Mount Lowe Railway

4.61 out of 5
View Topo Map


↑ 700 ft
↓ 700 ft
elevation (ft)

Trail Description
About this trail
The Mount Lowe Railway is a historic railroad grade that used to transport people up the mountains to several different hotels and resorts that used to rest high up in the San Gabriels. Today the train tracks are gone, but you can still ride through an old tunnel, see old bridges, and even the ruins of some of the hotels.

The railway itself is a wide doubletrack that descends down from the Mount Wilson Observatory road all the way down to the city below. However, singletrack trails have been built around the railway, forming an excellent network of mountain bike trails!

You can ride up the railway and down the singletrack, as the guidebook recommends, or you could just get shuttled up to the trailhead at the top of the railway (on Mount Wilson Redbox Rd.) and just enjoy the delectable downhill! GPS coordinates for the top trailhead are given above (insert your address and click the “map it” function), or if you want to climb up from the bottom drive to these coordinates: 34.21482, -118.14553. If you do decide to shuttle, I recommend leaving a car down at Loma Alta Park, as it’s free (you have to buy a National Forest Adventure Pass if you park at the bottom of Mount Lowe) and there is singletrack dropping down basically right to the park (see GPS track provided).

There is a comples trail network up here with an untold number of options, but here is one route to take down.

From the top, begin by descending the Mount Lowe Railway for a couple of miles. Soak in the gorgeous views, and live it up as you ride through a tunnel in the mountainside—how often do you get to do that on a mountain bike? Ignore a few of the trails branching off, but when you reach the junction with the turn off to Inspiration Point, catch the Sam Merrill trail, which parallels the road for a while and then turns downhill.

After shredding the rolling singletrack through the trees, Sam Merrill pops out into the exposed face of the mountain, turning into a technical, switchbacked descent. Look out for trail junctions, and eventually you’ll see a sign for the Sunset Trail, heading back to the Mount Lowe Railway. Turn back on yourself and begin the climb back up the hill. From here, there are other trail options that I believe drop quickly down the mountainside into town. If you live in the area, these other options are worth exploring.

On with the recommended route: climb up the gradual grade until you reach the Mount Lowe Railway again, turn left to head down it, and take the first right onto the Sunset Trail. There’s been some awesome descending up to this point… now it’s time to really rip! The singletrack drops fast and furious, but there are numerous tight, technical switchbacks to negotiate, so watch out! The Sunset trail is an awesome singletrack ride—enjoy it!

Eventually, the Sunset trail rejoins the Mount Lowe Railway, so hang a right and continue descending. If you parked a car at the Mount Lowe trailhead, just head down the road a little ways to hook up with your ride. If you choose to take my advice and park further down the mountain at Loma Alta Park, however, hang a left off of the Mount Lowe Railway near the sign in book and map, and drop down the road next to the chain link fence.

Pick up the singletrack trail on the right that continues dropping down the mountain, and enjoy a rutted-out descent that is signficiantly more technical than most of the trails up above! Continue straight across the road to continue onto the trail, and eventually the trail drops you out right at the park—score!

If you have enough time, shuttle back up and do it again!
added by Greg HeilWorld Champ
Trail Features
Trail features
  • Lift Service
  • Drinking Water
  •   Night Riding
  • Pump Track
  • Restrooms
  • Winter Fat Biking
Directions to Trailhead
Get Directions
Create a free Singletracks account to get directions to this trail.

Trail Q&A
Rider Questions


Q: How much -Rodthrottle

No answers yet.


Please login or create an account to ask a question.
System Trails (2)
System Trails (2)
Sunset Trail
Sam Merril
Local Info & Nearby Trails
Trail Check-ins
Trail Check-ins
what's this?
Recent Trail Check-ins     (76 total check-ins)
  Jaymie Miguel   on Aug 4, 2019
  Jaymie Miguel   on Aug 4, 2019
  Dv_Cho   on Jul 17, 2019
  Oll777   on Jul 14, 2019
  Carlos Cornejo   on Jun 8, 2019
Photo & Video Gallery (38)
Trail Photos & Videos (38)
Reviews (4)

Bunny Hop

July 10, 2015
Mudsoldier Bunny Hop  
Review: Great ride. Many ways to ride this mountain. Mt. Wilson area has to have over 100 miles of singletrack, many loops, and a lot of ways to go up as well as down. This entire area is enough to keep you satisfied for ever. Though I don't live at the base of the Mountain as I used to, I still look forward to riding this trail whenever I am in town. If you keep going to the top of Wilson, you can go down the back into Switzer falls and back out through Aroyo Seco / Brown Mt. route which comes out behind JPL and will take you most of the day. The single track back behind Switzer and Brown Mt. is really fun with water crossings and interesting features...a lot of it in the shade and very beautiful. Feels like you're hundreds of miles from the city back there.

ReplyWas this helpful? Yes | No


March 20, 2014
Review: The grind to the top is worth spinning. The network of singletracks are a mtbr's dream. Make sure you check out the echo phone and stop to read the history of the trail as you go up.

ReplyWas this helpful? Yes | No


December 16, 2013
welker666 Gramcounter  
Review: I went to the top of the railway through the tunnel and then came back catching the mount lowe east trail then back to the road the sam merril then back to road then Sunset trail. It was pretty cool. I wish I had just gone to Sam Merril and started the descent. 10 Miles up is crazy. But worth it. I love the idea of the shuttle but I am philosophically opposed. Not for long probably. If its your first time it is hard to resist climbing to the tunnel. The climb gets easier at about 3 miles.

ReplyWas this helpful? Yes | No

World Champ

July 6, 2012
Greg Heil World Champ  
Review: What an amazing ride! No wonder it's so popular!

ReplyWas this helpful? Yes | No

Mount Lowe Railway MTB Trail 4.61 out of 5 based on 4 ratings. 4 user reviews.
Trail Conditions
Trail Conditions          < / > embed
Feature Article
Shuttle Runs in the San Gabriels: Mount Wilson and Mount Lowe
The 10 Best MTB Shuttle Routes in the Western US