Shoemaker Canyon Road in CA is the Armageddon Highway

Located in Los Angeles County, in the US state of California, the Shoemaker Canyon Road is an aborted road. In the early days of the Cold War (1950s and 60s), the road was built (with convict labor), as an intended escape route if Los Angeles was attacked with nuclear weapons.

Shoemaker Canyon Road

How long is the Shoemaker Canyon Road in CA?

Starting at East Fork Road, the road is 7.08km (4,4 miles) long. It’s nicknamed the Road to Nowhere, Armageddon Highway and Convict Road. With two abandoned long tunnels, chaparral and nice canyon views, the dead-end road was the first phase of a projected 23-year effort to build a 2-lane highway up the formidably steep East Fork San Gabriel River canyon to as far as Angeles Crest Highway. Cold War era leaders determined Los Angeles residents needed an escape route through the San Gabriel Mountains in case of a nuclear attack.

When was the Shoemaker Canyon Road in CA built?

The construction work began in 1956 (by inmates from Sheriff’s Department detention camps), but only four miles was finished and work officially stopped in 1969. By the time the project was scrapped due to budget cuts and the road was abandoned. This well-graded dirt road with moderate grade penetrates several miles up the East Fork and then ends abruptly.

Can you drive the Shoemaker Canyon Road in CA?

Set high in the San Gabriel Mountains, today you can drive the first 1.8 miles of Shoemaker Canyon Road on pavement, then walk or mountain-bike the remaining graded-dirt section, going steadily uphill, to reach a pair of tunnels: 1.8 and 2.6 miles north of the closed gate. In the middle, the tunnels are quite dark, and some people might find it a little un-nerving. Don't do this in the hot midday sun, as there is virtually no shade except for the tunnel passages. The extreme weather of the area is a risk: heat on summers and winter storms. Located within the Angeles National Forest, above the city of Azusa, the road and its tunnels are featured on the Science Chanel's Mysteries of the Abandoned series.
Pic: Kevin Childree