A large section of Angeles Crest Highway that was closed by winter storm damage reopens

LA CANADA-FLINTRIDGE, CA - MARCH 30 : In an aerial view, landslides along the Angeles Crest Highway (SR 2) continue to grow as the latest in a parade of storms that have created disasters across the state all year breaks up on March 30, 2023 near La Cañada-Flintridge, California. In striking contrast to the previous years of severe to extreme drought, more than a dozen atmospheric river storm events have steadily swept in from the Pacific Ocean bringing extreme weather, including huge surf, unprecedented rainfalls, widespread flooding and record mountain snowpack depths that have covered two story houses and kept many people snowbound without fresh supplies for weeks. The heavy rain and snowmelt have refilled most major reservoirs, which had nearly dried up in recent years, giving at least temporary relief from the worst drought in 1,200 years. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)
Landslides along Angeles Crest Highway near La Cañada Flintridge grew as a parade of storms created disasters across the state last winter. Above, a section in March. (David McNew / Getty Images)

After a months-long closure due to winter storm damage, a major stretch of Angeles Crest Highway has reopened, restoring public access to a variety of trails and mountain vistas along the scenic byway through the San Gabriel Mountains.

Following nearly eight months of road repair work, officials this week reopened a nearly 21-mile section of the highway, which winds through the Angeles National Forest, known for its stunning wooded landscapes and views.

The stretch from Upper Big Tujunga Canyon Road to Islip Saddle was repaved after a particularly wet winter — with storms that brought both rain and snow — had washed out a segment of the roadway, sweeping debris across the pavement, said California Department of Transportation spokesperson Marc Bischoff, who covers District 7, including Los Angeles County. He said crews removed loose boulders and debris from dangerous slopes and replaced a cable mesh protection system aimed at preventing further rock slides.

Restored access to the highway will allow the national forest to reopen its Chilao Visitor Center this weekend, located just off the previously closed roadway, said Angeles National Forest spokesperson Dana Dierkes.

“The reopening ... will provide visitors access to the high country in the Angeles National Forest," Dierkes said. She said visitors can can again access many trailheads and picnic areas previously inaccessible during repairs.

But ongoing repairs will keep other roadways temporarily shut in sections surrounding the reopening, according to transportation officials. Dierkes said many campgrounds in the area also remain closed.

Just south of the reopening, the highway remains closed from Mount Wilson Red Box Road to Upper Big Tujunga Canyon Road, where crews are still working on clearing a slide and installing slide protection features, Bischoff said. Drivers can use a detour on Angeles Forest Highway at Big Tujunga Canyon Road that reconnects with the highway.

Then, north of Islip Saddle until Vincent Gulch, the highway remains closed as crews work on slope reconstruction and installing retaining walls, Bischoff said.

Caltrans estimated that those stretches will remain closed into at least early 2024.

Also in the Angeles National Forest, crews continue working on San Gabriel Canyon Road, limiting daytime travelers to one-way traffic from Morris Dam to Falling Springs. Caltrans officials said that stretch is also still under repair from the "relentless" winter storms that washed out embankments, damaged drains, guardrails and a retaining wall.

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This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.