It could alternately be called the best or worst, depending on how many times you crash, but the 16 miles of single-track trail — cutting across oak-dotted hills and a dusty, manzanita-covered mountainside with views of Pyramid Lake, Quail Lake and the Antelope Valley — is breathtaking either way. The Golden Eagle Mountain Biking Trail in Angeles National Forest starts on the Old Ridge Route, rustic predecessor to the I-5 Grapevine, where, buried underneath the sage, is the foundation of the former Sandberg Summit Hotel, a ritzy rest stop for Model T Fords and Studebakers making the long, windy drive between Bakersfield and Los Angeles. Today, the remote trail and an adjacent fire road, marked with a bullet-riddled “No Thru Traffic” sign, usually are empty — which just means riders who make the trek have carpets of wildflowers (in spring) or curtains of fall colors (in autumn) all to themselves. Take I-5 to the 138 toward Lancaster and turn right at Old Ridge Route. The trailhead is about 3 miles up.
—Tessa Stuart

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