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Scenic Archives - DrivingScene

Tag Archive | "Scenic"

Driving Road Review: Latigo Canyon

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Driving Road Review: Latigo Canyon

Posted on 29 October 2012 by Adam Kaslikowski

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Route: Latigo Canyon Rd North from PCH to S Kanan Dume Rd.

Total Length: 10.2 miles

Directions: Turn onto Latigo Canyon Rd from the PCH and follow until it ends at Kanan Dume Rd .

Total Rating: ★★★★☆

Let’s cut to the chase – Latigo Canyon is the best California canyon road we’ve ever driven on.  This is a high-precision “course” that requires full attention and shows you the worst and the best of your vehicle. Latigo is DrivingScene’s go-to test course for high performance cars and the canyon we pit our daily drivers against when we need to unwind. Close this browser and go drive it now.


Curves Rating: ★★★★★

The best canyon road for technical curves  we’ve found so far. Full stop. From hairpins to fast sweepers, Latigo has got you covered. It feels like the majority of curves are blind 2 lane switchbacks, which gives this route a complexity and repeatability I’ve found nowhere else. Given that the curves are tightly stacked upon each other, 2nd and 3rd gears are the weapons of choice here.


Police Presence Rating: ★★★★★

Unless this review sends hundreds of auto junkies up and down this route at high-speed, you’re gonna be pretty safe from prosecution here. Basically, there are very few places for a radar-trapper officer to hide and not enough traffic to justify the hours spent there.  The moral of the story is enjoy this road, don’t abuse it, and we can all continue to enjoy it at 10/10ths for some time to come.


Traffic Rating: ★★★☆☆

Traffic is fairly light throughout the canyon, but if you do run into another motorist you’re going to be behind them until they decide different. There are no overtaking areas or split lanes anywhere on this route. Fortunately the residents are quick to pull over and let you pass if they notice you charging up behind them.


Scenic Beauty Rating: ★★★★★

This is the consummate California canyon road. Stunning vistas, jutting canyon walls, green foliage and abundant wildlife. With few pull-off areas you have to enjoy the views while attempting to keep your sled on the road, but the quick glances are worth it. The canyon also features some fairly breathtaking houses mansions.


Population Rating: ★★☆☆☆

There are houses and small neighborhoods dotted throughout canyon. Because of this, you have to be conscious of other vehicles suddenly exiting or entering your lane of travel. There is also one particular corner where it is difficult to determine which path of a fork is the road and which is a house’s driveway. There is no extended section of Latigo Canyon that is free of houses – consider the entire route populated.


Speed Rating: ★★★★☆

Get ready to abuse your brakes, and boil your transmission, because even maintaining the posted speed limit is a serious challenge here. While the posted limit is low and there are very few straight sections that allow you to build up great speed, it’s not much of a concern here. Keep your lines and concentrate on hitting apexes and you’ll never want for more speed.


Safety Rating: ★★☆☆☆

The biggest danger on Latigo is either you or an oncoming vehicle overcooking their entrance speed and bleeding into the other lane right at the apex of a blind corner. The canyon is largely populated by these blind curves, especially the decreasing radius curves that catch drivers off-guard and create unsafe situations. Keep control of yourself and your vehicle and you’ll be relatively safe. Lastly, the road is populated by deer and rabbits once the sun sets, so unless you want to redecorate your hood/face with entrails drive aware.


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Driving Road Review: Pacific Coast Highway

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Driving Road Review: Pacific Coast Highway

Posted on 20 October 2012 by Adam Kaslikowski

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Route: Pacific Coast Highway from Santa Monica Pier to Point Mugu.

Total Length: 37.9 miles

Directions: Join the Pacific Coast Highway from Ocean Avenue in Santa Monica. Stay on the PCH for 37 miles until you reach Point Mugu. A turn around area is available at the highway junction just past Point Mugu outside of Oxnard .


Total Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

Tell someone you’re a driving enthusiast in California, and they will inevitably ask about driving the famous PCH. We’ve all seen movies and posters of fast cars next to ocean cliffs and though “me too!” Don’t bother. The LA to Oxnard section of the PCH is a crowded ticket trap with scant opportunity to enjoy those ocean views. There are so many better places to drive in this state, you are cheating yourself if you spend any of your gas on this section of tarmac.


Curves Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆

The PCH is not a driver’s road so much as a world famous scenic route. Any and all “curves” are high speed sweepers following the coastline. You’re not going to get any rush or push your car’s abilities on any of them.


Police Presence Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆

The Polizei are omnipresent and very happy to give you a ticket. Ask me how I know. Speeding is highly verboten on the PCH and there seems to be a couple of motorcycle cops speed-trapping every 2 miles or so. Behave yourself or pay the $250+ price like I did.


Traffic Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆

Heavy. Always heavy. You’re not going to find any time of day or any day of the week where this stretch of the PCH is anything resembling empty or even slightly non congested. Be prepared to move around traffic if you want to make any forward progress.


Scenic Beauty Rating: ★★★☆☆

There are some magical moments when the condos cease and opposing traffic clears just enough to allow peaks at the surf breaking on the beaches of Malibu. These moments are serene and wonderful and life affirming and over very quickly when the minivan in front of you slams on its brakes. This generally brings you back to the present.


Population Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

The road is alternately lined by ocean vistas and condos. Population is high near Santa Monica and Malibu, then thins out as you approach Point Mugu. Houses or not, traffic is always around.


Speed Rating: ★★☆☆☆

The PCH is a fairly fast road with normal highway speeds, but good luck maintaining that with all the traffic. And don’t be tempted to exceed the posted limit either. Stick to the posted MPH and the Sunday drivers and you’ll be traveling at a decent clip.


Safety Rating: ★★★★★

Only danger you face driving the PCH is getting into a fender bender. Guardrails and parked cars  protect you from going into the ocean and steep hills flank the other side of the road. Stay aware of other drivers, and you’ll be perfectly safe.

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Driving Road Review: Topanga Canyon Loop

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Driving Road Review: Topanga Canyon Loop

Posted on 17 September 2012 by Adam Kaslikowski

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Route: Old Topanga Canyon Road to Mulholland Dr. to North Topanga Canyon Blvd.

Total Length: 14.6 miles

Directions: Pacific Coast Highway to Topanga Canyon Blvd (4.3 miles). Left onto Old Topanga Canyon Road (7.4 miles). Right onto Mulholland Hwy (0.5 mile). Turn Right onto Topanga Canyon Blvd (6.7 miles). Rinse. Repeat.


Total Rating: ★★★☆☆

This route is a quintessential California mountain road, packed with tight curves, long straights, scrub brush, stunning vistas, and of course traffic. Nestled between Malibu and Woodland Hills, we jumped on off the PCH and just ran the loop over and over for a few hours.  I recommend this loop for lower speed cars/bikes – vehicles and pilots more worried about enjoying the journey than achieving outright speed.


Curves Rating: ★★★☆☆

Plenty of curves of all radiuses on Old Topanga, plus straights and long sweepers on North Topanga. Just great. Unfortunately many of the tight curves on Old are utterly blind and thus require fun killing caution or life killing insanity.


Police Presence Rating: ★★★★★

Didn’t see a one. Despite driving like a jackass, I was not hassled beyond getting honked at by one concerned citizen. Hopefully this holds all of the time.


Traffic Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Soccer moms and late model Accords abound on the second half. They will halt your progress and there is a big absence of passing areas. On my pass I ran into roughly one car every mile on Old Topanga, and was stuck behind a line of quick moving cars on North Topanga .


Scenic Beauty Rating: ★★★☆☆

Ocean views pop in and out, and on the latter half of the route you get long looks at the mountains and canyons of Southern California. And apparently Justin Bieber’s third house. Wish it was a little more green, but that’s just nitpicky.


Population Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Houses and small neighborhoods are dotted around the mountain, adding to the traffic load and the ever present threat that someone is going to pop out of that next driveway that joins the road.


Speed Rating: ★★★★☆

Traffic notwithstanding, I was never wanting for more speed. I generally stayed within the speed limit and found maintaining that through the twisties was challenging enough. The high speed second half of the loop is a nice release after staying in second for the majority of the first half.


Safety Rating: ★★★☆☆

Guardrails abound, but beyond are deep gorges you would not walk away from. The road itself is mostly 2 opposite lanes separated only by 2 solid yellow lines. Keep in your lanes and stay out of the gorges.

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