Apex from Hedley Bike Climb - PJAMM Cycling

9.4
FIETS
13.1 mi
DISTANCE
4,475 ft
GAINED
6.4 %
AVG. GRADE

FULL CLIMB STATS

Page Contributor(s): Jos Beckers, New Westminster, BC, CAN

INTRO

Cycling Apex from Hedley - this is one of the great bike climbs of Canada - it is all gravel but manageable on a road bike.  This is the backside of Apex from Penticton.
Average grade is 6.4% (7% climb only).  55% of the climb is at 5-10% and 15% is at 10-15%.  The steepest 500 meters is 11.3% and steepest two kilometers 10.1%.

See more details and tools regarding this climb's grade via the “Profile Tool” button.

Roadway:  Gravel but manageable on road bike.  Larger tires are recommended.

Traffic:  Minimal. 

Parking:  On the side of the road at the start of the climb - MapStreet View
Provisions:  There is no place to get food or water on the climb.  There is a store in Hedley three kilometers north of the start (MapStreet View) and possibly at the Gunbarrel Saloon six kilometers past the finish (Map). 

Gear:  This climb is all gravel so a gravel bike is recommended although ride can be done on a road bike.  If you use a road bike, we recommend at least 28mm or bigger tires. 
Before heading out on any cycling adventure check out our Things to Bring on a Cycling Trip and use our interactive check list to ensure you don't forget anything.
A great out and back would be this climb + Apex from Penticton - 111 kilometers and 3,217 meters (Map).

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CLIMB SUMMARY

Cycling Apex from Hedley

Ride 21.1 km to 1,876m gaining 1,357m at 6.4% average grade.

This gorgeous Canadian bike climb is located 320 km east of Vancouver at the edge of the Northern Cascades and the Intermontaine Belt (a physiogeological region in the Pacific Northwest).  The climb is named after Apex Mountain which is located in the BC interior west of Penticton.  

Thanks much to Jos Beckers, Vancouver, BC, CAN for his this write up and all the photographs on for this climb.

Hedley-Nickle Plate Climb, British Columbia - Climbed by Jos Beckers and Matt Church of the Fraser River Fuggitivi cycling club (New Westminster, BC) on July 21, 2018


The second ranked gravel climb on this page after McBride Peak, the Hedley- Nickle Plate climb is also known as the “APEX, the hard way!” segment on Strava.  As of August 2018 some 50 attempts had been recorded for the climb with climbing times ranging from 1hr 45 mins to over 3.5 hours. Given the number of attempts we were surprised this iconic climb wasn’t listed on PJAMM cycling, so here it is.

Cycling Hedley to Apex - cyclist on road, mountains in front

Start of the climb.


The entire climb is dirt and rock, mostly very well graded but with some looser segments around rock outcrops after the initial stitchback sections.  A gravel or cyclocross type bike is recommended for this climb although certainly the climb is doable with a properly equipped and geared road bike. One of us used a Specialized Roubaix with a compact chainring (34t) and 32 cassette and lightly treaded tires, the other a similarly equipped Giant TCX cross bike.  Puncture resistant rubber is important on this climb given the sharp rocks and gravel.


The initial part of the climb is steepest and characterized by many switchbacks.

Hedley to Apex bike climb - cyclist on hairpin

Cyclist coming up the hairpins.

On the harder packed and rocky sections it is reasonably possible to stand and power up the grade but these sections are few and far between and interspersed with looser but well graded gravel. The entire bottom part of the climb is characterized by great views of the Similkameen Valley, both west and east. At the end of the switchback sections there is a rocky outcrop which overlooks the part of the climb just travelled.

Climbing Hedley to Apex by bike - view of hairpins, meadow and lake

View down of the hairpins.

Beyond that the road conditions worsen temporarily with several loose sections around rock outcrops. Once entering the forest the road conditions improve again and the gradient slackens. At the end of the forest section you will enter the alpine and there are once again great views to be had.

Bicycle climb of Hedley to Apex - gravel road and lake

Entering the Alpine section of the climb.

The gradient also continues to slacken. Once you reach the former Barrick Nickle-Plate mine you will have almost made it, only a couple more kilometers of continually better graded road and easy gradients to be tackled. The gentle summit is near Nickle Plate lake.

Bicycle ride Hedley to Apex, gravel road border by pine trees

Summit

 To your right you will see a cemetery with several unmarked graves associated with former mining operations. From here the road becomes undulating and will subsequently start descending towards APEX passing the Nickle Plate cross-country ski area along the way. If descending the paved road from APEX towards either Penticton or Green Mountain Road, watch out for those huge cattle guards on the straights and loose gravel in the switchback turns.


The climb has a southern exposure which can make it very hot in summer. Given the climbing time and remoteness of the area, make sure to bring sufficient hydration and nutrition. While we came across a handful of cars and one motorcyclist during our longish ascent, once leaving Hwy 3 behind, you may not encounter a single soul until hitting the APEX ski resort, which is mostly deserted in summer.

The two of us made the mistake of not refueling in Hedley after tackling the 30 km headwind and uphill section from Keremeos to the start of the climb (and after tackling the Fairview gravel climb between Oliver and Keremeos before that). We ended up spending much more time on the climb than needed, and most of that mid-day time somewhat undernourished (gels and cliff bars only take you so far) and having to manage our water supply. We were lucky enough to find a functioning water hose on the side of the deserted APEX Mountain Inn. Proper nutrition wasn’t had until much later, after rejoining Hwy 3a. The pie at the Twin Lakes grocery store and gas station tasted awesome but lunch at 4:30pm was a little late for our liking. From there on, if like us you started in Osoyoos, the long descent through the White Lake Grasslands Protected Area with gradients that neither require pedaling or braking, is about as awesome as cycling gets.