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Where To Bike Los Angeles MTB

Posted April 4th, 2014

It surprises many people to learn that Los Angeles is a great place to ride mountain bikes. It’s easy to think of LA with its car centric sprawl as cut off from nature, but it’s not. What LA outdoor enthusiasts treasure is that this city is surrounded by the ocean, mountains and desert that provide vast recreational opportunities. There are little neighborhood trails and major recreational trailheads that will get you there. Whether it’s an after dinner ride with the family or an all day epic adventure, there are places to go. In the middle of 12 million people, it’s still easy to find yourself alone on some sinewy singletrack or with your friends on some overlook with incomparable views. LA is an urban landscape that is easy to escape from. This book will show you how.

Where To Bike Los Angeles MTB draws from the more than 75 years of combined LA mountain biking experience of Jim Hasenauer, Mark Langton and Steve Messer. They each have years of riding and years of mountain bike advocacy and they’re sharing it with the reader. The three friends have an intimate knowledge of the mountain bike community and the public lands of LA. Here they describe 60 of the best rides near Los Angeles. There are options for all, from beginners to experienced, technical riders. That’s one of the amazing things about mountain biking. No matter how you ride, there is always someone better who can push and teach you; and there is always someone just behind learning the ropes. Still we share this love of the mountain bike. This book embraces all who find themselves in the dirt.

Where To Bike Los Angeles MTB identifies rides in Ojai, Mount Pinos, Santa Clarita, Simi, Thousand Oaks, the Santa Monicas, the Verdugos, the San Gabriels; San Dimas; the Chino Hills; all the way to the Palos Verdes Penninsula. No matter where you are in LA, you’ll find close accessible rides and most likely, you’ll be inspired to try some new adventures on fresh trail just a little bit farther than your home range. Each ride is described and rated so you’ll know what to expect.

Besides the rides, there’s a wealth of information central to the mountain bike way of knowledge. You’ll learn about the ecology, the social history and the special risks of these Southern California landscapes. There’s information on LA mountain bike advocacy. There’s a chapter on skills guaranteed to make you a better rider.

One of the joys of mountain biking is spreading the word. “Where to bike?” is the fundamental question for the mountain bicyclist. This book provides the answer for Angelenos and visitors alike.


Whether you are a hiker, equestrian or most of all a mountain biker, this guide book has finally accomplished what we have needed for so long in Los Angeles, a proper guide to our MTB trails. It is for mountain bikers specifically, and it is unforgiving in almost every detail about the best MTB rides our area offers... stats, elevations, directions, GPS points and even nearby institutions for after-ride nourishment.

The three amazing authors in Where to Bike Los Angeles, Mountain Biking are internationally renowned and absolute experts in their fields. Los Angeles may have not been the place where MTB was born, but it's certainly where it grew up.

This exciting guide book is chock-full of history and folklore as you discover each trail where you ultimately find Nirvana when you finish.

The world's most well-known MTB activists and experts are based in LA, so luckily this guide book is full of information for all levels of the sport, even on an international level, and indeed for anyone interested in mountain biking world-wide.

Gene Evans
Los Angeles MTB Pioneer

Gene Evans directed the first permitted MTB race in the modern history of the Angeles National Forest

About the Authors

Steve Messer

Steve’s love of the outdoors began in the 1970’s riding and exploring the back-country trails of his native Australia. With a father who collected cameras, Steve took a keen interest in photography at an early age and naturally became an avid outdoor photographer.

As an 18 year old Steve sailed on a racing yacht through South America, the Caribbean, and on to the U.S. He settled in Los Angeles in 1984 and began commuting by bike. Before long he was competing in local cycling events and triathlons.

In 1987 Steve bought his first mountain bike, and the first place he rode it was the Arroyo Seco and Brown Mountain (Ride 49) in the San Gabriel Mountains, a place he continues to ride regularly.

During the late 1980’s Steve was race director for the Olive View Challenge, a series of multi-sport events that included what was perhaps the first mountain bike race in the San Gabriel Mountains. Steve enlisted an up-and-coming young pro named John Tomac to design the course for the NORBA, USCF and Tri-Fed sanctioned event.

After completing a Master of Science degree in 1991, Steve opened a practice in sports medicine acupuncture. He co-founded the National Sports Acupuncture Association. He has a keen interest in biology.

Aside from his clinical work, Steve continued his love for the outdoors as a whitewater rafting guide in the Sierra Nevada Mountains and Central America. He has also guided mountain bike trips in Costa Rica. As a guide and natural interpreter, he helped many outdoor enthusiasts through challenging situations while taking time to explore and explain the backdrop of local flora, fauna and history. Steve was among the first members of the Over the Bars Mountain Bike Club, formed in 1993, and continues to help manage the active Los Angeles based group.

Currently serving as the vice-president of CORBA, Steve is actively involved in local mountain bike advocacy. He represents mountain bikers to the California Trail Users Coalition and the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition. He is a regular on Bike Talk radio, a KPFK podcast about cycling. As an active CORBA trail crew member and Forest Service volunteer, Steve does regular trail work in the Angeles National Forest and other open spaces around Southern California.

Jim Hasenauer

Jim Hasenauer is a Professor Emeritus of Communication Studies at California State University, Northridge having taught courses in interpersonal communication, communicationtheory and public policy. He started mountain biking in 1984 for recreation and urban escape and that led him to a life long involvement with the sport. As a mountain bicycle advocate, he has represented responsible mountain biking to land managers, politicians, and environmental and trail recreation groups for 25 years.

Jim was one of the founders of the Concerned Off-Road Bicyclists Association in Los Angeles in 1987, served on the CORBA Steering Committee until '97 and is still an active CORBA volunteer. He has served on the Board of Directors of the International Mountain Bicycling Association from its founding in 1988 until 2004 and served as IMBA's president from '91-'96. On sabbatical from CSUN in '96-'97, Jim worked full time as IMBA's Director of Education, working with IMBA local clubs on issue analysis and advocacy skills. He has represented mountain bicyclists not only in the United States but at meetings in Canada, Switzerland, Germany, Australia and France.

He has served as the land access representative to NORBA (National Off-Road Bicycle Association) Board of Trustees from 1991-2000 and on the USA Cycling Board of Directorsfrom 1997-2000. He is the coauthor of the first mountain bike guidebook to the Santa Monica Mountains, the author of several articles in bicycling magazines and papers on the recreational trail community for academic and professional conferences. In 1998, Jim was inducted into the Mountain Bike Hall of Fame for his long standing efforts on behalf of the mountain bicyclist.

Hasenauer is currently the President of the California Trails and Greenways Foundation, the Co-Chair of the California Roundtable on Recreation Parks and Tourism and a member of the Governing Board of the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority. He writes and speaks extensively on mountain bike, public land, and trail community issues in a variety of academic and public policy contexts.

Mark Langton

Mark Langton has been a mountain bike journalist and advocate for more than 25 years, and has been teaching mountain biking skills since 1987. He began riding mountain bikes in 1983 in the Santa Monica Mountains of Southern California. In 1985 he began racing and attained the rank of Expert, garnering a factory sponsorship from Yeti Cycles and numerous top-10 finishes in national level competitions, including fourth overall in the nation in 1988 (downhill).

He was the editor of Mountain Biking magazine (Challenge Publications), one of the country’s most successful mountain bike publications, for over seven years during the mountain biking boom of the late 80s and early to mid-90s. He is also the author of Golden Books’ “Mountain Biking”, co-author of Fine Edge Productions’ “Riding Santa MonicaMountain’s Best Trails”, a comprehensive guide to riding in the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, and Menasha Ridge Press’ Mountain Bike Master comprehensive skills book.

As an advocate, Mark has helped shape mountain bike use policy in the largest urban parkland in the country. He helped found the Concerned Off-Road Bicyclists Association (CORBA) and the City of Thousand Oaks’ Conejo Open Space Trails Advisory Committee (COSTAC) in 1987 and 1988 respectively. He served for 12 years on CORBA’s Steering Committee, and since 2009 has been on CORBA’s Board of Directors. He still sits on COSTAC’s board. Mark also helped establish and grow the Mountain Bike Unit (MBU), the nation’s largest volunteer mountain bike backcountry patrol with over 100 members, sponsored by the National Park Service, California Department of Parks and Recreation, and Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority. In 1992 he helped create CORBA’s Introduction To Mountain Biking Skills class, which he continues to coordinates and coach. More information about Mark’s personal mountain bike instruction can be found at Mark has helped literally thousands of people get better at riding their mountain bikes.

As a freelance journalist and consultant, Mark has written for some of the country’s top outdoor enthusiast magazines, including Snow Country and Bicycling. He has also written text for technical manuals and consumer catalogs for some of the world’s largest bicycle companies, including Giant USA, Diamondback, Bianchi USA, Raleigh USA and Univega. From 2000-2004 he was the Communications Coordinator for Giant Bicycles USA. Other related positions include Media Relations Coordinator for the 1997 and 1998 Southern California Bicycle Expos, California’s most successful consumer expo, and Director of Communications for the National Off-Road Bicycle Association (NORBA) in 1992. He was also the Gear Editor at Weider Publications’ Men’s Fitness magazine from 1998-1999.

Mark is also currently a Motorcyle RiderCoach for the California Motorcyclist Safety Program, coaching all levels of street motorcycle skills. His motto is “never stop learning.”