Mineral King Road Bike Climb - PJAMM Cycling

24.4 mi
7,092 ft
5.2 %


Page Contributor(s): Dan Razum, Campbell, California


"Mineral King is a very long, twisty and scenic climb up into the high country along one of the most narrow and tortuous roads the author has ever seen. It is along a very variable grade as well. It has steep sections near the start but soon settles down as the route heads inland along a ridge and then enters a scenic canyon. Around 6.5 miles in you cross a bridge over a small river and you remain on this side of the drainage for the remainder of the ascent. Here the road gets very narrow as it follows the ridge line uphill through thick brush. There are multiple tight and blind turns along the way on this stretch along with a few double digit grade sections (and a few descents and cattle guards)..." (This quote is presented with the approval of John Summerson, from his book, The Complete Guide to Climbing (by Bike) in California p. 158.)
While the average grade of 5.1% for this 24 mile climb is impressive, the magnitude of this ride is much more appreciated when we remove descents from the gradient formula which increases the average grade to a rugged 6.5%.  3.6 miles (14.9%) of the climb is at an average grade of 10-15%, 0.4 miles (1.5%) are at 15-20%, and a brief portion of the climb is at ≥20%.  The steepest quarter-mile on the climb is 13.7%, and steepest mile is 12.1%.

See more details and tools regarding this climb's grade via the “Profile Tool” button.
Roadway: As of 2019 much of the roadway was in poor condition.  The road is very narrow, oftentimes barely two lanes and there is no center stripe, although in this remote area, none is needed.

Traffic:  Minimal.

Parking:  Park at or near the start of the climb - Map; Street View

Fee:  Paying your National Park entrance fee is on the honor system at mile 10.3.
Bike:  Although the road is very rough and bumpy, we have done it both times without trouble on a road bike with 25mm (28mm on the second round) tires. The last few miles past Silver City are dirt and gravel but manageable on road bike. 

Provisions:  None until the end and boy, then some!  Be sure to stop at the Silver City Store which has a grill and bakery. 
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.
We stayed in Visalia on the two trips we took to this area to do the Kings Canyon/Sequoia NP climbs (PJAMM climb pages: Kings Canyon National ParkSequoia National Park). However, if you are just there for Mineral King and/or Highway 198 (General's Highway) consider staying in Three Rivers near the start of each of those climbs.  Both Visalia and Three Rivers have options for vacation rentals as well.

From Three Rivers, it is just 5 miles to the entrance to Sequoia National Park.  If you ride General's Highway (or just wish to visit) be sure to visit (a) General Sherman Tree (biggest tree by volume in the world; Google Map + Review), (b) Giant Forest Museum (Google Map + Reviews)  and (c) do the short hike to Moro Rock (Google Map + Reviews). 



Difficulty: Strenuous



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Sequoia and Kings Canyon
United States (CA)
11 POIs


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Jun 1, 2023
difficulty: Strenuous
scenery: 5
traffic: 5
road: 2
Jun 1, 2023
scenery: 5
traffic: 5
road: 2
Rode Mineral King in May 2020. Due to COVID and gate still being closed for winter the road was virtually empty. A few Park vehicles and a car or two going to private cabins. It’s a very long climb and for much of it, you can see where you are heading, far in the distance. Started in Three Rivers at 9 AM; 60 deg. By 10:30 it was well into the 80s and very exposed. Was about 4 hours riding time, not photo stops to reach the top. I carried 2.5 L of water with me to the top as I didn’t want to stop. Drank almost all of it and was happy to use my SteriPen and refill with fresh cold mountain stream water. Descent was quite technical due to the high speed and poor road quality. I am a fast descender but still took almost 1:15 to return to the bottom where it was mid 90s, at least. Would recommend this ride when the road is closed to traffic as it would be sketchy with frequent cars. Highly recommended to anyone looking for an adventure and to bag a 7,000’ climb.
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Cycling Mineral King Road - Sierra Mountains and roadway

Cycling Mineral King Road: A Top 25 US road bike climb in scenic Sequoia National Park.

California Top 10 Most Epic Climb.

The Mineral King Road bike climb is very close in proximity to two other Top 100 US Climbs in California -- Highway 198 (1.5 miles away), and  Highway 21-245-180-198 (22 miles away). You’ll find it in southern Sequoia National Park in the Central Sierra Nevada Mountain Range.  Keep in mind that this is an exceptionally difficult climb.

Beginning of the Mineral King bike climb - roadway sign for Mineral King Road.

Start two miles south of the Highway 198 climb.

    Mining Tracks on Mineral King Road bike climb.

Mining tracks... “Mineral” King... Ahhhh, I get it!

Mining Tracks on Mineral King Road bike climb.

Below are excellent summaries from Dan Razum of Campbell, CA; Bart Niechwiej of Fremont, CA; and Southwestern climbing machine Joey Galloway.  We made this climb on July 7, 2015, foolishly after tackling another Top 50 Climb (Highway 198).  We do not have much more to add to the thorough summaries below, but would point out the following:

  • Bring plenty of liquids, especially on hot days -- average temperatures between June and September range from 90°F to 97°F -- and food because this climb will take longer than your average 20 mile ascent.
  • There are many 14-18% grades throughout the Mineral King Road bike climb. Do not be fooled into a sense that this will be a simple climb because its “average” grade is 5.7%. There are many long ups and slight downs to this climb and there are many (not just “a couple” or “a few”) very steep 100-400 yard segments throughout.  From a subjective standpoint, this is a Top 20 climb. It sucks the life out of the legs!

Cabin on Mineral King Road during bike ride. 

  • There were two dirt sections as of July 2015, the first being about two miles from Silver City at very roughly Mile 19, and the second at about a quarter mile before the end of the climb.  Both sections are manageable on a road bike, at least with 28mm tires. The second section is steeper at 8% grade.
  • As Bart mentions below, the descent is devilish. Be very careful on this one.  If possible, have vehicle support to drive you down the mountain.
  • There is a cafe and modest store at Silver City.  The grill was not open when we arrived late in the day, but there was homemade pie, and all we can say is “come for the ride, stay for the pie”!

Kaweah River Bridge on the Mineral King Road bicycle climb. 

East Fork of Kaweah River.

The Kaweah River Bridge is at mile 6.6

18.3 miles at 5.5% to go from here.

    Kaweah River Bridge sign seen while bicycling Mineral King Road.

A creek runs over perfectly formed holes in the rock at mile 10.3.

For the life of us, we cannot figure these out . . .


Enter the park at mile 9.4.

Riding bike  - bicycle inside Giant Sequoias on Mineral King Road - 

   Cabin on Mineral King Road during bike ride.

Cabin on Mineral King Road during bike ride.

Inside the cabin.

Cabin on Mineral King Road during bike ride.

We strongly recommend eating at the Silver City Store at Mile 21.

Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Parks

Photo - from upper left clockwise:

Bear Creek; Mineral King; Hwy 198; Whitaker Forest; 

The Strava Segment  for this climb involves about three miles of gravel which we are assured by a Strava member is manageable on a road bike. We only went to Silver City when we climbed Mineral King in July 2015.

May, 2018 update submitted by Dan Razum (Campbell, CA):

  • Dirt sections:  There are 3 dirt sections.  The first section starts at mile 19.7 and is ½ mile long.  It isn’t too bad, you can get through it with a road bike.  The second dirt section begins just after Silver City, it is one mile long.  Most of it is ok, but there is a flat area near the end which contains deep sand, about 100 meters. It is deceptive, it looks ok but the sand will catch your wheels, you probably need to walk the bike in this area.  The third dirt section is at the end. The final ¾ mile (after Mineral King Ranger Station) is a mixture of dirt and pavement, including a particularly nasty section ¼ mile long, not rideable on a road bike.  The 3rd dirt section looked freshly graded by heavy machinery, perhaps a week or two prior, with large rocks and loose dirt mixed together, which is why it was not rideable.
  • Entrance fee to Sequoia National Park is now $15 for cyclists (applicable to all entrances to Sequoia/Kings Canyon Parks).  You can still use an Annual Pass (if you have one) to waive the entrance fee.
  • There is currently road construction on General’s Highway in Sequoia National Park, scheduled to run throughout 2018.  According to the construction crew, after this construction is finished they will repave Mineral King road, including the dirt sections. So perhaps in 2020 Mineral King will be fully repaved, with no dirt sections.  We can hope!
  • The current road condition is very poor the first few miles (2 out of 10), poor the next few miles (4 out of 10) and ok the rest of the way (5 out of 10, excluding the dirt sections, obviously).
  • As mentioned elsewhere, this ride is a killer! It will take a long time if you’re a normal mortal, not a gifted climber.  I managed it in 4 hours 27 min, including walking time in the dirt.  Descent took over 3 hours, including stopping for pictures.  Straight descend, without stops, would probably take me 2 hours 15 min. The descent is treacherous, be careful.

An exceptional summary from PJAMM contributor  Bart Niechwiej's Fremont, CA:  

This climb was on my bucket list for a long time. It is one of the most difficult climbs in California, not because of the elevation gain (1975m), but because it constantly undulates between -3% and 20% grades over 40km. There are several steep ramps above 15% and the road looks like it hasn’t been repaved in 50 years or so — the pavement is in bad shape. To make it more difficult, the last 10km has two sections of dirt (or actually well packed sand) with grades around 12%. There are also 3 cattle guards.  I drove from the Bay Area and arrived at 9:15am. It was already warm (around 30C) and quickly unpacked my bike and got ready. I was planning to ride in Z2 (which is around 210W), as I was planning to do another HC climb after this one — The Big Sequoia. ​The first 10km was pretty nice. The road wasn’t too steep (maybe 12% max) with a few short descents, next to a long aqueduct which disappeared as soon as I crossed a bridge over Kaweah River. This is where the most difficult climb began and lasted until km 30.  Around 18km, there was a pay station and the road made a sharp left turn exposing gorgeous panorama of the High Sierras, still going up over several steep sections. While the first part of the climb was pretty shaded, the part from the pay station was very exposed and it was already way too hot. At some point, I rode into melting tar and lost traction! Thankfully, after a few more corners, I finally entered a flat section, with gigantic sequoias and it was actually quite enjoyable. Well, not until I hit two dirt sections. The first one wasn’t too bad, I managed to climb at slow speed in well packed sand. However, the next section was over 12% and sand wasn’t as packed as before. In one of the steeper ramps, my front wheel hit a soft patch of sand and I had to walk the remaining part of the ramp. The last 5km was very nice. The road went under tree covers, next to a few cabins, a ranger station and two campgrounds. The road ended after a short, but steep climb in a small parking lot surrounded by a few trails. The view was gorgeous! The descent was pretty technical, but I was going very slow and was taking pictures. At one point, I stopped to cool down in a super cold stream. What a relief :) As I descended down the road, the temperature was going up, hitting 46C at the base. At this point, I was way too overheated and decided to skip the second climb. Regarding my gear: I rode a road bike with 25mm tires and 34T/32T gearing. I think it would be painful to ride on 23mm — the descent was pretty sketchy, especially the dirt sections. I had to 24oz bottles of Gatorade and one extra bottle of water. It was just about right. I also ate 6 gels. My power was in expected range, I didn’t feel tired except for the heat, which made me slow down significantly on the descent. Moreover, it got pretty hot on the way down and the descent was actually much more difficult than I anticipated. My goal was to do the climb in 3h, but it took me 11 extra minutes, which I lost trying to maintain traction in sand :)​"

Climber extraordinaire Joey Galloway (1,100,000+ feet of climbing as of 2014) writes:

I finally did the climb for the first time last month.  Always been told it's too sketchy to do on road bike because the road is horrible, narrow, and very steep.  It's right in my backyard, so just went for it.  I must say it is the most difficult climb I've ever done, in fact the only HC climb that I've never averaged double digit speeds on.  Only at 9.1 mph right now for the full 21 miles.  There is an 11 mile section from the Kaweah River Bridge to Atwell Mill where the climbing is totally out of control.  You get short breaks here and there, descending or flat, but when you're climbing it's 12-18%.  I've done the climbs on the east side of the Sierra's and Mineral King even trumps those.  It's just brutal...

Roadway Surface and Traffic Report:  We rate this a four out of 10 overall. The first part is okay (six rating), but the last half is bad (three rating).  There is minimal traffic along the way and this is a safe ascent but treacherous descent.

That’s a wrap!