Cycling Big Mountain Road, Montana
Ride 4.8 miles gaining 1,640’ at 6.5% average grade.
PJAMM’s Bruce Hamilton at the start of the climb.
Bruce’s climb summary:
Big Mountain starts at the east shore of Whitefish Lake a couple of miles north of Whitefish. It’s just under five miles and about 1700 feet of elevation gain to ride to the end of the road at the ski resort. There are residential areas on the mountain and these go higher. You can ride a paved road through a very nice housing development and top out at over 5000 feet (the ski area parking lot is at about 4700 feet).
It’s a short climb by PJAMM standards but it’s not an easy one. While it does average 6.5% for the five miles, the first and last mile are lower grade and the middle three miles are a steady 8-9%. There are some residential areas near the bottom and the first mile or so has a bit more traffic and the grade is not too steep. Once you’re above the housing at the bottom of the mountain the road widens and there is a section of three miles or so that is wide and open with a six foot shoulder and lighter traffic. Only a couple of broken views of the Whitefish Lake on the way up but many nice views once you reach the last mile. The grade lessens as you approach the ski area and neighborhoods at the top and riding around near the top provides many beautiful views and photo opportunities.