Cycling Waipio Road
Big Island, Hawaii
Cycle at a 19% average grade for about a mile.
This road is often (incorrectly) referred to as the steepest road in the US and world. Of the climbs we have recorded, Waipio has the steepest average for its entire climb of any climb over a half mile (in the category, its top dog). Several short stretches of roadway on other rides exceed Waipio’s 19%, but not for more than four-tenths of a mile.
Waipio Valley is at the northern end of the Island of Hawaii (Big Island), 50 miles from Hilo, and 65 miles from Kona. The one to 1½ hour trip to reach this brief climb is worth it -- this is an iconic and special bicycle climb. But you may wonder, what exactly makes it so special?
Note: As of March, 2022 this road is closed to visitors (including cyclists) for assessment and repair until further notice. Check the net to determine if it is open if you intend to ride it.
Waipio Road is very scenic:
The scenery is spectacular and this climb is fantastic: located on a crumbling, narrow road in a jungle setting with the Pacific Ocean visible for much of the climb.
Hi'ilawe Falls can be seen about 1 mile past the start of the climb.
I stopped at the stream about a mile past the climb start.
Next time I’ll take my shoes off and carry my bike across -- shoulda done that this time.
Great views along the climb . . .
. . . but, really, who’s enjoying the scenery on this beast!
Waipio’s roadway is unique:
The roadway along this climb is very rough and narrow, as evidenced in the photos below.
Downhill traffic must yield at the steepest sections to uphill traffic.
Waipio is the steepest road in the world:
No road in the world (longer than 400 yards) is steeper than Waipio Road. Because of its steep incline, only four wheel drive vehicles are permitted on the road.
This road could not be ridden if it were wet (and it is often wet in these parts). It is necessary to get out of the saddle on several 30%+ sections, and if the road were wet, there would just be no way to maintain traction on the rear wheel.
Made it. 👍👍
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