Cycling Humboldt Mountain
Ride 4 miles gaining 1,680’ at 8.1% average grade.
Thank you to PJAMM contributor Samuel Lyons of Tempe, Arizona for his contributions to this climb page.
This climb is in the Sonora Desert with brush and dry grass as your scenery. We climb towards an FAA radar dome situated at the climb’s finish. This is one of the most difficult bike climbs in the Phoenix-Scottsdale area. This bike climb is entirely within the Tonto National Forest, the largest of six national forests in Arizona (and the fifth largest in the US), consisting of 2,873,200 acres and established in 1905.
Though its less than 30 minutes from the Phoenix area and in Tonto National Forest, Humboldt Mountain is a very remote climb. Take precautions and be prepared to not see anyone else the entire day.
The last five miles of road getting to the start of the climb is mostly dirt and pretty bumpy -- all wheel drive is useful but not needed, and this portion is most likely only rideable on a gravel or mountain bike. The actual climb is completely paved.
Rough going at times.
There’s little parking at the start of the climb, but there are several areas to pull straight off the road and park. Even on an October Saturday morning there isn’t much competition for these spots. The grade is generally steep throughout, with one brief descent at mile two, and the steepest ½ mile at 11% from mile 1.2 to 1.7.
Park here to start.
This is a very narrow road with traffic going both directions — although we saw only one other car on the whole ride, the road is around eight feet wide the entire climb, leaving very little room for passing. Play it safe, especially on the descent, which can easily get fast.
Narrow two lane road.
View back towards Phoenix as we climb.
Road is generally in good shape, but beware the gravel while descending near the top.
No shortage of beautiful views of the Sonora Desert.
You will have wonderful 360 degree unobstructed views from the top of the climb, from which you can see surrounding mountain peaks (including Quien Sabe and Cedar Mountain) as well as the Verde River and Horseshoe Reservoir to the northeast. The Phoenix Valley is also visible to the southwest from the top -- Camelback Mountain and Papago Park Butte in the Phoenix Valley are circled in the photos below.
Top of climb
Air traffic radar dome (left) and Humboldt Mountain Lookout (right) - built in 1958.
Horseshoe Reservoir as seen to the northeast at the top of the climb.