhart Trail, it’s a short and enjoyable hike to the falls. Access the trailhead from the Buckhorn Campground.