Sherman Pass West Bike Climb - PJAMM Cycling

15.5 mi
5,305 ft
6.5 %


Page Contributor(s): Ron Hawks, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA; Bruce Hamilton, La Quinta, CA, USA; Stacy Topping, Tacoma, WA, USA


Cycling Sherman Pass - the fifth hardest bike climb in California,  This is a very remote bike climb that can be extraordinarily hot during the summer.  This climb is all about challenge and offers little in the way of scenery due to terrible wildfires which have devastated this previously scenic section of Sequoia National Forest.  
5,305' gained, 3' of descent over a 15.5 mile climb - that's a good start for CA #1/USA #13. The average grade is 6.5%.  27% (4.1 miles) of the climb is at 0-5% grade, 64% (9.9 miles) at 5-10%, and 8% (1.3 miles) is at 10-15% average grade. The steepest quarter-mile is 10.1% and the steepest continuous mile is 8.5%.  The climb never exceeds 15%. 

See more details and tools regarding this climb's grade via the “Profile Tool” button.
Roadway:  1-2 lane narrow road with no center stripe.  As of 2020 the road was fully paved and in fair condition. 

Traffic:  Minimal - you will see no more than a handful of motor vehicles during your climb.

Parking:  At climb start if you are exiting to the west in the Bakersfield-Visalia area (Map; Street View) or at the top and ride down to the start then back to the summit if you are leaving to the east towards Nine Mile Canyon and Highway 395 (Map; Street View).
Provisions:  There are no provisions along this climb.  The nearest provisions are at the Kennedy Meadows General Store 29 miles east of Sherman Pass - MapStreet View

Weather:  Due to the potential extreme heat during the summer and cold during spring/fall, be sure to consult the PJAMM "Full Forecast" feature for the weather conditions for the start and finish of the climb at the times you expect to be riding.  
We have done this climb twice and each time have come from the east and done it in conjunction with Nine Mile Canyon.  The first time we did these two together we rode the entire route from Highway 395 up Nine Mile Canyon to the start of the Sherman Pass climb and back - 137 miles 17,715' of climbing (Map) - it was 106 degrees coming up the canyon from the start of Sherman Pass - brutal stuff.  Our second go at these two climbs, we did Nine Mile then drove to the start of Sherman Pass and did that one as a stand alone. 



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The Sherman Pass bike climb in California is a very challenging climb in a remote region of the southern Sierra Nevada Mountain Range in the Sequoia National Forest.  Before you get excited about seeing Sequoia National Forest, a la Bear Creek Road, Whitaker Forest, Highway 198, and the like, don’t be misled. While this climb will surely test your climbing abilities, it should not be mistaken for climbs on the southwestern side of the Sierra with much lusher surroundings, not to mention actual Sequoia Redwoods along the routes.  

Sherman Pass is a hot, dry, private climb on a narrow road with minimal traffic.  If you are one to check off the toughest climbs in a state/country/the world, then this is a good climb for you.  If views precede challenge on your priority list, you may rethink this one.  Its landscape has sadly been decimated by wildfires over the years and it lacks a bit on the forest side.  We have climbed this brute twice and know it fairly well.  


Climb begins at Highway 99 adjacent to the Kern River.


Most of our surroundings are high desert and dry.

Gate at mile 6 . . .

. . . not a problem  😉😉


Our cycling friend and frequent contributor, Ron Hawks, toward and at the top of the climb.


Thank you Ron (left) and Bruce (right)!!

Although the views throughout the majority of the Sherman Pass bike climb are generally of arid landscape and distant mountainous terrain, we do enter an alpine setting for the top last third of the climb.  

Beware that the heat during the summer can be stifling. The temperatures when we first climbed Sherman Pass in August 2011 hit 106°F at the bottom of the climb.

Traffic and Roadway Surface Report:  The roadway surface is rough, but major potholes and cracks had been patched within a week of our climb in August 2014.  Descend with caution, as there is gravel/dirt/sand in places, which create a real hazard for the unwary.  The road is narrow with no shoulder, bike lane or center line, although the very few vehicles you will encounter along the way generally travel at low speed.