Mt. Baldy Bike Climb - PJAMM Cycling

10.3
FIETS
13.1 mi
DISTANCE
4,748 ft
GAINED
6.7 %
AVG. GRADE

FULL CLIMB STATS

Page Contributor(s): Bruce Hamilton, La Quinta, CA, USA; Stacy Topping, Tacoma, WA, USA

INTRO

The Mt. Baldy Road route to the Mt. Baldy Resort is the hardest (#3 in Southern CA), but least scenic and least popular, route to the top. This bike climb is along a busy road without much shoulder and has two tunnels along the way. If you are interested in the most challenging Mt. Baldy bike climb route, take this one. If you prefer the more scenic with less traffic, go by way of Glendora Mountain and Glendora Ridge Roads.
6.7% average grade (7.6% if descent is eliminated from the gradient equation).  46% (6.1 miles) is at grade 5-10% and 20% (2.6 miles) 10-15%.  The steepest quarter mile is 13.7% and steepest mile 10.4%. 

See more details and tools regarding this climb's grade via the “Profile Tool” button above.
Roadway:  The roadway is in very good shape from start to finish.

Traffic:  Here is why we recommend the Glendora Mountain Road approach to Mt. Baldy Resort - unless you leave very early in the morning (unless during ski season when the road is packed with winter sport enthusiasts) you will encounter significant and fast moving traffic for the first eight miles of the climb to Mt. Baldy Village.  The last five miles through and after the village are not a problem. 

Parking:  There is public parking at the start of this climb - MapStreet View.
You finish this climb at a ski resort over 4,500' higher than your starting point so plan accordingly - it can be very cold at the top at times other than the summer. Review PJAMM's Weather Tool for the summit forecast to fully prepare for your trip. 
Before heading out on any cycling adventure check out our Things to Bring on a Cycling Trip and use our interactive check list to ensure you don't forget anything.
We enjoy eating at the Mt. Baldy Lodge on our descent - it is very cycling friendly - Map; Street View.

You could stay in Ontario, near the start of the climb.  Additionally, the Mt. Baldy ski area has many options for private vacation rentals and cabins for those who want a mountain vacation.

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CLIMB SUMMARY

Cyclist on Mt. Baldy Road - bike, sign, PJAMM

Cycling Mt. Baldy - one of Southern California’s toughest bike climbs.

Ride 13.1 miles gaining 4,748’ at 6.7% average grade.

This is one of three routes to the top of Mt. Baldy:

  • Mt. Baldy Road (traditional route) - 13.1 miles at 6.7%
  • GMR to Mt. Baldy (the climb summarized on this page) - 27 miles at 3.8% (7.4% w/o descents)
  • Hwy 39 to Mt. Baldy - 27.3 miles at 3.5% (5.7% w/o descents)

“Giant Mount Baldy, located in the scenic San Gabriel Mountains just northeast of Los Angeles, is a big climb and a contender for the most difficult in Southern California. It runs along a two lane road with a variable grade and finishes between big mountain walls. It now also has professional cycling history on its slopes as sections of the route have been used multiple times in the Tour of California. The start is close to big city clutter but with scenic views leading into the mountains and this hill is a must do ascent for serious climbers.

As you begin the climb the first two miles are fairly shallow and then the grade picks up. Soon the route enters a drainage and heads north along moderate grade and with big mountains looming in front of you. The grade increases just after the two short tunnels which appear around the five mile mark as you continue to ascend the ridgeline. Soon find a fairly sharp descent but it is short and stout climbing resumes. The slope moderates before you pass the junction of Glendora Ridge Road on the left. Stay straight to enter the mountain village of Mount Baldy where you encounter some congestion/vehicles at times. Just beyond the village however the true nature of the hill reveals itself. The road here seems caught between sowaring mountain walls as the grade gradually increases beyond a bridge over a drainage. Jagged rocks seem to be everywhere and give the impression of trouble ahead. Just under 10 miles in, turn left to pass the 5,000 ft elevation sign and encounter steeper grade and a more sinuous road. This final section is classic alpine climbing as it is narrow and twisty and contains ramps of 10-14% in places and is the key stretch to making the summit. Robert Gesnic put in a spectacular performance through this stretch to win a stage in the 2012 Tour of California which locked up his overall race win that year. You encounter multiple tight switchbacks, one of which contain the maximum grade on the hill and will very likely get your attention. Once beyond the switchbacks the road straightens a bit. At the sign for the Mount Baldy Ski Area, turn left where the grade finally eases as you enter a parking area. Follow the parking lots uphill to the very top of the listed climb.

As mentioned much of Mount Baldy’s route was used during a stage in both the 2011 and 2012 Tours of California and made an impression on the top professionals as everyone can struggle on this hill. It is significantly longer and almost as steep as the famous Tourmalet in France and has a more difficult finishing stretch. Its upper section is a particularly difficult descent as well.”

(This quote is presented with the approval of John Summerson, from his book, The Complete Guide to Climbing (by Bike), 2nd Edition, pg. 158.)

Cycling Mt. Baldy - aerial drone photo of Glendora Mountain Road and Mt. Baldy Road and canyon.

Aerial drone photo:  View southwest from hairpins above mile hairpins mile 9.5.

Before heading out to adventure up Mt. Baldy, be sure to rely on our list of Things to Bring on a Cycling Trip, and use our interactive checklist to ensure you don't forget anything.

Most Challenging Route:  This is the most challenging but not the most scenic of ascents to the top of Mt. Baldy (see GMR, below and GMR Climb Page).  The main Baldy route travels from North Mills Road 13.1 miles to Mt. Baldy Resort parking lot -- the mountain finish for many Tour of California stages. The fifth hardest bike climb in the US is accessed by turning left onto Falls Road about 100 yards from the Mt. Baldy Ski Resort sign a half mile from the finish and then riding to The Notch at the top of the ski mountain 3 miles up a gravel road (Mt. Baldy to the very top).

Begin climb by riding up Mt. Baldy Road from its “T” intersection with N. Mills Ave.

Cycling Mt. Baldy - cyclist on bike riding up to Mt Baldy Resort sign

Enter Angeles National Forest (est. 1908; 655,387 acres) at mile 2.6.

The first eight miles of this ride are unspectacular and through arid, high desert landscape with dry grass during the summer and scattered desert shrubs.

We have to cycle through two tunnels at about Mile 5.2 to 5.4 which are about 50-100 yards in length and, although they are lighted, can be treacherous – flashing red lights for this part of the ride are highly recommended. Traffic is fairly heavy and fast over this section of the climb.

Open ...Open ...

We enter Baldy Village at Mile 8, and the remainder of the ride is more scenic.  Once we turn from Mt. Baldy Highway at the Icehouse (Mile 9.8), we begin the crux of this climb. The final 2.9 miles of the ride to the Mt. Baldy Ski Resort sign at the top of the steep climb is 9.5% average grade and an elevation gain of 1,442’.  The final segment of this ride from the Village to the Ski Resort is low traffic and more scenic.  

Mt. Baldy Village -- Mile 8.  

We highly recommend you have a meal at Mt. Baldy Lodge.

They are definitely bike friendly.

There is a water fountain at the Mt. Baldy Post office just before Mt. Baldy Lodge.  

Bear crossing sign Mt Baldy Road, Southern CA

Though we’re only a few miles from LA, it gets rural quick.

Saw a coyote a mile south of Baldy Village August, 2019

Bear left and stay on Mt. Baldy Road at mile 9.7 where the hairpins begin.

     Hairpin curve on Mt Baldy Road

5 of the 12 switchbacks on the last three miles.

We hit 5,000’ soon after beginning the hairpins.

Riding up one of 12 hairpins over the last 3 miles.

Cycling Mt. Baldy - cyclist on bike riding up to Mt Baldy Resort sign

Cycling Mt. Baldy - cyclist on bike riding up to Mt Baldy Resort sign

Sign just before the left turn to the ski resort parking lot.

Ski resort ticket booth 4/10’s mile further

The ¼ mile leading to the Mt. Baldy sign is the steepest of the entire climb (13.3% average).

You WILL encounter snow during the winter . . .

. . . the climb ends at a ski resort, after all.  🙂

AMGEN TOUR OF CALIFORNIA

Bear crossing sign Mt Baldy Road, Southern CA 

Andrew Talansky wins Mt. Baldy Stage 5 of the 2017 Tour of California.

Photo:  SoCalCycling.com

Stage 6 2019 Tour of California - PJAMM Cycling cyclists with bike and partiers on mt baldy

It is always a raucous crowd during a ToC Mt. Baldy stage.

After Stage 6 of the 2019 Tour of California is complete, Mt. Baldy will have been a stage finish five of the 18 years the Tour has been held (each year since 2006).  The route on the Mt. Baldy stage is always the same route, as follows:

The route for all five ToC Mt. Baldy mountain-top finish stages (2019 Map).

The General Tour of California Mt. Baldy Route is:

  • Start in Ontario and ride to Mt. Baldy Road.
  • Ride climb Mt. Baldy Road to the town of Mt. Baldy.
  • Turn left at town of Mt. Baldy onto Glendora Ridge Road.
  • Ride Glendora Ridge Road to its intersection with Glendora Mountain Road.
  • Turn right onto Glendora Mountain Road and ride to East Fork Road.
  • Ride East Fork Road to Highway 39.
  • Ride Highway 39 south towards Azusa, past San Gabriel Reservoir to Sierra Madre Road.
  • Ride Sierra Madre Road to Glendora Mountain Road.
  • Climb Glendora Mountain Road to Glendora Ridge Road on to the village of Mt. Baldy.
  • Turn onto Mt. Baldy Road and continue five miles to the finish of the climb at Mt. Baldy Resort.

Chris Horner wins 2011 ToC, but Levi gets stage 7!

Robert Gesink wins 2012 Stage 6.

After Mt. Hamilton in Northern California (East Bay/Silicon Valley), Mt. Baldy has been included in more Amgen Tours than any other mountain climb.

 

Tadej Pogačar wins 2019 Stage 6.

Beginning 16 seconds behind at the beginning of Stage 16, Tadej Pogačar won the Queen Stage (Stage 6) on May 17, 2019 and held on for the overall win in 2019 making him at 20 the youngest winner of the ToC ever.

2015 -- Jullian Alaphilippe.

Stage Profile for all Glendora Mountain / Mt. Baldy ToC stages.

Summary from 2015 Tour of California Website:

            “Route Information: May 16, 2015 - Stage 7 Finish


The climb up to Mt. Baldy is an integral part of the Amgen Tour of California’s nine-year history. Since 2011, when it was first introduced as the race’s first true mountaintop finish, the steep switchbacks up to the Mt. Baldy Ski Area at 6,500 feet elevation have served as the deciding factor in crowning the overall champion. Due to overwhelming demand from the fans, Mt. Baldy is back for the Amgen Tour of California 10th Anniversary after a two-year hiatus!
Mt. Baldy is located 45 miles from downtown Los Angeles and is a popular location for hikers, sightseers and cyclists. During autumn, spring, and summer you will find hundreds to thousands of outdoor enthusiasts traveling Mt. Baldy every week to summit the tallest peak in Los Angeles County, Mt. San Antonio (Elevation 10,068 feet), which is accessible from a trail network originating at the Mt. Baldy Ski Area. For those who prefer a two-wheeled adventure, cyclists from far and wide visit Mt. Baldy to climb the challenging switchbacks, which ascend over 2,000 in only 4.3 miles (9% average gradient). In the winter months Mt. Baldy is known for its steep ski terrain and easy access from the big city below.”  See also -
2019 ToC summary of Baldy Stage.

GLENDORA MOUNTAIN ROAD (GMR)

Glendora Mountain Road:  This is the more scenic alternative to the Mt Baldy Road route.  This version of the Mount Baldy bike climb begins at the corner of E. Sierra Madre Avenue and Glendora Mountain Road in Glendora, California.  We did not include this ride on our Top 100 list because it has 1,115' of descent which takes it out of the "nearly all" continuous climb category. It would rank #97 on our list if included, with a Fiets Index Score of 7.33.  GMR (as it is referred to in Southern California) begins its ascent between Mt Baldy Road to the East and Highway 39 (Dawson Saddle and Crystal Lake) to the West.  This climb shares its last 4.5 miles with the Mt Baldy climb.  Distance:  26.69 miles, 6,646’ ascended, -1,115’ descent, average grade 3.4%.

SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA’S TOP BIKE CLIMBS

Top Southern California Road Bike Climbs - clockwise from top left to middle:

Nate Harrison Grade, San Diego; Gibraltar Road, Santa Barbara; Palomar Mountain, San Diego

Glendora Mountain Road, Los Angeles; Mt. Baldy, Los Angeles

That’s a wrap!