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Dawson Saddle Traverse

101 miles with 13,100 feet of climbing
Dawson Saddle Traverse • Route Profile
Route Profile

Dawson Saddle Traverse • Climbs

HC: Mile 12
Cat. 3: Mile 39, 48, 57, and 74
Cat. 4: Mile 3 and 6

Dawson Saddle Traverse • Description

Dawson Saddle is the #1 paved climb in California in terms of elevation gain. San Gabriel Canyon Road (Highway 39) and Angeles Crest Highway lead up to the saddle. After Crystal Lake turnoff, Highway 39 is closed due to landslides, but it is in rideable condition (with a few short gravel sections).
Starting in Azusa, the ascent can be broken into different sections: Morris Reservoir (short descent here), San Gabriel Reservoir (short descent here), East Fork turnoff (1,500 feet), Crystal Lake turnoff (5,000 feet), Islip Saddle (6,600 feet), and Dawson Saddle (7,900 feet).
After Dawson Saddle, the route leads down to Vincent Gulch Divide, then it ascends to Blue Ridge (Inspiration Point), and then it descends again to Wrightwood, passing Big Pines. The way back is the same, with an optional out-and-back climb to Crystal Lake.

Dawson Saddle Traverse • Interactive Map

Dawson Saddle Traverse • Pictures

Dawson Saddle Traverse • Morris Dam
Morris Dam
Dawson Saddle Traverse • San Gabriel Dam
San Gabriel Dam
Dawson Saddle Traverse • San Gabriel Canyon Road
San Gabriel Canyon Road
Dawson Saddle Traverse • San Gabriel Canyon Road
San Gabriel Canyon Road
Dawson Saddle Traverse • Islip Saddle
Islip Saddle
Dawson Saddle Traverse • Angeles Crest Highway
Angeles Crest Highway
Dawson Saddle Traverse • Dawson Saddle
Dawson Saddle
More pictures

Dawson Saddle Traverse • Personal Notes

2011
Bob N., John U., and I wanted to ride Azusa - Wrightwood - Azusa, traversing Dawson Saddle from both sides. However, when we turned onto Angeles Crest Highway, we hit a seasonal road closure. Not wanting to turn back, we started walking/riding until we reached Dawson Saddle.
I came back in summer to complete the entire route. I also rode Seal Beach - Dawson Saddle - Seal Beach and Dawson Saddle and Mount Baldy.
2012
I went for this ride to get in some climbing for the 2012 Rapha Rising Challenge. All of San Gabriel Canyon Road is now paved (there are no more gravel sections).
I also rode Angeles Crest Highway.
2013
I went for this ride to get in some climbing for the 2013 Rapha Rising Challenge. San Gabriel Canyon Road is now newly paved from where the road narrows until the road closure after Crystal Lake turnoff.
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See Also: Gran Fondos & Centuries
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