Balch Park Road is a loop that includes Bear Creek Road. Two other Top 100 climbs are within 8 miles of the start of Balch Park Road (#21 Bear Creek Road [2.8 miles] and #40 Hwy 190 [7.5 miles]). As with Bear Creek Road, Balch Park enters the Sequoia National Forest in the first quarter of the climb (at mile ~5.7). At 4.9% average grade, this is a fairly tame climb and does not present the extremely steep climbing segments that Bear Creek Road just over the hill does. The first half of the climb is 5.6% average grade and the second about 4.2%. The Balch Park area has many recreational activities and camping to tack onto the climb trip if desired. The first 9 miles of the climb take us through generally unattractive scrub brush, but with some dynamic views of granite mountain faces between miles 4-8. We begin to enjoy the true Sequoia National Forest around miles 9-10 and the scenery gets more and more dramatic as we ascend.
Inauspicious start but spectacular finish!
Traffic and Roadway report: The roadway surface, other than the first few miles, is very poor, rutted, pot-holed and with plenty of loose gravel that makes for a rough and bumpy descent. There is a bit more trailer traffic on this side of the mountain than the Bear Creek side, but this is still light and the motorists we encountered were always respectful and often offered an encouraging shouts and waves.
Climb #8 of our 4-day Southwestern Sierra climb trip.
Steepest ½ mile starts at mile 4.3 (8.6%)