Several roads climb into the San Gabriel Mountains (see map
below), and although all are paved they are sometimes very winding, steep and narrow. Most traveled is the Angeles Crest Highway
(Route 2) - this climbs steadily, starting, in the west, from La Canada Flintridge on I-210, and peaks at Dawson Saddle, elevation 7,903 feet. En route it passes side roads, trailheads, deep and scenic forested ravines, viewpoints of distant mountain peaks, several official forest campsites and plenty of places suitable for free camping. One of the main turnings is a 4.5 mile road to the summit of Mount Wilson
, site of many aerials and communication towers, plus several overlooks and trailheads; this is perhaps the best place for elevated views of the northern Los Angeles suburbs, 5,000 feet below. A few miles east of the highpoint of Route 2, the road reaches the northeast edge of the mountains, high above the San Andreas Rift Zone and within sight of the start of the Mojave Desert
, 3,000 feet below, where the land stretches to the horizon, parched, perfectly flat and criss-crossed by a regular grid of apparently endless straight roads. Back in the mountains, one of the southern side roads is Highway 39 which used to connect the Crest Highway with Azusa, via steep-sided San Gabriel Canyon, but this has been closed since 1978 due to numerous landslides. However, recent developments suggest it may reopen in the next few years.
Significant snow falls on the mountains in winter, covering some places to depths of 10 feet or more. The roads are plowed regularly allowing visitors to reach the four designated skiing/snowboarding areas, at Kratka Ridge, Mount Waterman, Mount Baldy, and Mountain High - the most popular ski resort in southern California. At higher levels patches of snow can persist until July, even while daytime temperatures may exceed 80°F. At this time people come to the hills for camping, photography, wildlife-watching, and especially hiking, with nearly 200 recognized trails to choose from.