The Corkscrew Bike Climb - PJAMM Cycling

The Corkscrew


Remote climb in the Tahoe National Forest - Blocked by landslide as of July, 2019.

Page Contributor(s): Cal Erdman, Sacramento, CA, USA; Dan Razum, Campbell, CA, USA; John Berude, Berkely, CA, USA

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Climb Summary

Cycling the Corkscrew . . . if you dare . . . .

In 2018,  our friend from Campbell CA, Dan Razum reported of Corkscrew:

“I checked out The Corkscrew ride in July 2019 and it is well and true closed from the landslide.  I took some pictures of the slide, I can send to you if you want.  I don't think the climb will ever open again, it is a major slide and the road is so remote that it will probably never be cleared.  It is totally unpassable, can't even be hiked, there is a lot of scree.”

Left photo - road can barely be seen.

. . . but, WAIT . . . then there is adventurer extraordinaire John Berude, Berkeley, CA:

Note:  If you do not want to John Berude It,  you can access the climb by doing Mosquito Ridge climb (Map of just the Mosquito Ridge climb) then continuing on Mosquito Ridge to French Meadows Road (turning right there) at mile 25.5 then bending right to merge onto French Meadows Road at mile 30.9 until you get to the back slide of the slide and the bottom of the Corkscrew climb - then turn around and retrace your steps to the start of the Mosquito Ridge climb - here’s the out-and-back map for this 96.5 mile 12,880’ day - 

Here’s what you get if you go for it . . .

From John Berude:

The Corkscrew is a lovely, remote climb in the Tahoe National Forest that accesses the network of higher elevation paved and gravel roads between US-50 and I-80. The climb and following ridgetop is almost guaranteed to be car-free for at least 18 miles (except for the odd hydro worker or logging truck) thanks to a major landslide at the start of the climb. Crossing the landslide is a commitment, but well worth the effort. The dirt and rock is steep but pretty solid, and there are faint trails you can follow. Mountain cleats only... don't even think about attempting this in road shoes! When I did the crossing, we chose a higher traverse line than we initially thought we should and it made for much easier travel than the lower lines.

Once you're on the other side of the landslide, it is a blissful climb with excellent views into the canyon. The bulk of the climb is all-but-forgotten, though the pavement remains in good shape. Once at the top, you can continue along an equally excellent ridgeline to the junctions with Eleven Pines Rd or French Meadows/Hell Hole Rd. If you brought a road bike, go check out the reservoirs and finish your ride with the world-class 17 mile descent of Mosquito Ridge Rd! If you brought a gravel bike (which you should), then go get lost in the folly of the forest on the wonderful gravel roads beyond the reservoirs... and then rip the epic Mosquito Ridge Rd descent!

Oxbow Reservoir on the Rubicon River.  

There are some great views of the Hydroelectric Plant (the start) about 1,000’ up the climb as well as some interesting “look-backs” at the Corkscrew you just navigated.  The grade on this beast is steep throughout, spiking at the mid to upper-teens in spots.  This one will test you!


This one qualifies as epic.

John Berude and JJ atop Mt. St. Helena after John’s KOM.