Magnolia Road Bike Climb - PJAMM Cycling

4.5 mi
2,190 ft
9.1 %


Page Contributor(s): Christopher Jacobs - Boulder, CO


"Magnolia Road near Boulder is one of the steepest climbs in Colorado. Be ready early on as the road is severe immediately and through tight turns. The first mile is the steepest of the route and through several continuous switchbacks that will test the legs. Good views of Boulder Canyon appear in spots if you can lift your head. A short descent appears but soon the grade increases. There are two more big switchbacks to negotiate with grade in their inner corners at 25%. The several small descents you encounter let you catch your breath but also knock down the average grade of this monster. Near the top the slope eases for good and the climb ends just before the road turns to dirt in a pleasant setting..." (This quote is presented with the approval of John Summerson, from The Complete Guide to Climbing (by Bike) in Colorado, pg. 84.)
The average grade for the climb is 9.1% (9.7% without descent).  33% (1.5 miles) of the climb is at grade 5-10%, 37% (1.7 miles) is at 10-15%, and 10% (0.4 miles) is in the 15-20% gradient range.  The steepest quarter-mile is 15.8% and steepest continuous half-mile 14.2%. 
Roadway:  Good condition.

Traffic:  Minimal.

Parking:  At climb start - Map Street View.
Gear:  I used a compact chain ring and 28t cassette my first time up this beast (at age 57) and compact 42t my second time up at age 63 (in my defense, I only used the 38t cog on the cassette ๐Ÿ˜Š).
Before heading out on any cycling adventure check out our Things to Bring on a Cycling Trip and use our interactive check list to ensure you don't forget anything.
As noted in the introduction, this climb is in the center of the bike universe - the unbelievably bike friendly Boulder, Colorado (see PJAMM's Boulder, CO climb area page).  Just across Boulder Canyon Drive is the Sugarloaf Road climb and you can ride to the Magnolia Road climb using the Boulder Canyon, although there is a lot of moderately traveling motor vehicle traffic on that ride. 

To plan your ride in the Boulder area, see the Routes in Area tool to see what other climbs are in the area, or check out some of the Ride Suggestions in the Full summary for some full routes.



Not Yet Rated



No Climbs Found


Let us know what you thought of this climb. Signup for our FREE membership to write a review or post a comment.
Already have an account?

Climb Profile Not Found

Climbing Magnolia Drive, Boulder, Colorado - stretch of two-lane road surrounded by evergreen trees and mountains

Cycling Magnolia Drive

A beast of a climb out of Boulder, Colorado

Ride 4.5 miles gaining 2,185โ€™ at 9.1% average grade.

Climb summary by PJAMMโ€™s John Johnson.

Climbing Magnolia Drive, Boulder, Colorado - photo collage, PJAMM Cycling logo in corner, bike parked next to sign for Roosevelt National Forest, multiple aerial drone views of  curves in roadway

Climbing Magnolia Drive, Boulder, Colorado - stretch of two-lane roadway curving up mountainside, road signs warning of Steep Mountain Road and windy road, 10 MPH road sign

The thing about Magnolia Road is that it hits you with a right cross on the chin as soon as you enter the ring -- after a few pedal strokes youโ€™re at 11.8% average grade for a quarter-mile and 11% for the first mile (gaining a whopping 620' over that distance).   The steepest stretch is 0.2 miles at mile 2.88-3.08 (16.4%).  

Climbing Magnolia Drive, Boulder, Colorado - photo collage, PJAMM Cycling logo in corner, bike parked along guardrail overlooking creek, PJAMM Cycling white SAG van parked along roadside

There is plenty of parking at the beginning of the climb.

Climbing Magnolia Drive, Boulder, Colorado - PJAMM cycling logo in corner, multiple aerial drone views of hairpin curve in roadway

Hairpin #1.

Climbing Magnolia Drive, Boulder, Colorado - climb map and gradient

The first 9/10s of a mile are at 12.3% (it felt like more). . .

. . . be prepared!

This is a beautiful and scenic ride as can be seen from our YouTube playlist of the climb.  We enter Roosevelt National Forest at 0.8 miles as we struggle with mid-teen grades just before the grade eases for a short bit at about the 0.9 mile mark.  With the seventh highest average grade of the Top 100 climbs at 10%, this little devil will surely test your legs.

Climbing Magnolia Drive, Boulder, Colorado - PJAMM Cycling logo in corner, bike parked against wooden sign on roadside for Roosevelt National Forest

Climbing Magnolia Drive, Boulder, Colorado - photo collage, PJAMM Cycling logo in corner, bike handlebars looking out over mountainside, climb gradient and map, bike parked along roadside near evergreen trees, Garmin reading 16%, bike parked along roadside next to sign for 14% grade, stretch of two-lane roadway

The climb and its grade can be followed on our YouTube video which uses Garmin Virb with grade and elevation overlays.

Traffic and Roadway Report:  As of August 2014, the roadway surface was very good.  While there is no shoulder on this road, there is not a lot of traffic either -- the road felt safe to ride.

Climbing Magnolia Drive, Boulder, Colorado - photo collage, PJAMM Cycling logo in corner, bike laying down in center of two-lane roadway with PJAMM Cycling jersey draped over it, bike parked next to road sign for steep roadway, bike parked against pine tree on roadside

The blessed finish -- that is one TOUGH road bike climb.  ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘