Steepest Gradient (%)
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Cycling Lake Sabrina
Ride 15.7 miles gaining 4,886’ at 5.8% average grade.
Visit our Owens Valley Top World Bike Climb Area page for more information on other climbs in this area.
Lake Sah-BRY-nuh, don’t call me suh-BREE-nuh (the locals may correct you if you mispronounce the name). Sadly, I keep forgetting, and, well, I keep getting corrected. 😧
Easterly view of Lake Sabrina.
Dam of the middle fork of Bishop Creek completed in 1908.
“A very big hill on the eastern slope of the Sierra Nevada, this one is fairly shallow over the first two miles, the grade steadily increasing up toward Lake Sabrina with big views down into the valley. Soon a big S curve indicates increasing grade on its upper end as you gain altitude. After the curve the road straightens a bit and again heads towards the mountains to continue over solid grade, the most extended stretch of continuous solid grade on the hill. Soon the slope goes up and down a bit as you head toward steep and scenic high mountain peaks. Several miles before you reach the South Lake junction (which you pass on the left just under 12 miles in) you again find more stout grade. Keep straight at the junction and after you pass the 8,000 foot mark the grade eases again and you soon reach the small community of Aspendell. Just past town the road gets steeper one last time up to a small descent. Climbing then resumes on a one-lane road and over a variable grade through a parch of trees before ending just above the namesake lake at a small parking area. Lake Sabrina is also one of the fastest descents in the United States.” (This quote is presented with the approval of John Summerson, from his book, The Complete Guide to Climbing by Bike in California, pg. 118.)
Lake Sabrina is one of the 10 Top 100 road bike climbs that begin in the Owens Valley on the eastern side of the Sierra Nevada mountain range in central-eastern California.
As with all Owens Valley climbs, we ride through Inyo National Forest much of the climb.
The climb begins gradually as you ride for four miles towards the eastern Sierras (which seemingly take forever to reach) at an average grade of 4%. The last 10 miles of the climb are at 7.1% (the 4.9-5.9 mile stretch is at 11% average grade). The entire climb follows Highway 168, although the final few miles are much more scenic than the first few. The first 11.7 miles of the climb are shared with Top 100 climb #25 South Lake.
First segment of the climb.
Highway 168, Bishop is the green patch top middle of photo.
Ride through a wide canyon the last half of the climb.
Inyo National Forest sign at mile 4.2.
The turn off to South Lake is at mile 11.8, stay straight four more miles to Lake Sabrina.
First 11.8 miles = 5.8% to elevation 7,970’.
Final 3.9 miles = 6.1% to 9,219’.
Highway ends ½ mile before the finish . . .
. . . but road is paved to the finish.
The fall colors in the Owens Valley are spectacular.
This is a small bridge over the middle fork of Bishop Creek near the finish.
Finish the climb at Sabrina Dam.
Traffic and Roadway Surface Report: The roadway surface is excellent and there is a good bike lane most of the way. Traffic, as can be seen in the YouTube video, travels by very fast and this is not a stretch of road for the faint of heart.
There is a cafe at the finish called the Lake Sabrina Boat Landing.
Steepest ¼ mile begins at mile 4.9 (14.2%) and the steepest mile begins at 4.7 (11.3%).