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Cycling Mt. Hamilton East
Ride 4.5 miles gaining 1,962’ at 8.3% average grade.
Both sides of Mt. Hamilton end amidst University of California observatories.
“The Climb Less Traveled” -- well, at least by comparison to Mt. Hamilton West. For those intent on maximizing their elevation and minimizing their miles, the 46 mile out-and-back, starting from Alum Rock Boulevard/Mt. Hamilton Road/San Antonio Road and back is the way to go. Our Garmin read 6,421’ of climbing at the end of that out-and-back.
Before heading out to cycle Mt. Hamilton, 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.
Start of climb -- where the road pitches up.
This is the middle climbing segment of the popular but brutal Devil Mountain Double which is held in April each year. This climb has close to double the pitch as the “front” side of Hamilton (this ascent is referred to locally as Hamilton Backside) at 8.3% and is quite challenging. The views predominantly to the north as we climb are of hundreds of miles of the Diablo Mountain Range. This climb ends 0.7 miles short of Hamilton West, and this final stretch is rollers with -62’ and only +27’ for that stretch.
Mt. Umunhum is visible as we climb the final segment of Mt. Hamilton West.
The summit for the Mt. Hamilton West climb is the Lick Observatory, owned and operated by the University of California. This is the world’s first permanently occupied mountain-top observatory (the sign on the first building we come to at the top says “Residents Dining Hall” -- inactive as of 2015).
Lick Observatory at the top of the climb.
Roadway Surface and Traffic Report: The roadway is wide (but with no bike lane) and in excellent condition. Traffic is not a problem. This is an excellent and safe climb.
Mt. Hamilton is in the Diablo Mountain Range and it is reported that on clear days one can see the Santa Cruz Mountains, Monterey Bay, and Yosemite National Park (see, Wikipedia - Mt. Hamilton). Unfortunately, on two of our times up Mt. Hamilton we were in the clouds much of the trip, and on the other we were suffering at about the halfway point of the Devil Mountain Double (not a time to truly relax and enjoy the views!).
AMGEN TOUR OF CALIFORNIA
Mt. Hamilton is the most featured mountain climb in the history of the Tour of California, having been featured six times between 2006-2019. Mt. Hamilton has never been a mountain-top finish in the ToC. (Note that ToC is on hiatus for 2020.)
2019 Stage 3 Profile: May 14, 2019, 128 miles / elevation gain 9,667’
Peloton makes its way up Mt. Hamilton West -- 2014 Stage 3.
MT. HAMILTON AT SUNSET
Sunset from Lick Observatory.