Page Contributor(s): Tony Buffington, Woodland Hills, CA, USA
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Cycling Mix Canyon Road
Ride a mere four miles, but at a stout 10.5% average grade.
Mix Canyon is a short but very challenging climb near Vacaville, California and is the seventh steepest 2.5 mile road bike climb segment in the U.S., and the steepest in California. The grade increases with each mile – the first mile is 5.8%, mile two is 8.8%, mile three is 12.8% and, finally, the coup de grace: a whopping 13.4% for mile four. There are not many dramatic views, with the exception of a couple of opportunities eastward down towards the Vacaville/Fairfield area near the top of the climb. What makes this climb notable is the significant and difficult grade over the last two miles.
Before heading out to tackle Mix Canyon, be sure to rely on our list of Things to Bring on a Cycling Trip, and use our interactive checklist to ensure you don't forget anything.
A windy, narrow road through a canyon with minimal distant views.
The finish is at the “Y” up to the radio towers (left) and Blue Ridge Road (right).
There are no Top 100 rides in the near vicinity and this is not a “destination climb,” but it is a unique ride that is worthwhile if you happen to be travelling through or live in the area.
Views near the top on a clear day.
Photos clockwise from top left: North; northeast; east; west.
Photos by Tony Buffington, Woodland, CA
Traffic and Roadway Surface Report: The roadway is very narrow, essentially a wide one-laner the entire route. The roadway surface is in moderate to somewhat poor condition in spots. However, despite being fairly narrow, the road is safe as it has very little traffic. The descent is technical and caution is mandatory due to the incredibly steep grade and narrow width of the roadway. The road dead-ends at a no trespass sign at the top, about 4.75 miles from the beginning of Mix Canyon Road.
Spooky at the end on a late finishing night 9-25-15.
“Mix Canyon is one of the most difficult climbs in California nad the United States over a similar length. Somewhat isolated, the first mile is fairly shallow but things get more difficult as you ride over a variable grade. There are a few houses along the way but you should encounter little if any traffic on this very narrow route. Soon the grade reaches double digit and stays there as the last 2 miles you will likely remember as they are steeper than California icons Bolhmon/On Orbit and Old Priest Grade and feature one of the most difficult miles in cycling. The entire route resembles some European climbs as it is over a narrow, single lane. Near the top are several severe switchbacks that will also get your attention, one of which contains the maximum grade of the ascent. Towards the very top riders also receive views down into the valley. The grade finally eases over the last 0.2 miles and at the very top the road turns into dirt in a pleasant setting. Due to its steep grade and twisty route Mix Canyon is a technical and difficult descent as well.” (This quote is presented with the approval of John Summerson, from his book, The Complete Guide to Climbing (by Bike), 2nd Edition, pg. 132.)