Mt. Diablo - South Gate Bike Climb - PJAMM Cycling

5.7
FIETS
10.5 mi
DISTANCE
3,201 ft
GAINED
5.7 %
AVG. GRADE

FULL CLIMB STATS

INTRO

Cycling Mt. Diablo from the South: This is one of the more scenic bike climbs in the East Bay. With its 360 degree views from the top, this is one of the great viewpoints of the Bay Area. Mt. Diablo is likely the most popular bike climb in the Bay Area. It is also one of the five "must do" mountains to climb by bike in the Bay Area, along with Mt. Tamalpais (Marin County), Mt. St. Helena (Napa County), Mt. Hamilton (Santa Clara County), and Mt. Umunhum (Santa Clara County).
This climb averages nearly 6% but is fairly steady throughout.  35% (3.7 miles) are at 0-5% grade, 52% (5.5 miles) 5-10% and 8% (.8 mile) is at 10-15%. The steepest quarter mile is 11.9% and steepest mile 8.4% beginning about two miles from the top.  The toughest section of the climb is the last 100 yards at 16% just before the summit. 

See more details and tools regarding this climb's grade via the “Profile Tool” button above.
Roadway: The roadway is pristine from start to finish.

Traffic: Traffic moves slowly through the 25 mph park section and this is a very safe climb. There are many "share the road" signs along the climb as a testament to the State Parks support for cyclists.

Fee:  As of 2021 - none.  See, parks.ca.gov

Parking: There is some, but not a lot of, street parking along the first mile of the climb. We have always parked at The Athenian School on Mt. Diablo Scenic Boulevard (Map).
Provisions:  There is a water fountain behind the Junction Ranger Station (mile 8) and a snack machine and water at the top.
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.
Visit the Mt. Diablo Summit Museum at the finish of the climb and the observation deck with excellent views of the East Bay and San Francisco Bay.  Staying in nearby Walnut Creek has several options.

There is also camping and hiking in the Mt. Diablo State Park (20,000 acres). See also, All Trails Best Hikes in Mt. Diablo State Park

Consider riding both South and North Mt. Diablo climbs. This is a 34 miles 5,065' out and back route (Map). Use the Routes in Area tool to see other bike climbs in this area.  

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PROFILE TOOL

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CLIMB SUMMARY

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

Cycling Mt. Diablo South Gate Road

Ride 10.5 miles gaining 3,201’ at 5.7% average grade.

Mt. Diablo is the most popular road bike climb in the Bay Area.

GENERAL INFORMATION

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

The summit of Mt. Diablo offers the best full 360° views anywhere in the Bay Area.  

Before heading out to cycle Mt. Diablo, 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.

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.  According to an article about Mount Diablo’s history and use as an “initial point”, this mountain 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 Northern California and Nevada property boundaries” (read full article here).  

MT. DIABLO VISITOR CENTER AT THE MOUNTAIN'S SUMMIT

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

Mt. Diablo Summit

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

Photos:  The observation deck and beacon tower

Inside the Beacon Tower; and Inside the Visitor Center.

The observation deck and beacon tower.

The Visitor Center at the summit has candy, drinks, ice cream and cycling jerseys for sale.

CLIMBING MT. DIABLO BY BIKE FROM THE SOUTH GATE

Both the South and North Gate climbs are broken into two segments - The South Gate Route:

  • Segment One:  South Gate to Summit Road (6.1 miles / 1,520’ / 4.5%), and
  • Segment Two:  Summit Road - 4.5 miles / 1,654’ / 6.7%.

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

Start of South Gate climb.

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

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 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.

We begin this climb 0.3 miles outside the park entrance (South Gate Road) 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 10.5 miles we travel through a very rural oak studded open space California State Park.  

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.

Tool box with all you’ll need is also at the Junction Ranger Station.

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 west) west of the Golden Gate Bridge.  For most of the climb, our view is of grasslands with many interspersed valley, blue, and black oak tree varieties.  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 two-tenths mile (“The Wall” -- Strava has it at 0.1 mile, but we charted it closer to 0.2) 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 Highway 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 highpoint in the background upper right center.

Mt. Diablo  bike climb - summit sign

Exceptional views from the summit.

If you are driving from out of the area and just doing the climb, parking is difficult 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 November 2019).

Roadway Surface and Traffic Report: The roadway surface is exceptional and while there is moderate vehicular traffic along the climb, our experience in five times up Diablo is that traffic travels at or near the posted 20 mph speed limit, making this 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).

TOUR OF CALIFORNIA

 

Leopold Konig wins Stage 7 of the 2013 mountain-top finish Mt. Diablo (Jonathan Devich).

Mt. Diablo has been featured three times in the Tour of California between 2006 and 2019.

  • 2012 Stage 3
  • San Jose > Livermore
  • 115.3 miles, 7,151’ - South Gate Road
  • Stage winner: Peter Sagan (SVK; Liquigas-Cannondale) - sprint finish

 

Peter Sagan wins ToC 2012 Stage 3.

Photo:  Catenacycling.com

  • 2013 Stage 7
  • Livermore > Mt. Diablo summit
  • 91.2 miles, 7,320’
  • Stage winner: Leopold König (CZE; NetApp-Endura) by 7”

  • 2014 Stage 3
  • San Jose > Mount Diablo summit
  • 107 miles, 10,574’
  • Stage winner:  Rohan Dennis (AUS; Garmin-Sharp)

Rohan Dennis wins ToC 2014 Stage 3 mountain-top finish on Mt. Diablo.

Photo:  AP Marcio Jose Sanchez

That’s a wrap!