The Beast of the West! #3 on the Top Santa Cruz / Santa Clara Climbing List. This is the toughest climb in Santa Cruz County and the Santa Cruz Mountains. From the start it sinks its teeth into us and does not let go until we approach the stop sign at the intersection of Alba Road and Empire Grade, 3.8 brutal miles later. We love this climb as we are surrounded and covered by redwoods nearly the entire climb and, due to the very low traffic along the roadway, this is a very peaceful, although tortuous climb.
Ride through the redwoods.
There is a very cool restored 1-room type schoolhouse a mile or so up the climb - Alba Schoolhouse.
We also start (and finish if you are doing an up and downer) at the northern edge of Ben Lomond a fairly sizeable Santa Cruz Mountain town with several dining and lodging options to choose from.
Roadway surface and traffic: The road varies from double to single lane and is in fair condition. There is minimal traffic along the route and we rate this a very safe climb.