Hwy 33 to Pine Mountain Summit Bike Climb - PJAMM Cycling

Hwy 33 to Pine Mountain Summit

CA, USA

The longest bike climb in California.

Page Contributor(s): Dennis M, San Jose, CA, USA.

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Climb Summary


Cycling Highway 33 to Pine Creek Summit - bike parked next to sign for Los Padres National Forest

Cycling Highway 33 to Pine Creek Summit -- the longest bike climb in California.

Ride 33.3 miles gaining 6,710’ at 3.5% average grade.

Cycling Highway 33 to Pine Creek Summit  - photo collage,  bike parked next to sign for Los Padres National Forest, and next to sign for Pine Mountain Summit, bike parked on hillside overlooking road snaking up mountainside, PJAMM Cycling logo in corner

This climb is along Highway 33 for the first 27 miles.  The highway runs at 45 to 55 mph, but the ride felt safe to us.  The final six miles are along a fun and narrow remote paved roadway, completing the longest climb in California (and the sixth longest in the US).  

Note (warning?):  There is no water or any provisions for the last 30 miles of the ride.

The following ride summary by PJAMM’s Dennis M. of San Jose, California:

Cycling Highway 33 to Pine Creek Summit  - stretches of alpine roadway just past bridge over the Venture River

Climb begins as the road ramps up just past the bridge over the Ventura River north of Ojai.

The climb begins just north of Ojai (pop. 7,461 in 2010; nickname Shangri-La) in Ventura County by riding north up Highway 33. We enter the Los Padres National Forest (1,900,800 acres, est. 1936) and in the first mile of the climb ride in the San Emigdio Mountains of the Pacific Coast Range as we climb towards Pine Mountain Summit on Highway 33.

Cycling Highway 33 to Pine Creek Summit  - PJAMM Adventure app showing climb gradient and route

PJAMM Adventure App showing gradient and route progress during our climb.

Cycling Highway 33 to Pine Creek Summit -bike parked in front of tunnel at mile 2.6, aerial view of tunnel

Tunnel at mile 2.6

There are two short tunnels in the first four miles of the climb.

Cycling Highway 33 to Pine Creek Summit - aerial drone footage of NPS Sign for Los Padres National Forest and surrounding hillsides

Enter the national forest at mile three.

Cycling Highway 33 to Pine Creek Summit  - second tunnel of climb

Water wall and tunnel #2 at mile 3.4.

 Cycling Highway 33 to Pine Creek Summit  - Wheeler Gorge Visitor Center

Visit the Wheeler Gorge Visitor Center at mile 3.7.

Cycling Highway 33 to Pine Creek Summit  - informational wildlife signs at visitor center

Cycling Highway 33 to Pine Creek Summit - inside of Wheeler Gorge visitor's center

Cycling Highway 33 to Pine Creek Summit - fossil and bone displays at visitor's center

Cycling Highway 33 to Pine Creek Summit  - bike parked against row of mailboxes on climb

Cycling Highway 33 to Pine Creek Summit  - outside and seating area at Pine Mountain Inn

Pine Mountain Inn at mile 23.4 -- closed as of December 2020.

Built between 1938 and 1940.

The Pine Mountain Inn was purchased by Tom and Janet Wolf in 1976 and operated it as a restaurant and bar for 25 years until it was closed due to Tom’s heart attack and later prevented from reopening because it was a “non-conforming use” when the Wolf’s attempted to reopen in 2007.

Cycling Highway 33 to Pine Creek Summit  - rock formations and desert highlands landscape on lower segment of climb, signs for Taft, Rose Valley

Brush and some rock formations at the lower segment of the climb.

Cycling Highway 33 to Pine Creek Summit  - aerial view of large hairpin turns in roadway at approximately mile nine

Aerial view of two giant hairpins, ~mile 9.

The first 27 miles of the climb wind from Ojai up through Los Padres National Forest with wide shoulders and a gradual grade. You reach Pine Mountain Summit, and then take a single lane access road to Reyes Peak (which ends in a dirt road).

Cycling Highway 33 to Pine Creek Summit - Pine Mountain Ridge Road, bike parked on hillside, alpine landscape

Top left & center photo:

Turn onto the very narrow and remote Pine Mountain Ridge Road at mile 30.

The final six miles of the climb average 6.5%. At about a mile up Pine Mountain Ridge Road we begin the steepest mile of the climb at 11% average grade.

Cycling Highway 33 to Pine Creek Summit - climb summit, bike parked next to sign for Reyes Peak Trail, bike parked on hillside overlooking mountain range

Finish 33 miles later at 7,140’.

The upper steep section was dirty and single lane, but seems to have been paved in the past five years or so -- some other online ride reports said it was pretty terrible but I did not find it so. You should also be cognizant of two-way traffic. Pine Mountain Ridge Road is a true single lane road -- nice bike path, narrow road.

PJAMM Note:  The road was paved and in excellent condition, albeit with some roadway debris, as of December 2020.

Cycling Highway 33 to Pine Creek Summit - parking options in Ojai before beginning of climb start, sign for Park and Ride

Park in Ojai five miles southeast of climb start.