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You are here: Home : Mountain Biking Last Updated on 07/17/2004    
Diff: Rating 6/10
Scenic: Rating 7/10
Tech: Rating 4/10
Pilot Rock from Hesperia, CA
         via Highway 173, Pilot Rock Rd (2N33)
Location: San Bernardino Mountains, San Bernardino National Forest, Southern California
Region: Silverwood Lake Region
Total Distance: 22.4 Mi
Elevation Gain: 2,400 Ft
Season: Sept-April
Type: Out & Back
Start Elev: 3,110 Ft
Peak Elev: 5,220 Ft
Total Time: 2.5 hr

Ride added by
on 06/02/1997
Driving Directions
From Hesperia, take Main St. east. Continue on the same road when the name changes to Arrowhead Lake Road. Continue to the end of Arrowhead Lake Road at Highway 173. Make a left here and travel about 1 mile to the end of the paved road. Park here and ride up the dirt road. Note: a National Forest Adventure Pass is required to park here.
Ride up unpaved Highway 173 7 miles until it is paved once again. Continue on Hwy 173 to Pilot Rock Road 2N33(paved, one lane). This road travels pass a sewage treatment plant and then the pavement ends. Shortly after this, there is a water crossing that is paved by concrete and is usually flowing. I've always been able to ride through this. Continue up the dirt road. Eventually it opens up back into the desert and Pilot rock is just above the highest spot in the road. You can see the rock from a distance but when you're right under it, you can't see it. You can hike up one of the trails to get up to the rock. Turn around and go back the way you came up.

See the updates section below for variations on the route.
This is a very hot ride to do in the summer months. Get a very early start if you go when it's hot.
Trail Condition
Unpaved highway 173 is fairly well maintained. Portions of Pilot Rock Road, 2N33, are a little rough or rutted. Some good climbing in a few short sections. Makes for some quick time out of there on the way back.
Forest Details
Starts in desert scrub. First large pine trees appear at about 5 miles into ride and continue until about 9 miles into ride. At this point, the desert plants resume to Pilot Rock and beyond. The pine trees are dominantly Coulter Pine. Overall, it it's hot, little relief from the heat is offered by the trees and there is no relief where there are no trees. Top this off with light colored dirt and this place can be plain miserable (unbearable) to ride during the summer.
Additional Elevation & Distance Information
Pilot Rock is located at 5260 feet elevation. The forest road goes around both sides of the rock. The road on the north side is the main road. The trail in the back is rougher. There are 3 main trails that go up to the actual rock.
Added on 07/17/2004 by TractorUp
7-17-04 This is nearly the same ride as on 3-19-00. Started from my house in Hesperia at about 6:15am and got back a couple minutes after 11am.

Total Distance: 41.5 miles
Average Speed: 10.2 mph
Max Speed: 34.4 mph
Riding Time: 243 minutes
Elevation Gain/Loss: 5200 feet
Temp Range: 72-101 ºF
Odometer Reading after ride: 4862 miles
Everything here is slightly less than it should be as my computer stopped working intermittently. Actual distance is probably more like 43 miles.

From Hesperia ride to Ranchero Rd x Danbury Ave. Ride out towards the desert. At the end of the pavement (new) make a right and go a couple hundred feet to a trail on your left. Follow this trail about .8 mile to Las Flores Rd. This road is not marked. It's one of the main trails out there and has the biggest cuts into the hillsides. Ride this road to Hwy 173 jumping a locked gate at the aqueduct. At Hwy 173, make a right and go about 1/2 mile or so to Hwy 138. Make a left here and follow the highway on the wide shoulder up and around Silverwood Lake to Pilot Rock Rd turnoff. Make a left here and make a right onto 2N37 shortly thereafter. Continue straight on 2N37 for maybe 1/2 mile to 2N36 signed "To Pilot Rock". Continue up this somewhat steep loose grade to 2N33 at the ridge top. Make a right and follow the main road a few miles to the last main bump and big rock on top of a small hill. This is Pilot Rock. After the rock, continue on 2N33 for a fast descent to Hwy 173 and make a left. Continue down Hwy 173 which is now paved about 2 miles further down than it used to be. The pavement ends at a tree disposal operation off the Hwy. Continue down the Hwy to where it becomes repaved and levels out. Ride about 1 mile to Arrowhead Lake road and make a right. Continue on Arrowhead Lake rd across the Mojave River and up a hill. Just on the other side of the hill is the entrance to the dam. Make a right here and jump the gate. Ride across the dam to the other side and descend down a steep hill to a rock pile. Hop over the rocks. Ride the dirt road straight and then to the left to the locked gate on Deep Creek Rd. Hop this gate and continue on Deep Creek Rd to at least across from Hesperia Lakes and cross the Mojave River back to Hesperia.

Suprisingly, this ride was not uncomfortably warm, it was a little humid though. Like always, it seems like a long climb from Hwy 138 to Pilot Rock. I walked some the steeper, sandier portions and other portions I wasn't riding much faster than I could have been walking.

I started this ride carrying 11 liters of water and enough food for 3 days on my back in preparation for ride up White Mountain that I'm planning next week. After the first 4 miles I dumped about 2-3 liters. Just before mile 12, I dumped about another liter and topped off my CamelBak. All that weight made it somewhat painful to sit down for very long. After that it wasn't ultra comfortable but wasn't bad. My bag weighed in at 18 pounds when I got back and I had about 3.5 liters left. For White Mountain, I'll put 8 liters on my back and 2 bottles on the bike.

I ended up riding a total of 50 miles today.
Added on 03/01/2003 by TractorUp
This variation is about 27 miles and 3 hours round trip and 4500 ft total elevation gain. Rode from the base of unpaved Highway 173 to Pilot Rock Road (2N33). Road to Pilot rock and up the trail to the rock at 11.2 miles. Turned around and got on 2N34 to head into Grass Valley. This road dumps out on Sonoma Dr. in Grass Valley and I took this up a long hill to Amador Ln. Made a left onto Merced Ln which runs into Trinity Dr and this deadends at Brentwood Dr. Made a left here and took Brentwood Dr. back to Grass Valley Rd. Made a left onto Grass Valley Rd and took it back to Highway 173, made a left and back down to parking area.

This ride was the best. Went out on this particular day to have a muddy ride cause a foot or more of snow had just dumped 4 days before. For the most part, unpaved Highway 173 was pretty clean, just a scattered puddle. Didn't start to see snow until about mile 6 up highway 173. At this point, the snow was still patchy and riding was easy. So where's all the mud? I was kind of pissed off about the whole thing. I want some mud dammit. Decided to head up to Pilot Rock. Little bit more snow on the start of 2N33, but still not more than 6 inches max off the side of the road. There was a lot of water on the road, puddles everywhere. That was pretty fun. I had just past the turnoff to 2N34 and then I past the biggest puddle, must have been at least a foot deep. Right after I went through it, this group of maybe 12 SUVs comes down the other way and they all went through it fine. The road was very wet, the clay/sandy ground was saturated. Road up to Pilot Rock and took the trail on the north side to the top. Had to hike up this trail and could barely manage that because the clay mud was damn slippery. But the mud was wet enough where it didn't really stick to anything better than it stuck to itself, so it was still hard to get muddy from this muck. Road back down to 2N34 and made a right. At first the road was like 2N33 except less wet. But after about 1/2 mile, the snow just started in and it was maybe 6 inches deep on the road. The snow quickly built up and for the next 1.5 miles or so I was hiking through about 1.5 feet of snow on the road and about 1/2 foot deep in the car tracks. At this turnaround area, everyone that had drove this far since the snow dumped 4 days earlier had turned around, so after that, the tire tracks were minimal. Eventually the road started going downhill and that was some fun riding on the wet snow. The only other tracks out there from the last 4 days were a set of snowshoes and a dog. Next thing I know, I come around a corner and there's a bunch of cabins and Grass Valley. There was about a 4 foot snowbank on the side of Sonoma Dr. where it met 2N34. Then I road up Sonoma up a long, fairly steep hill. I could have just gone down to Brentwood and out that way. This would have been less climbing. But I didn't really care, heck I got to go up to 5575 feet by going up the way I did. It was 38 degrees the whole time I was in Grass Valley. Made it a little cold coming down cause I was pretty wet from all that snow and all the puddles back in the forest. My rear brakes didn't work too good after getting all that snow and dirt and water all over them. Overall, this was a great ride. The road conditions are what made this ride a blast, the muck, the water, the snow. Damn, I wanna go again.
Added on 06/01/2000 by TractorUp
This ride was 44.7 miles and 218 minutes round trip. Temp range: 70-95F. I was going to do just one ride about 70mi but I ran low on water and the nearest supply was a long way downhill, so I cut it short. This was an awesome and enjoyable ride, it was the reverse direction of the ride I took on 3/19/00 and this was a much better way to go because you go down on 2N36 rather than up and it's probably about 1500ft elev. in 2 miles. Dirt Hwy 173 was pretty sandy in parts though, Pilot Rock Rd was nice except there were bees all over. Hwy 138: two dead owls, one dead cat, stink bad. Kick a** ride but hot. After this ride, I went home, had lunch and got back on my bike and road another 37.3 miles in 164 minutes (mostly paved roads).

Directions are as follows:
Hesperia to Arrowhead Lake Rd to Hwy 173 (make left) to dirt Hwy 173 to paved Hwy 173 to Pilot Rock Rd (2N33) past Pilot Rock to Dart Canyon Rd (2N36) down to near prison to Miller Canyon Rd to Hwy 138 all the way to Summit Valley Rd and back to Hesperia.
Added on 04/19/2000 by TractorUp
This was a 28 mile, 168 minute ride. It is the same ride as above that loops from Highway 173 to Pilot Rock Road (2N33) and back to Highway 173 at the dam. I rode across the dam on this day. It snowed in these parts the day before this ride but I saw little snow. It was pretty hot, no wind. Pilot Rock Rd was the coolest I've ever seen it though, lots of little stream crossings, puddle hopping, but all rideable. I didn't walk one step on this entire ride.
Added on 03/19/2000 by TractorUp
This variation is 44.1 miles round trip and took 248 minutes to complete. Start in Hesperia and ride to Santa Fe East road on the east side of the railroad tracks that pass under Main Street. Continue on Santa Fe East and it becomes Summit Valley Road. The pavement ends shortly after you pass by the Hesperia Airport, which I'm told has a good restaurant. The unpaved portion of Summit Valley road lasts about 4 or 5 miles. When it becomes paved again, it drops down to Highway 138 right across from the Summit Valley Country Store. Make a left onto Highway 138, heavily traveled and no shoulder, so watch out, and ride past Highway 173. Continue up the grade on Highway 138 then back down, pass the main Silverwood Lake entrance, and then up the next grade. Just before the road starts winding into the mountains, there is a Pilot Rock Conservation Camp turnoff on your left. Take this and stay to the right. This road is Miller Canyon road and will shortly take you to Dart Canyon road (2N36). Take 2N36 up and this is a pretty good climb. After a long climb, miserable in the summer or even when it's warm out, you will meet up with Pilot Rock road (2N33). Make a right onto 2N33. You will now be climbing again up to Pilot Rock. Go past the rock and then down, pass the sewage treatment plant after a few more miles and then you will be in forested land (Coulter Pine) and at the intersection of Highway 173 with 2N33. Make a left onto Hwy 173. After about 1 mile the pavement will end. Continue 7 more miles to where the pavement reappears. 1 more mile beyond that is the intersection of Hwy 173 with Arrowhead Lake Road. Make a right here and travel back into Hesperia.

This was A Nice ride, but it was pretty hot and steep going up 2N36 + I didn't have any food with me and that was not a good idea. For some reason, because I left from my house I planned this ride to be a "walk in the park" because when I left I didn't even know where I was going. It was not an easy ride.
Added on 01/08/1999 by TractorUp
This variation turns the ride into a 25.8 mile large loop that passes by Silverwood Lake. This took 167 minutes to complete. Instead of turning around at Pilot Rock, continue down Pilot Rock, avoiding the steep jeep trail that you will pass on your right. Pilot Rock road will eventually dump you out on the road that goes to the top of the Silverwood Lake dam. Make a left to go to the dam or a right and down to go to Highway 173. Take this well-traveled portion of Highway 173 with little to no shoulder back to your vehicle. The best part of this option is coming down from Pilot Rock road, it is relaxing and fast. The worst part is that you have to ride the highway and avoid getting hit to get back to your vehicle.
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