Hicks Road - Mt. Umunhum (south) Bike Climb - PJAMM Cycling

Hicks Road - Mt. Umunhum (south)


Alternate route up Mt. Umunhum - second most difficult climb in Santa Clara/Santa Cruz Counties (behind Hicks-Umunhum North)

Page Contributor(s): Dan Razum, Campbell, California, USA; Dennis M., Cupertino, California, USA.

Explore this Climb

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Climb Summary

Cycling Mt Umunhum  - Mt. Umunhum sign with The Cube in the background.

How does Umunhum rank in Santa Clara County, California, the United States and the world compared to with the other top bike climbs?

  • Difficulty overall:
  • Santa Clara County: North #1/South #2
  • California:  North #40/South #52
  • USA:  North #82/South n/r
  • Steepest 5 miles::
  • Santa Clara: North #1/South #2
  • California: North #1[1]/South #4
  • USA:  North #8/South #10
  • World: North #79/South #88


Drone video of The Cube: San Jose - Silicon Valley in background.

Hicks Road North and South up Mt. Umunhum (Ohlone for "resting place of the hummingbird") are the climbing tests of Santa Clara County.  Accessed primarily from the San Jose (north) side, the northern start is ranked slightly higher on the difficulty scale, and it does hit us very hard from the very beginning and carries 11.5% average grade to the turn off to Mt. Umunhum 1.5 miles up the road.

Cyclists on Hicks Road on way to Mt Umunhum by northern route

Start of Mt. Umunhum North.

PJAMM cyclists on Hicks Road riding bike to Mt Umunhum

Start of Umunhum South.

Cycling Mt. Umunhum - PJAMM cyclist on bike entering Sierra Azul Open Space Preserve on Mt. Umunhum Road

Mt. Umunhum Road

5.5 miles gaining 2,300’ to 3,448’ at 7.1%.

We enter Sierra Azul Open Space Preserve (the route to Mt. Umunhum) at around the 1.5 mile mark from each side of Hicks Road.  From here it is about four more miles to the top.  We have great views of the Santa Cruz Mountains to the west and the Silicon Valley, Mt. Hamilton, and the Diablo Mountain Range to the east.  When you arrive near the summit, there is a main parking lot for cars but you can go to the right and continue a couple hundred yards up to the handicap parking lot at the top and view The Cube in all its glory.

PJAMM cyclists on Hicks Road riding bike to Mt Umunhum

Mt. Umunhum Road is cycle friendly.

PJAMM cyclists on Hicks Road riding bike to Mt Umunhum

PJAMM cyclists on on bikes at finish of Mt Umunhum

The Cube leaves no doubt where the top of Mt. Umunhum is.

The angular shape of The Cube is visible from great distance.

PJAMM cyclists on Hicks Road riding bike to Mt Umunhum 

Drone video of The Cube - Silicon Valle in background.

PJAMM cyclists on Hicks Road riding bike to Mt Umunhum 

Cube Top.

PJAMM cyclists on Hicks Road riding bike to Mt Umunhum

Drone take off from the top of The Cube

The ranked route ends about 1 ½ miles from The Cube.  Continue on 1.5 miles at 1.5% average grade and visit The Cube.  Full routes to The Cube from north and from south is accessed via the links.

Roadway Surface and Traffic Report:  Hicks Road from the Silicon Valley side is a great ride but the two lane road is narrow and there is mild traffic with many curves along the way that make it a slightly unsettling climb, particularly if starting from the South Bay.  The Northern side has minimal traffic and is very safe.   Mt. Umunhum has no traffic and is a single lane rough road which was was recently repaved (September 2017) and is in very good condition.  There is moderate traffic from people visiting the summit, but car speeds are low and the ride feels quite safe.


  View on climb by bike up Mt Umunhum - Mt. Hamilton and Lick Observatory in background.

Mt. Umunhum Road just below center of photo;

 Mt. Hamilton (Lick Observatory) is center in mountain range in background.

About the Area:

At 3,486 feet, Mt. Umunhum is one of the highest peaks in the Santa Cruz Mountain Range, and is part of the Sierra Azul Open Space Preserve.  The summit of Mt. Umunhum has been newly restored and revived by the Midpeninsula Open Space District (MOSD), and has been recently reopened for public access.  From the peak beautiful panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean and the Sierra Nevada mountain range can be enjoyed.  Visit MOSD’s website for more information on this unique public space, including the peak’s historical significance as a Native American ceremonial site, and later as an important part of the west coast’s Air Force presence with what is now known as the Mt. Umunhum Cube -- a five story Cold War era radio building built in the early 1960s.

[1] The Bear near Bakersfield is the steepest, but it is over a private road so is not included in our assessment here.