Mt. Diablo - North Gate Bike Climb - PJAMM Cycling

6.2
FIETS
12.4 mi
DISTANCE
3,642 ft
GAINED
5.5 %
AVG. GRADE

FULL CLIMB STATS

INTRO

Mt. Diablo from Walnut Creek (north) is the fifth most difficult bike climb in the Bay area. The northern and southern approaches to the summit merge for the final 4.5 miles to the summit. At the summit there is an observation platform giving us the best 360 degree views in the East Bay. Mt. Diablo 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).
The first 2.7 miles of this climb are a great warm up at 2.2% average grade.  33.5% (4.1 miles) is at 0-5%, 55% (6.7 miles) 5-10% and 7.4% (.9 miles) is at 10-15%.  The steepest quarter mile is 10.5% and steepest mile 8.4%.  

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 2020, there was no charge to enter the park on bike or foot, but double check that at California State Park Entry Fees & Passes site.

Parking:  I have always parked along Oak Grove Road just before N. Gate Road  -Map; Street View.
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 and City (Google Map + Reviews).  Staying in nearby Walnut Creek has several options, including private vacation rentals.

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 doing both Mt. Diablo North Gate and South Gate climbs together - this is a 37 miles 5,230'' out and back (Map).  

Consult the PJAMM Weather Tool for the time you expect to arrive at the finish to assess what clothing to bring on your ride.

ROUTE MAP

MEMBER RATING

Difficulty: Strenuous
5
Road
3
Traffic
4
Scenery

CURRENT WEATHER

NEARBY CLIMBS (0) RADIAL PROXIMITY

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MEMBER REVIEWS & COMMENTS

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Mar 14, 2021
difficulty: Strenuous
scenery: 4
traffic: 3
road: 5
Mar 14, 2021
scenery: 4
traffic: 3
road: 5
One of my favorites, pretty much sweeping views the entire way up
May 17, 2021
This is north gate route, but I rode South Gate route a lot which is 11mi long
ROUTE MAP
PROFILE TOOL

Climb Profile Not Found
CLIMB SUMMARY

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

Cycling Mt. Diablo: North Gate Road

An East Bay Jewel

Ride 12.4 miles gaining 3,681’ at 5.5% average grade.

Photo collage, signs for Mt. Diablo State Park, Summit, aerial drone view of the road along Mt. Diablo, PJAMM Cycling logo in corner

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

“The north side climb of Mount Diablo is a Bay Area classic and within perhaps the most popular outdoor venue in the area. The climb begins as shallow and in open terrain from the north gate. Eventually things get more challenging as the road twists through 5-7% grade around the mountain with a few steeper sections thrown in. Bear left at the fork (right to descend the south side) to continue to the summit. This final section is over mostly solid grade and a twisty route. Just before the very top the slope eases. You then encounter a single lane route for the last 0.1 mile which is over double digit grade and contains the maximum grade of the climb. Take some time for the views from the top as they are perhaps the best in the area. This side of Diablo is a bit more difficult and has a more isolated feel than the southern approach which is also a solid climb (10.4 miles at 5.8% average grade.)” (This quote is presented with the approval of John Summerson, from his book, The Complete Guide to Climbing (by Bike), 2nd Edition, pg. 165.)

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 means “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).  

Bronze plaque marking the local point meridian on Mt. Diablo, State Park

Lt Col Norman Edwin Denning was responsible for the

Mt. Diablo initial point meridian and baseline mentioned above

Mt. Diablo as seen from Gates Canyon Road in Vacaville, and as seen from Mt. Tamalpais

There is no missing Mt. Diablo

Mt. Diablo as seen from Gates Road, Vacaville (left); and from Mt. Tamalpais (right).

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's Center at Mt. Diablo's summit, including an oil beacon which is ceremoniously lit once a year

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; Inside the Visitor Center;

The observation deck and beacon tower.

Visitor's Center and gift shop at Climb summit

The gift shop/store at the summit has candy, ice cream, drinks and cycling jerseys to purchase.

Both the South and North Gate climbs are broken into two segments.  Here are the segments for the North Gate route:  

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

The North Gate route to the summit is a bit more difficult to Summit Road than on the South Gate route (7.9 versus 6.1 miles, and 5.4% versus 4.5%) and a bit more exposed with less shade, so beware and come prepared on hot days.  As for popularity, South Gate to Junction had 71,790 Strava attempts as of September 1, 2015 versus only 36,589 for the equivalent segment from the north.

 

Photo collage along the North Gate Road to Castle Rock Road

Start of climb -- North Gate Road and Castle Rock Road (top left photo).

Sign reads "Gate Closed Sunset - 8AM"

signs for Mt. Diablo State Park, bike parked against mailboxes, sign explaining day use fees   

Enter park at mile 1.4 - no fee for cyclists as of June 2021.

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

North Gate Road from Walnut Creek.

bike parked in front of fence by farm buildings, sign for The Diablo Ranch, bike parked next to horses in pasture

Some ranch buildings and a lot of pasture on the first half of the climb.

Junction of South and North Gate Roads

There is water at the Junction Ranger Station (mile 7.9 from the north) and at the Summit.  Be sure to bear left onto Summit Road at the North and South Gate junction.

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 at ranger station

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

LAST 4.5 MILES

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

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

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

Northwesterly view of the summit.

Devil’s Elbow is the hairpin right-center of photo.

views along the top portion of the climb

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

Devil’s Elbow.

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 is so low, this is a very safe climb.

Cyclist rides the top portion of the climb, approaching the Standard Oil Beacon at summit

The Historic Standard Oil Beacon is visible as we near the summit.

view from the summit, San Francisco and the Golden Gate Bridge can be seen in the distance

View from summit.

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.

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 Mount Diablo is that traffic travels at or near the posted 20 mph speed limit, making this a very safe route.  

TOUR OF CALIFORNIA

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!