Hwy 190 Bike Climb - PJAMM Cycling

Hwy 190

CA, USA

Long peaceful climb into the Sequoia National Forest in the Southwestern Sierra Nevada Mountain Range.

Page Contributor(s): Bruce Hamilton, La Quinta, CA, USA; Stacy Topping, Tacoma, WA, USA

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Climb Summary


Cycling Highway 190 into the Sequoia National Forest - panoramic Sierras view from roadside

Cycling Highway 190 into the Sequoia National Forest, another US 100 Bike Climb.

22.4 miles gaining 7,371’ to 6,985’ elevation at 4.9%.

 

This climb can be done along with two other Top U.S. Climbs that are within eight miles of each other, specifically #20 Bear Creek Road and #112 Balch Park Road / YouTube.

Cycling Highway 190 into the Sequoia National Forest - straight portion of two-lane roadway on Highway 190

The bike climb begins just east of Springville on Highway 190.

Cycling Highway 190 into the Sequoia National Forest - NPS sign for Giant Sequoia National Monument

Enter Sequoia National Forest and National Monument in first mile.

This climb is at the very southwestern end of the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range.

Cycling Highway 190 into the Sequoia National Forest - views and signs along the first half of the climb, including elevation markers reading 4000 feet

Views along the first half of the climb.

Cycling Highway 190 into the Sequoia National Forest - water conduit in Sequoia National Park

    Cycling Highway 190 into the Sequoia National Forest - cyclists riding on two-lane highway road in the Sierras with no shoulder

Two lane road throughout, but no shoulder.  

The climb seemed safe the one time we rode it.

Cycling Highway 190 into the Sequoia National Forest - signs at climb's finish, including an elevation marker reading 6000 feet

Climb’s Finish.

Southern Sierra climber extraordinaire, Joey Galloway, writes of this bicycle climb:

"Hwy 190 is a long climb!  It should be 26 miles, from the bridge to Ponderosa, and 6,200 ft climbing.  The first 14 miles, from the bridge to Pierpoint Springs, is the tough part with quite a few kickers.  There is also a sustained section of around 5 miles @ 7% avg beginning at the power station.  Once reaching Camp Nelson the gradient drops to almost a false flat for the last 11-12 miles.  As with virtually all the climbs in Tulare County it starts in a desert-like setting, then around the 5,000 ft elevation mark it turns into an alpine setting.  Also, 190 is a very twisty, turny  ascent with plenty of switchbacks and blind corners.  Once I reach Ponderosa I like to pull into the restaurant and have a burger or two as reward for conquering this beast.  The food is quite good!"

     

Cycling Highway 190 into the Sequoia National Forest - PJAMM Cyclist Stacy Topping smiles on bike next to sign for End California Highway 190, climb's finish

End of the highway, end of the bike climb.

Thank you Stacy Topping.

We climbed this challenging ascent in July 2015 and add the following to Joey’s excellent summary:

  • We enter Sequoia National Forest in the first mile of the climb.
  •  We experienced the changing scenery referred to by Joey above.  An excellent summary of the landscape changes we encounter throughout the Southwestern Sierras is found at the National Park Services website.  In summary, we encounter the following vegetation/landscape zones as we climb through and above the Sierra foothills:
  • Start (foothills):  blue oak and brush (e.g. chaparral).
  • Lower to middle slope:  Mixed-conifer forest - ponderosa pine, incense-cedar, white fir, sugar pine.
  • Upper slope:  Red fir and lodgepole pine. Thick forest dominates the mountainsides as we climb up to and then past Pierpont/Camp Nelson (at mile 12.5, but the forested scenery begins a couple miles earlier).

We do not encounter the Giant Sequoias on this climb that we do on the Whitaker Forest (#19), Bear Creek (#21), Highway 21-245-180-198 (#43), or Balch Park (#97) climbs noted elsewhere on this site.  

  • The entrance to this climb is the pass into Long Canyon at about mile two (defined by a distinct sheer rock wall on the right) -- we pass through and then look back on this pass over the next 10 miles as it becomes smaller and smaller in the distance -- a reminder of the significant length of this ride as we ascend (see slideshow, above).

Cycling Highway 190 into the Sequoia National Forest - PJAMM Cyclist climbs on steep curve in roadway, Sierra setting

  • While we have not ridden on to Ponderosa to test Joey’s view of the hamburgers at the restaurant there, we did pull into the Pierpont Coffee Shop at mile 12.6 and can attest to the yummy apple pie and old-school coffee shop charm of this spot -- excellent!

Cycling Highway 190 into the Sequoia National Forest - road sign for Pierpoint Springs, parking lot, apple pie

Steepest ¼ and mile begin at mile 6 (12.1% and 9.3% respectively).