The Chantry Flats / Mt. Zion / Gabrielino trail loop is not for the faint of heart, nor those afraid of heights. The route is almost entirely single track with a good blend of exposed cliff sides, water crossings, rock gardens, and some really sweet, fast and smooth sections.
In just under 8 miles, you will have climbed over 2,500′ and you’ll feel like you rode twice as much!
The first 2.25 miles of the ride is a nice warm up and will get you accustomed to not looking down. You should leave a lot of space between yourself and the person in front of you. And of course, yield to hikers. Whenever you get off your bike to let someone pass, stay on the inside (the cliff side) and allow people enough room to pass on the outside (the exposed side).
After enjoying a very short single track to the creek below, you’ll now begin your 3/4 of a mile walk up to Mt. Zion. You could try to power up this section, but you’ll burn off much needed energy for the last climb of this ride if you do! So, it’s better to just take it easy. Ride what you can but don’t feel bad about getting off to walk certain sections. (And you’ll know them when you see them!)
At about the 3.25 mile mark, you will have reached the high point of the ride. This is a good place to rest and have some food for this is where the real fun begins! You’ll drop about 1.25 miles into another canyon, followed by a much shorter (and doable) climb, and then 2.5 miles of sheer bliss as you drop back into the trees and navigate through numerous water crossings.
At about 7.2 miles, you’ll reach the low point of the ride, and what we like to call “The Final Grind”. It’s not terribly hard but after spending a couple hours on the mountain, it will take everything you have left to get up this combo fire road / paved road 400′ climb.
View Chantry Flats to Mt Zion Loop in a larger map
Forest Adventure Pass Required!
Nearby places to get one:
REI – Arcadia
214 N Santa Anita Ave, Arcadia, CA 91006
400 S. Baldwin Ave.
Arcadia, CA 91007
Day Adventure Passes are also available at the Chantry Flats parking area, but they’re double the price ($10.00) of anywhere else.
More options available here: http://www.fs.fed.us/r5/sanbernardino/ap/vendors.php
As far as parking goes, it’s best to carpool because the parking lot is very limited and fills up quickly – especially on the weekends. If you’re meeting people there, a good place to park and then carpool up would be at the corner of Arno Dr and N Santa Anita Ave in Arcadia, CA. But do be careful to watch out for no parking signs! From there you just keep following Santa Anita Dr up the windy, steep road to the Chantry Flats parking area. NOTE: Parking ANYWHERE once you past the gate requires a Forest Adventure pass. And also keep in mind that if you park near a hill side, rocks may fall on your car; and if you park next to a cliff side, your car may fall off the cliff!
Check out some real Garmin stats from this ride: