JPL Red Box shuttle ride

I got the idea for this adventure in the Spring when we rode out and back on Gabrielino. Lots of guys ‘shuttle ride’ this route. They meet at the bottom, pile into one truck, drive to the top, ride down and then drive back to the top for the first truck. Four additional motor vehicle trips on the narrow and windy Angeles Crest highway. Could we do this human powered without being irritatingly self-righteous?

(Cole took this photo. If you look close you can see the shadow from his mustache)

Easy. A group rides road 30 miles up Angeles Crest to Red Box (about 5000 ft elevation) towing mountain bikes. Another group trail runs 15 miles to Red Box. At the top group one passes the mountain bikes to group two who then ride the 15 miles of single track down to JPL.

To start I was up from 3am on 2 hours sleep and Max had stayed up the entire night. Brian rode out from El Segundo on his mountain bike (30 miles) and we met at JPL at 8am. I had posted the ride to Midnight Ridazz so we did not know who would show up. Our original plan was for Jack to ride road pulling the bikes with some sort of Rock Lobster rack, but that didn’t work out and Jack didn’t make it. Now Max is no slack rider, but he hasn’t been riding too much beyond commuting. Could he take 50 pounds of mountain bikes on the Big Dummy? Yes he can. With Michael on as support Max did an epic road ride with 50 pounds of cargo.


Brian and I set off on foot along the Arroyo-Seco to the Gabrielino. It’s a beautiful trail with stream crossings, boulders, canyons with full cover and exposed, dry ridges. I love it. Below Brian is picking some wild berries as the mountains we are about to run up loom in the distance. Yes, he is wearing his bike helmet. Said it was the easiest way to carry it.

Some switchbacks that we would soon be descending down.

Brian and I ran together the first 5 or so miles and then inevitably he dropped me. I ran almost all of the first 9 miles to Switzer Falls. There I begged some picnicing folk for water as I had run out about 45 minutes previous. The last 4 miles up were quite difficult, as expected. I hiked most of this section at a good clip and ended up at the top only 30 minutes or so after Brian; about four hours after we set off.

Brutal blister. I also rolled my foot as I was wearing some light weight running shoes. Duh.

Gabrielino is not an easy trail to ride down. For a number of miles the trail is between 1 or 2 feet wide with the mountain to one side and a huge drop to the other. Some sections are a little washed out (I like to bunnyhop them cause it’s easier than having to unclip and get off your bike).

We were back and forth with a group of three mountain bikers who were all really cool. They told us about a sweet swimming hole only a 1/4 mile off the main trail.


Brian and I were super tired and it was a tough decision. I think we made the right one. Cold cold water is a great remedy for aching muscles.

After 8 hours in the wilderness (just like a 9-5, only fun) we headed over to Pasadena to take the Gold Line to Chinatown. From here I had a short ride home and Brian, after buying some durian fruit, took the train back to El Segundo.

Max getting his well-deserved AdventureSnore.


Next time: I’d like to film this. It is so gorgeous back there and so accessible from Los Angeles. In my mind Sunday was a beautiful combination of DIY, adventure and wtf? Sure, there is an environmental component, but that is a secondary benefit to some friends getting together and thinking about new ways of exploring an amazing area and what is possible.

6 Comments

Filed under hike, off-road, public trans, road, run

6 responses to “JPL Red Box shuttle ride

  1. Why were you towing mountain bikes to Red Box? To pass them off to another group of riders that road the trail to Red Box on mountain bikes? I don’t get it.

  2. Now I get it! Group 2 was running to Red Box.I want to get myself a mountain bike – I sounds like great fun.

  3. I totally saw you guys! I was on my way down from Mt. Wilson at 35 mph and I passed the Mt. bikes being towed up. I was like, “Did i just see those guys towing mt. bikes? Awesome!!” I ride up there all the time and i’m always seeing the Mt. bikers trucking it up there and i’ve thought of a similar project so it’s so rad to see you guys do it! Congrats. . .p.s. i’m putting together a ride blog of my road rides around the Angeles Mts. and it should be up and running in a week. . .Thanks Matt for the inspiration. I’ve been checking out your site since I did Feel My Legs. . .

  4. Are all OrganicAthlete members this insane?! Rock on. That sounds like fun.

  5. One fun way to go if you don’t feel like shuttling bikes is to take the Gold line to the Lake Ave station and head to the Angeles Crest by going up and over Mt. Lowe. That way you can ride the whole time. It will still take all day but it’s pretty fun having to descend to get to Red Box.http://www.mbpost.com/trail/263728/Mount-Lowe-Railway.html

  6. D

    I live in Newhall and want to ride Redbox because I hear it can be shuttled, but I don't know enough about the trail to lead a ride. Anyone have info that will make it easy for us to stay on the shuttle-able route?Anyone planning on riding this trail soon, so's I can tag along? I ride a full sus. Kona can usually keep up.Any website have explicit directions and trail map?Thanks in advance ya'll!drynroasty@gmail.com

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