"There are so many great climbs but there is so little time.........."

How to rank climbs?  I don't have a clue. Here are some of my favorites. Unfortunately some of the best climbs have the worst descents. Whitney Portal is a good example. The asphalt is extremely rough making the steep descent treacherous and very uncomfortable. The climb and its views however are spectacular.

  • Horse Shoe Meadows Rd, 5600 ft in 19.6 miles. Prominent switchbacks all the way to the top, easily seen from  Hwy 395. Take Whitney Portal Rd at Lone Pine and after 3 miles turn left on Horse Shoe Meadows Rd. Long, gradual climb to the first switchback. After the first turn the climbing starts in earnest with sweeping views of Owens Valley as well as the mountains. Good asphalt. Steady 300ft to 400 ft gain per mile. Longer climb but less steep as compared to Whitney Portal or Onion Valley Rd. First summit at elevation 9600 after 4900 ft of climbing. Fast descent followed by another 700ft climb to New Army Pass staging area at elevation 10060. BTW there is no water at the summit. You have to climb another 240 ft back out, so avoid the BONK!


  • Whitney Portal, 4330 ft in 11.6 miles. Stunning views of Owens Valley. The last 2000 vertical feet are the hardest. Usually VERY hot at the bottom, cool to cold at the top. Take at least 3 large water bottles. At the portal, there is a shop selling drinks and ice cream .

  • Onion Valley Rd, 5100ft in 12.8 miles. Numerous switchbacks into Onion Valley. More difficult climb than Horse Shoe Meadows. Do this climb early in the day to avoid VERY strong headwinds nearing the summit. The elevation at the summit is 9200ft. There is water, but I don't know if it is safe to drink. Watch out for rattle snakes and three nasty cattle grates. Take Market Street out of Independence on Hwy 395.

  • Towne Pass, 3320 ft in 11.4 miles from turnoff at Panamint Valley Rd. Another gut buster, but well worth the suffering. I have climbed it any time day or night in all kind of conditions. During the summer, this is a very difficult climb due to extreme heat, 110 plus and often head winds. The best time to climb is 2 hours prior to sunset. At night one gets rewarded with absolute quiet near the top, the climb gets really eerie with full moon.

  • Towne Pass from Stove Pipe Wells, 4710 ft in 17 miles. Easy climb, never gets as steep as the climb from Panamint Valley. It's long and HOT. Best way to do this climb is to park your car at the Wild Rose turnoff, descend to Stove Pipe and turn around to start the climb. After 2000ft of climbing you "water up" at Wild Rose.

  • Fort Ross, Northern California. One of the many climbs in the Terrible Two, 1300 ft in 2.4 miles. The climb even feels steeper due to the narrow road lined with, magnificent, tall trees. Part of the road never receives direct sunlight resulting in wet somewhat slippery asphalt. This makes for a tricky descent. A must. Bring your triple!

  • Ebbett's Pass, 2870 ft in 13.3 miles. Part of the Markleeville "Deathride". Superb scenery, steep climb near the end. Beyond the pass the climb can continue to Mosquito Lake. Short steep climb on narrow road to the lake. Very picturesque.

  • Salsberry Pass, 3330 ft in 15.9 miles. I have a love and hate relationship with this climb out of Death Valley towards Shoshone. The climb seems to go on forever, especially at night. Despite having climbed this Pass at least 20 times, during the last Furnace Creek 508 I could have sworn  I got to the summit three times before  actually reaching it. Nevertheless this is a great climb with a steady 5% grade, no traffic and magnificent scenery, especially on the descent.

  • Breckenridge, probably about 7000ft continuous climb, from hot flats around Bakersfield to the summit of Breckenridge Mountain about 7500ft. There is no water at the top ( there are some camp areas but without water ). I recommend making the descent to Caliente- Bodfish Rd for a visit to a nice trading post for water etc. Steep climb back. Total mileage is about 79 miles with 10750 ft of climbing. Riding time 6 1/2 hrs.

  • Glendora Mountain / Ridge Road to Mt. Baldy Ski lifts, about 6000 ft in about 25 miles. Nice climb. Its main attraction is its proximity to LA. Best way to get there from the 210 Fwy going East, take the last off ramp: Lone hill. Go left under the freeway, after a couple of intersections, make a left on Foothill and then right on Valley Center and follow the "bicycle route" signs.

  • Highway 74 from Palm Desert to Santa Rosa Summit, about 4500 ft. I like this climb because it is HOT, but cools down quickly to the top. Great views of Palm Springs, San Jacinto Mountains and the little San Bernadino Mountains, Joshua Tree, etc. Trading post near the top.

  • Mt. Lemmon, Tucson, Arizona. 6810 ft in about 33 miles. Beautiful climb starts in between the giant Saguaro cacti and ends in an Alpine village. The top is at 8800 ft and gets pretty cold.

Page under construction!

Peter the penguin says...


"I'm still building this page. I'm going as fast as I can, but I've only got little legs, so it might take some time!"












Hit Counter