The Angeles Crest Highway, SR2, is 66 miles long from I-210 in La Cañada to Mountain Top Junction at SR138. The highway was originally envisioned in 1912 as "the most scenic and picturesque mountain road in the state", but the need for a road for fire-fighting was at least equally important. Funds were allocated beginning in 1919, construction began in 1929, continuing piece by piece until 1956, except from 1941 to 1946 during WWII.
The road is typically closed to car traffic and unplowed between Islip Saddle and Big Pines after the first snowfall (typically October through December, but as late as 2/20 in 2000) until May or June. Some recent closure dates:
(Sources: California Scenic Drives, San Gabriels, Dave Anderberg, Jim Carter, Jane Strong, Caltrans press releases)
Closure Opening Length of Closure (months) 06/12/92 ~07/01/98 ~5/15/99 02/20/00 5/9/00 2.6 01/10/01 5/25/01 4.5 ?/02 ?/02 ? ~12/16/02 >=6/03 >5.5 ? 7/3/03 ? ? 5/18/04 ?
Robert Sharp says that "the steepest grade of any part of the Angeles Crest - Angeles Forest Highway" is found just above I-210, as SR2 "climbs the alluvial slope at the foot of the San Gabriel Mountains". (GFG)
Unfortunately, this beautiful road is also the most dangerous road in California "based on miles traveled"! However, we haven't found the source of this statement, although that claim was printed in the L.A. Times on 8/4/04, A14. The L.A. Times also mentioned a list of 12 narrow, older roads identified in 2000 by state transportation planners as dangerous and in need of improvement. A search of the Caltrans website did not turn up that report.
Beginning in June 1999, a special $100,000 state safety grant has produced intensive enforcement of all traffic laws on the Highway along a specially-patrolled 38 mile section. This includes zero tolerance for the speed limit, the failure to turn on headlights in the special safety zone, or going over the yellow line. As a result, 1400 tickets were written from June 1999 through May 2000, 5-10 times the normal amount, with most written on the weekends.
Deaths and injuries have dropped by a factor of two on this 38 mile section, from an average of five deaths and 66 injuries per year from 1995-1999 to two deaths and 32 injuries in the last year. It won't surprise anyone who has driven on the highway that motorcyclists were involved in 47% of the accidents in 1995-1998, despite being less than 3% of all registered vehicles.
Dr. Cesar Aristeiguieta pushed for the safety campaign after he "treated four victims from three separate motorcycle accidents during a four-hour period in February 1999. Two of the victims died, one of them a 10-year-old boy who had been riding on the back of his father's motorcycle."
The special grant was renewed through May 2001. (LAT 7/1/00, B5)
Trail Conditions: Road closures and information (contains SR2 information if there are closures)
Caltrans Webpage On the Status of the Angeles Crest Highway
Daniel P. Faigin's California Highways: SR2 (History, Names, etc.)
Angeles Crest Highway Road Guide: Plant Communities
John Chambers' Elevations
SGM News (see 2/13/01 road closure info)
Copyright © 1999-2004 by Tom Chester and Jane Strong.
Permission is freely granted to reproduce any or all of this page as long as credit is given to us at this source:
Comments and feedback: Tom Chester | Jane Strong
Updated 4 August 2004.