Cycling Socrates Mine Road, Lake County
Ride 3.5 miles gaining 1,818’ at 9.9% average grade.
This is the third highest Fiets Index ranked climb in the Sonoma-Napa-Lake area and the highest which is fully paved (Mt. St Helena is no. 1 and Bald Mt no. 2, but cross bikes are recommended for them). Note the two 22% segments on the Elevation Profile, on this Climb Page. Another interesting feature on Socrates Mine Road is its 3 runaway truck ramps available for the unfortunate trucker, something we have not seen on any other rural narrow remote non-highway we have ridden. This ride is epic and highly recommended for serious climbers. YouTube Video of Climb.
This brute is located in the Mayacamas Mountain which is a subrange of the Pacific Coast Range. The road gets its name from the long abandoned Socrates mercury mine which operated during the Northbay’s quicksilver boom in the late 1800’s. The mine was reopened for a time in the 1960’s due to a dramatic increase in the price of quicksilver which made the mine once again valuable, albeit for a brief period of time.
Photo from Healdsburg Tribune 7-1-65;
Webpage location: URC Center for Bibliographical Studies and Research, California Digital Newspaper Collection
Surveyor’s map of Socrates Mine (circa 1903)
The Quicksilver Resources of California, p. 116
The Socrates Tunnel was about 200’ below the surface
The extreme challenge of this climb begins at mile 2.2 and continues unabated to the top, averaging a startling 15.3% for final 1.3 miles - all the more challenging during the summer when temperatures often approach and exceed 100 degrees.
Climb ends at Calpine power station Big Geysers Unit 13.
Finish at a geothermal power plant
Roadway surface/Traffic: The roadway is mildly deteriorated, but manageable. This is a 2 lane remote road that has no bike lane, but has very low traffic flow.