Monday, December 12, 2011

My Favorite Routes VI: Bonelli Park Loop (Road)...

Puddingstone Reservoir with Mt. Baldy in the distance

I imagine that pretty much everyone who lives local to eastern Los Angeles County, or the western edge of San Bernardino County, has a loop that takes in Frank G. Bonelli Regional Park. It is such a year-round attraction, that it is only natural to include it as some midway point in a loop, or out-and-back ride. The park is a standout jewel in Los Angeles County's park system.

As is typical of all my local favorite routes, this one starts from my front door, but to make the route more relevant for everyone else, I will use the Euro Cafe start point at the corner of Mills and Baseline as the staging/kickoff reference point. Start out by heading west on Baseline, a mostly down grade through Claremont, La Verne and into San Dimas. The easy grade gives your legs a nice chance to warm up; it is also pretty fast, the last time I rode this route I averaged over 21 mph into the park. At the end of Baseline briefly merge onto Foothill and then make the left onto San Dimas Canyon Road and take this down to Bonita Avenue where you make a right, riding along this street to the edge of old San Dimas, where you make a left on San Dimas Avenue. You will take San Dimas Ave around to Puddingstone Drive which you reach after descending into a shallow wooded canyon; you will make a left on Puddingstone - there is no traffic control here and cars can move fast, and while I have never had any problems, you should be aware when you go to make your turn. This section of Puddingstone has a gradual upslope; after a quarter mile look for a yellow steel pipe gate and turn right. 

This is Raging Waters Drive, and a back entrance to Bonelli Park. This used to be a two way road, though normally closed to cars. Now it is a one way road and you will be riding against traffic across the dam - when there is traffic that is. Occasionally local residents use this as a short cut, but it is quite rare, just be aware of the possibility. The one exception is during the summer when Raging Waters is open, I don't recommend riding this route at this time of year. Anyway, you will cross the dam at which point the road will become two-way again. Continue along to the stop sign at Via Verde, turn left, ride past the entry booth (bikes are free) and you are now in the main part of the park. It is amazing how quiet this part of the park can be, even on a weekend morning. Continue along, pushing up some low rollers and then freewheeling down, until to get to the one big obstacle of the day, the steeper side of Via Verde hill. Whether you are or are not, people will think you are hard core when they see you going up this side rather than down it.

At the top of Via Verde, just past another entry shack, make a left and continue climbing for a short way. Notice the nice little single track trail off to the right and running above the equestrian trail - that is part of my mtb loop which I will cover at a future time. After you top out on this climb you will descend a short ways to another entry shack, this one for the public campground rv park (sometimes you will see tents on the grassy verges, but mostly you see massive rv's, and we all know that is not camping). Go around and continue down into and through the campground rv park; at the store make a right and then an immediate right again on a road into the lower campground. This is a fast descent, but there are speed bumps so watch out. There is a stop sign at the bottom where you make a left. Continue through the campground until reaching a service road going to the left and take that through the narrow bike / pedestrian access opening. Enjoy the views over the reservoir to the San Gabriel Mountains beyond all along this stretch - eventually you come out at the East Shore area where, chances are, there will be people fishing from a couple piers or from the shore, or picnicing. It is a nice place to take a moment or two to enjoy the views.

a quiet cove near the campground

view out across Puddingstone from the service road after leaving the campground

the East Shore

Where the service road you have been on comes out at the East Shore make a left onto the East Shore access road and take it a short distance back to Via Verde and make a right. You will be at the bottom of the big hill you climbed up a few minutes previous and will now head back, retracing the route along Via Verde and Raging Waters Drive through the park, over the dam, and back to that yellow gate at Puddingstone Drive. Turn right here and punch it up a short rise. Puddingstone is a mostly quiet road, one of those roads that feels like you are out in the country somewhere rather than in the middle of a city; I love this road and wish it were longer. Puddingstone eventually runs alongside Brackett Field, and at the first actual street (Wright Avenue, which is just past the airfield tower) make a left. This little detour takes you through a business park, but more importantly allows you to bypass a lengthy section of Fairplex Drive which I dub the Speedway for perhaps obvious reasons (see photo below for more). When you do come out at Fairplex make a left and continue back into La Verne, the road changes its name to E Street after crossing Arrow Highway.

Make a right on Bonita, which you will take all the way back into the Claremont Village. When you cross into Claremont this route becomes the Citrus Regional Bikeway. Who knows maybe someday the Pomona, La Verne and San Dimas sections of Bonita will also carry the same designation. Once back into Claremont there are any number of ways to get back to the start point, in fact I don't think I ever take the same route twice in a row. But, for the sake of directness, you can make a left on College, a right on 12th which takes you through the Colleges, and then a left on Mills, which you ride back uphill to finish the ride. You will end up with about 25 miles (assuming you don't stray from the path) and about 1400 feet of elevation gain. Riding time is about 1 hour, 20 minutes, maybe 1.5 hours; stops to take in the view, for coffee or whatnot can add to that. Honestly, Bonelli is so beautiful any time of the year that it is hard not to stop at some point.

even the inland areas away from the lake are nice, with shaded grass expanses,
play areas, picnic tables and barbeques

park roads are about as quiet as you can get

you will never not see riders in Bonelli

autumn colors (still) and fisher folk

Puddingstone Drive, outside the park, but still quiet

Fairplex Drive, aka the Speedway, and not just due to the NHRA speedway along the one side there. with just one light (which rarely turns red) cars drive super fast along here and rednecks in pickups are unwilling to give even an inch of roadway.

Others of my favorite routes:


  1. - wouldn't that be a right on Bonita? (after Fairplex/E St.)

  2. Apparently I need a proof-reader. You are right.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...