Gibraltar Road Bike Climb - PJAMM Cycling

Gibraltar Road


Challenging climb out of Santa Barbara with gorgeous Pacific Ocean views.

Explore this Climb

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Climb Summary

Cycling Gibraltar Road - photo of Gibraltar Road, Santa Barbara, Pacific Ocean, roadway, mountains

Cycling Gibraltar Road - Santa Barbara’s hardest bike climb.

Ride 9.9 miles gaining 4,633’ to 3,978’ elevation at 7.3% average grade.

California Top 10 Most Scenic Bike Climb

The views from Gibraltar are absolutely stunning . . . at any time of the day . . .

Cycling Gibraltar Road - aerial drone collage photo of sunrise

. . . sunrise (earliest photo center then clockwise from top left).

Aerial drone sphere photo at sunrise

Sunrise - view southeast towards Carpinteria . . .

. . . daytime, of course . . . and . . .

. . . sunset (earliest photo center then clockwise from top left).

Gibraltar Road to La Cumbre Peak is a very challenging climb that begins within the city limits of Santa Barbara, California.  Although the ride starts in the beautiful though populous city of Santa Barbara, we quickly climb into rural surroundings which offer exceptional views of the Pacific Ocean and Santa Barbara to the west (for most of the ride) and the Santa Ynez Mountain Range to the east (in the last couple of miles).  

Santa Barbara and Pacific Ocean cycling on E Camino Cielo    

Views south to Santa Barbara and the Pacific Ocean.

(One would think west but the view is actually south.)

Bicycle climb Gibraltar Road - Aerial drone photo of Santa Ynez mountains and E. Camino Cielo Road

Foreground is La Cumbre Peak and radio tower;

Background is Santa Ynez Mountain Range and Gibraltar Reservoir.

View southeast towards Carpinteria.

This is an excellent and challenging climb with spectacular views, and is highly recommended for those living in or visiting the Santa Barbara Area.  For those not shy about traveling to climb: the one-two punch of Gibraltar and Old San Marcos-Painted Cave Road-E. Camino Cielo is hard to beat.   East Camino Cielo is where both the Gibraltar and Painted Cave climbs finish, although there are 4.1 miles between the finish of each (488' of climbing and 835’ of descent from the Gibraltar to Painted Cave finishes).  If your legs can bear it, the out-and-back is well worth the effort to climb these two spectacular and beautiful routes, each exceptional in its own way.  

Cycling Gibraltar Road - aerial drone photo of Gibraltar Road and E. Camino Cielo Road - Santa Ynez Mountains in the background.

The locals refer to this as the Alp d’ Huez of Santa Barbara, or just plain “Gib.”  Beware that flies are a serious irritant towards the top in hot weather, and the descent is commonly quite cold as we drop down towards Santa Barbara.

I’ve always wondered why these no shooting signs are necessary so close to town . . .

Inset photo bottom left:  30# of lead bullets retrieved from this illegal shooting site in July, 2019

Left inset photo:  Las Padres Forest Watch

The climb tops out on La Cumbe Peak which is the highest point in Santa Barbara County. This climb has it all: views of the Pacific Ocean, views of mountains, and an overall challenging climb. It is one of the best climbs in Southern California and we recommend those nearby -- or those willing to travel -- check it out.

 Hop the gate, ride up the rough narrow path, past the radio tower and  . . .

Road to radio station and fire lookout on La Cumbre Peak

. . . ride up a service road/hiking path ¼ mile at 11% . . .


. . . past the old radio and fire watch tower and . . .

                                                                View of Pacific Ocean and Santa Barbara after climbing by bike to  La Cumbre Peak

. . . enjoy the spectacular view of Santa Barbara, the Pacific Ocean,

 and Channel Islands beyond.

Bicycle ride and climb Gibraltar Road - skateboarders passing cyclist - road, Santa Barbara and Pacific Ocean

On the way up, beware of cars and anything that could be coming down this steep descent.

Make sure to turn left at Angostura Pass at mile 8.5  where Gibraltar T’s into East  Camino Cielo -- we continue straight at this point to get the most climbing for our buck.  This climb ends 1.6 miles west on East Camino Cielo.  The views at the very top, over a gate and up a public path to the radio towers and abandoned fire lookout are breathtaking and by themselves worth the trek.



  • 2016 --  Stage 3:
  • Thousand Oaks > Gibraltar (mountain-top finish);
  • 103.8 miles 8,700’;
  •  Stage winner: Julian Alaphilippe (FRA).

2016 Gibraltar mountain-top finish

Stage 3 winner Julian Alaphilippe (FRA)


2016 Stage 3 route map.

  • 2018 -- Stage 2:  
  • Ventura > Gibraltar (mountain-top finish);
  • 98 miles;  
  • Stage winner:  Egan Bernal (COL);

Stage 2 Tour of California

Stage winner Egan Bernal in KOM time of 27’12”

Photo:  Santa Rosa Press Democrat (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

2018 Stage 2 route map -- May 14, 2018.

2018 Stage 2 profile

Gibraltar Road was also home to the 2018 and 2019 Hillclimb World Championships. The 2018 Championship was won by Phil Gaimon - see his video with commentary of the race here.

Legendary hill climber Phil Gaimon wins 2018 Worlds on Gibraltar.


Steepest ¼ mile begins at mile 1.4 (12%) and steepest mile at mile 1.3 (9.8%)

Roadway Surface and Traffic:  We’d give a nine of 10 for the first segment, and a five out of 10 for the last 1.3 miles.  Five miles on Gibraltar road are newly paved as of 2015.  The last mile is a bit rough, but very manageable.  The last 50 yards are up a paved footpath after we legally hop the fence (it’s just there to prevent motor vehicle traffic).  There is very little traffic on this route and it is cycle-safe as we pass several Share The Road signs posted along the climb.



PJAMM Cycling stayed at the Best Western Pepper Tree Inn on our Santa Barbara cycling trip.  This was a very nice and centrally located hotel with a restaurant and Bar next door, and we would recommend it.[1]


We also stayed at the less expensive Quality Inn and enjoyed our stay there - as of December, 2019, only $115 per night + an outstanding breakfast!


Top Southern California Road Bike Climbs - clockwise from top left to middle:

Nate Harrison Grade, San Diego; Gibraltar Road, Santa Barbara; Palomar Mountain, San Diego

Glendora Mountain Road, Los Angeles; Mt. Baldy, Los Angeles

That’s a Wrap!!

[1] We do not benefit at all from this endorsement and have no connection or affiliation with the hotel.