Okemo Bike Climb - PJAMM Cycling

Okemo

VT, USA

An EXTREMELY steep and difficult bike climb!

Page Contributor(s): John Summerson, The Complete Guide to Climbing (By Bike), 2nd Edition; James Young, Toronto, Canada

Explore this Climb

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Climb Summary


Cycling Okemo, Vermont - sign for Okemo Mountain Resort

Cycling Okemo

Ride 4 miles gaining 2,125’ at 10.2% average grade.

This one is named after the mountain it climbs.  Okemo is in the Green Mountains of Vermont, and has the largest vertical drop (3,344’ at the top to 1,144’ at the base = 2,200’ drop [or climb 😟]).  The word Okemo means “chieftain” in Chippewa.  We ride through the runs of Okemo Mountain Resort much of the climb.  Okemo is a top rated ski mountain, ranking #1 in Vermont according to some reports (e.g. #1 of 12 in Planetware.com report).

Cycling Okemo, Vermont - views along the first third of the climb, including lots of fall foliage and a large red barn, PJAMM Cycling logo in corner

First third of the climb.

“Another Northeast classic, this tough climb is routed through a ski area and heads towards the top of Okemo Mountain in scenic central Vermont.  A steep mile (and very steep half mile) in the middle of the climb will test you although a majority of the hill is along double digit grade.  Steep at the very start as you leave the village of Ludlow, the slope on this hill soon eases back as you pass through the lower reaches of a ski area.  Once beyond, the grade picks up again quickly and you soon are riding over the steepest sustained roadway on the wooded mountain…” (This quote is provided with the approval of John Summerson from his book, The Complete Guide to Climbing (by Bike) in the Northeast, pg. 180.)

Cycling Okemo, Vermont - PJAMM Adventure app showing climb grade and profile

From the PJAMM Adventure App.

Purple Segments = 20%+!!

Climb summary by PJAMM’s James Young of Ontario, Canada:

Unpretentious.  Right from the get go this is all about going uphill.  Four miles and 2100 feet says it all.  Turn off the highway and welcome to +10% and it is relentless all the way up.

Cycling Okemo, Vermont - views along the middle portion of the climb, including a 20% Garmin read and great viewpoints to see fall foliage

Middle section of the climb.

Steepest quarter mile is 17.5% beginning at mile 2.1.

I parked directly across from the climb start in a plaza -- lots of parking and coffee shop for pre and post ride caffeination.   Turning off busy Highway 103 onto the Okemo Mountain Road is a contrast in both tone and slope….Highway 103 is loud, flat, and busy whereas Okemo is quiet, steep, and downright serene.

Cycling Okemo, Vermont - Cyclist wearing PJAMM Cycling jersey overlooking fall foliage

This climb has character!  From the highway it just goes up.   Oh sure, within the first half mile there is a slight easing, but after that it is game on.  This road is on the ski hill….you are riding under the lifts and carving up the slopes.  

Cycling Okemo, Vermont - gorgeous fall foliage

Most of the ride is well canopied with occasional cutaways for crossing pistes and wonderful views of the valley below.  It twists and turns all the way up and there are ample opportunities for some quality paper boy riding.  

Cycling Okemo, Vermont - cyclist riding on roadway surrounded by tall, slender trees covered in fall foliage

The top is marked by a very understated gate at the beginning of a gravel path…..as I mentioned above -- unpretentious!

But here is the secret: Serenity!  Only two slow moving maintenance vehicles passed by the entire time -- a great ride to focus solely on climbing -- hearing only the birds, your tires on the road, and (for me) heavy breathing.  

Cycling Okemo, Vermont - john johnson wearing yellow PJAMM cycling windbreaker standing in front of sign with bike, sign for Mountain Road and No Mountain Biking on any Jackson Gore Trails

The road surface is good to very good -- enough rough and patched areas to give pause on the descent but you can see them form well away and no loose gravel whatsoever.

Cycling Okemo, Vermont - cyclist rides on center of two-lane roadway, underneath rustic train bridge crossing roadway

Having said that, the twists will put a crimp on bombing it and the views are exquisite.  My recommendation?  Take it easy down this one and enjoy the vistas.

The skinny:

Road Surface: Good to Very Good . Traffic: What’s that?  Safety: Safe as it gets.  Beauty: Outstanding -- bring the camera .  Tree Coverage: Not much in the first mile but lots after that.  Descent: Twists with some road patch work.   Parking: Ample parking at the base directly across Highway 103.  Post Ride Amenities: Plaza with a coffee shop…no need for anything else really.