Mt. Diablo - South Gate Bike Climb - PJAMM Cycling

Mt. Diablo - South Gate


The most popular East Bay climb

Explore this Climb

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Partly Cloudy

2.2 mph ENE with gusts up to 7.3 mph

0% chance of light rainfall

10:53 AM (local)
PJAMM Sunrise Icon7:06 AMPJAMM Sunset Icon7:24 PM

Wind Speed


pjamm cycling partly-cloudy-day weather icon

63° 47°


pjamm cycling rain weather icon

58° 46°


pjamm cycling cloudy weather icon

58° 48°


pjamm cycling rain weather icon

57° 44°


pjamm cycling fog weather icon

55° 42°


pjamm cycling clear-day weather icon

63° 44°


pjamm cycling clear-day weather icon

68° 46°

Climb Summary

Cycling Mt. Diablo - aerial drone pano of north and south gate roads.

Cycling Mt. Diablo - An East Bay jewel

General Information

 Mt. Diablo is a very popular East Bay State Park that offers many hiking trails, camping  and excellent views of the Bay Area and east towards the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range.  It is no coincidence that Diable is “Devil” in Spanish.  This is an appropriate name for this lengthy and challenging East Bay bike climb.

There are 360 degree views from the visitor center and observation deck at the mountain’s summit.  

Bicycle climb Mt. Diablo - aerial drone panorama photo of visitor center and observation deck

There is a historic beacon tower and museum-like visitor center at this bicycle climb’s finish.  “Mount Diablo is the starting point for the establishment of land boundaries throughout most of Northern California and all of Nevada. The summit is the location of the "Initial Point," the north/south meridian, and east/west baseline intersection point that is the basis for most property boundaries.” see history article).  

Mt. Diablo Visitor Center located at the summit

Cycling Mt. Diablo - cyclist on bike riding past summit sign - visitor center and beacon   

Summit sign, Visitor Center Parking Lot and Beacon.

Standard Oil Beacon - activated 1928; now lit once a year on December 7.

Cycling Visitor Center - Visitor center and historic light beacon

The observation deck and beacon tower.

Inside the Beacon Tower

  Climbing Mt. Diablo by bike - photo inside Visitor Center

Inside the Visitor Center

Junction of South and North Gate Roads

There is water at the Junction Ranger Station (mile 6.1 from the south and 7.9 from the north) and at Summit.  

Bicycle ride Mt. Diablo - front of Junction Ranger Station

Junction Ranger Station

Bicycling up Mt. Diablo - water faucet at Junction Ranger Station

Water at Junction Ranger Station

The Visitor Center at the summit has candy, liquids and 4 options of cycling jerseys to purchase (that is the largest selection of any visitor center in the U.S. that we have visited - most do not have even one to choose from).

Both the South and North Gate climbs are broken into 2 segments:  

  • Segments One:
  • South Gate to Summit Road (6.1 miles / 1,520’ / 4.5%) and
  • North Gate to Summit Road (7.9 / 2,015’ / 5.4%)
  • Segment Two:  Summit Road - 4.5 miles / 1,654’ / 6.7%

Bicycle ride and climb Mt. Diablo - Summit Road, Visitor Center, Beacon - aerial drone photo

Summit Road leading to Visitor Center and Beacon (view west)

Cycling and riding by bike Mt. Diablo - aerial drone photo of Summit Road, visitor center, beacon and observation deck

View north/northeast

Cycling Mt. Diablo - Summit Road - road sign for curve - garmin map with hairpins

Winding road after the merge of South/North Gate Roads.

Cycling Mt. Diablo - Shiloh Wind Power Plant as seen from Mt. Diablo observation tower

Northeast view of Shiloh Wind Power Plant - Birds Landing.

Mt. Diablo From South gate

We begin this climb .3 miles outside the park entrance (South Gate Rd) in the community of Diablo, just east of Danville, CA.  The climb starts at the end of a  rural residential area and for the remainder of the 10 1/2 miles we travel through a very rural oak studded open space California State Park.  

Cycling Mt. Diablo - South Gate - start of climb - bridge

Start of climb

   Climbing by bike Mt. Diablo - South Gate - views along climb

On a crystal clear day, it is reported that one can see the Sentinel Dome in Yosemite (130 miles due east), Mt. Lassen (170 miles north) and the Farallon Islands (60 miles due east)  west of the Golden  Gate Bridge.  For most of the climb, our view is of grasslands with many interspersed oak trees (valley, blue and black oaks).  The Climb averages 5.8% and is a very smooth  and comfortable ascent (in the 4-7% range, for the most part) save for the last 2/10th's mile (The Wall - Strava has it at .1 mile, but we charted it closer to .2) which averages  15%.  Views along the route are to the west and north of the Walnut Creek and San Pablo Bay areas and to the east of the Hwy 4 corridor (Pittsburg / Antioch / Brentwood  areas) all the way to the western Sierras.

Bicycle ride up Mt. Diablo - Summit Road - Golden Gate Bridge and Mount Tamalpais

Golden Gate Bridge center top

 Mt. Tamalpais is the bump on the mountain range upper center-right

Mt. Diablo  bike climb - summit sign

Exceptional views from the summit

Parking is difficult (if you are driving from out of area and just doing the climb) in the park and within a 1-2 mile perimeter outside of it in the bordering residential areas.  We recommend parking at Rock City Live Oak camping and parking area just past the ranger kiosk at mile 3.9 ($10 parking and day use fee - no charge for cyclists as of May, 2015).

The roadway surface is exceptional and while there is moderate vehicular traffic along the climb, our experience (3 times up Diablo) is that traffic travels at or near the  posted 20 mph speed limit and this is a very safe route.  You will also likely encounter many cyclists along the climb.  Be sure to turn right onto Summit Road at the North and  South Gate junction (mile 6).

Mt. Diablo From North Gate

This segment is a bit more difficult to Summit Road than South Gate (7.9 v. 6.1 miles versus 5.4 v. 4.5%) and a bit more exposed with less shade, so beware on hot days.  As for popularity, South Gate to Junction had 71,790 Strava attempts as of 9-1-15 versus only 36,589 for the equivalent segment from the north.


Climb Mt. Diablo - North Gate by bike - start of climb - street sign

Start of climb - North Gate Road and Castle Rock Road

    Cycling Mt. Diablo - North Gate - ranger station and park gate

Enter park at mile 1.4

Cycling Mt. Diablo - North Gate - aerial drone photo of hairpin turns 

North Gate Road from Walnut Creek.

As with the southern approach, the road along the entire ascent from the north is exceptional.  Traffic can be heavy on the weekends, but there are so many cyclists and the speed limit so low, this is a very safe climb.