Cycling Gates Canyon
Ride 4.9 miles gaining 2,300’ at 8.9% climb only (0 descent)
This is a hidden gem off of Pleasants Valley Road on your way to Mix Canyon (one of the steepest bike climbs in California - the steepest for 2.5 miles).
Two caveats about this climb:
The climb is about 50% gravel.
Gravel segment 1 (left) begins at mile 1.7) and segment two at mile 3.9
As you can see, I did the climb on a road bike (Specialized Roubaix) with smooth but large (30mm) tires. I also have a 42t cassette to back up my 34 chain ring so I can manage steep gravel segments without slipping. Some of the gravel segments are quite steep (15-20%) so it would be very difficult to negotiate the steep gravel sections on a standard road bike with thin tires and small cassette.
Potential locked gates.
There is a sign warning of a locked gate as you turn off Pleasants Valley Road onto Gates Canyon Road. There are several radio and television towers 6 miles up the road that were no doubt protected by closed gates in the past. However, when i did this climb on June 12, 2021 the gates were open. Further, there were no signs on or around the gates that suggested you could not hike or ride beyond the gates when they are closed.
This climb is only 2.4 miles from Mix Canyon and can be done as a loop. Here is the loop in the Gates Road climb direction - Map (14.2 miles 2,566’) and here is the Mix Canyon climb direction - Map (14.2 miles 2,573’). The Mix canyon climb is fully paved so it would be logical to go that route on smaller tires.
Climb begins just over 1 miles up the road from Pleasants Valley Road.
We are surrounded by the remnants the August, 2020 Hennessey fire along the climb.
In August, 2020, the devastating 46,000 acres Hennessey fire swept through the English Hills north of vacaville destroying most of the homes and trees/brush along Gates Canyon. The remnants of this fire were clearly visible in June, 2021.
We finish near Mount Vaca which is the highest point in Solano County at 2,822’ (see blue dot in middle of photo collage above - blue dot is my location at the finish when I took that screen shot).
Mt. Diablo is clearly visible near the top of our climb.
Mt. Diablo is 38 miles due south of our Gates Canyon Road climb finish.
Beware the steep!
I saw, but could not capture, 24% grade on this climb - the climb frequently is above 15%.
That’s a wrap!!