Mineral King Road Bike Climb - PJAMM Cycling




Mineral King Road

CA, USA

Very tough climb on narrow rough road into Sequoia National Park

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

Cycling Mineral King Road

California, USA

Cycling Mineral King Road - this is a very difficult bike climb in the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range that enters Sequoia National Park. During the last few miles of the climb we encounter magnificent Sequoia Giant Redwoods. Other climbs within a 25 mile straight-line radius of the start of this climb are Sequoia - Hwy 198 (General's Highway), Whittaker Forest, Hwy 21-245-180-198, Balch Park Road, Bear Creek Road, and Hwy 190. Access these other climbs by clicking the "Routes in Area" button below or the climb card above right.


Climb Summary

Cycling Mineral King Road - Sierra Mountains and roadway

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

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

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

Start 2 miles south of Hwy 198 climb.

    Mining Tracks on Mineral King Road bike climb.

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

 The Strava Segment  for this climb involves about 3 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.

Below are excellent summaries from Bart Niechwiej of Fremont and Southwestern climbing god Joey Galloway.  We made this climb on July 7, 2015, foolishly after tackling another Top 50 Climb (Hwy 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 -- averages between June-September range from 90 to 97 -- 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 lulled 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!
  • There were two dirt sections as of July, 2015 - the first about two miles from Silver City at very roughly Mile 19, and about ¼ mile at 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.
  • Bart is correct, the descent is devilish. Be very careful on this one.
  • 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 WOW, come for the ride, stay for the pie, is all we can say. VERY good stuff!

East Fork of Kaweah River

Kaweah River Bridge on the Mineral King Road bicycle climb. 

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.

Enter the park at mile 10

IMG_1773.JPG   

 Sequoia National Park entrance booth and sign while climbing by bike on Mineral King Road

I just don’t think an RV’s gonna fit . .

Winding Road sign on Mineral King Road in Sequoia National Park   

   Biking on Mineral King Road - rock and narrow road

The sequoia forest is SO beautiful!

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

   Cabin on Mineral King Road during bike ride.

Steepest ¼ mile begins at mile 10 (13.7%) and mile at 9.2 miles (12.2%)

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 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:  We rate this a 4 on a 10 scale overall. First part is okay (6 rating), but the last half is bad (3 rating).  There is minimal traffic along the way and this is a safe ascent but treacherous descent.