BRECKENRIDGE ROAD EAST
This climb is in a remote part of the southwestern Sierra Nevada mountain range in California and can be done in conjunction with 2 nearby top 100 climbs - #26 Shirley Meadows (19 miles north) and #69 Portuguese Pass (45 miles northwest).
The climb is remote - but, that’s the point!
Strava member Titan Miller, California City, CA summarizes this ride: "Breckenridge is the biggest and most scenic climb in the local area. The first mile is mostly shaded from trees and the mountain and then becomes mostly open and exposed. The views of the valley are great (coming from someone who grew up in the midwest). About halfway up the climb you pass a sign notifying you that you're entering Sequoia National Forest, however, these magnificent trees don't begin until near the end and there are no giant sequoia groves. The last mile is in forest which provides much better scenery and some shade. The road condition is fairly poor, as you'd expect from a low traveled mountain road like this (I only saw one car). There are several areas where sand has washed across the road so caution is required when descending.”
We traveled to this southernmost Sierra climb in July, 2015. One interesting point to be aware of along this climb is that you ride the northern ridge of Breckenridge Mountain for the first 2 miles which offers great (disconcerting?) views of the grade cut into the mountainside you are about to climb. Then, for the next 4 miles you ride along the eastern ridge with several sharp turns and switchbacks along the way, giving you varying views of the grade to come as well as more and more distant views back to the vertical feet you have already recorded! There are no provisions along this route (either on the east or west sides) and the heat can be significant, so bring plenty of water and food for the trip.
We start the climb in the common sierra foothill grassland, brush and oak trees which give way to our expected alpine setting about two-thirds of the way up the climb.
Tourist Point of Note: If traveling to Breckenridge East from Wofford Heights (Shirley Meadows #26 climb), we pass the historic community of Havilah. There is not much there, but there is a very old courthouse with museum that is worth the stop (see slideshow).
Steepest ¼ mile begins at mile 6.2 (9.4%)
Descent: The road is very twisty, narrow and with a fair amount of sand and dirt in many spots - caution is mandatory on this one!
Roadway and traffic: The roadway is a true one-laner the entire way and you’ll encounter very few motor vehicles (or cyclists, for that matter) on this one.
BRECKENRIDGE ROAD WEST
This climb begins just 12 miles outside of Bakersfield, CA and is much more gradual in grade, but 3 times longer in length, than the east side of the pass. One very scenic (if not epic) part of this climb is the lower quarter which takes us through rolling hills surrounded by nothing more than Southern Sierra grasslands and the view back from around miles 2-6 is simply unique and spectacular - the smooth topography void of any trees or vegetation other than high brown grass gives the impression of being in the Sahara Desert’s sand dunes, rather than barren hills covered only with grass (see photos - extremely unique scenes).
Steepest ¼ mile begins at the last ¼ mile (13.1%)
There are no provisions along this route and it gets extremely hot during the late spring and summer, so bring 2 water bottles and a good size hydration pack and extra food. The climb ends at unmarked Breckenridge Pass and the more adventurous (nutty?) of us will drop down the east side of Breckenridge Mountain and ride back up Breckenridge East (very difficult and risky proposition as there is no place for water in this nearly 100 mile trek if you begin in Bakersfield (or 70 miles if you park at the start of Breckenridge West climb).
Roadway surface and traffic: Narrow 2 lane road with no center stripe for the first portion of the climb, turning to a narrow and twisty wide one lane road over the last ⅓ of the climb. There is minimal traffic on this climb.