Cycling Lee Canyon-Hwy 156 is a Top 25 US Bike Climb
#24 in the US at 17.3 miles, 5,380’ gained to elevation 8,681 at 5.9%.
Nevada’s most difficult bike climb.
This bike climb begins in a fairly desolate and desert-like setting about 30 miles northwest of Las Vegas.
This climb can be extremely hot and probably should be avoided between June and August when the average high temperature ranges from 99 to 104. The first 11 miles are through high desert landscape with many Joshua Trees, which turns gradually to pine and fir forest beginning around Mile 12.
Many Joshua trees along the first segment of the bike climb.
Desert gives way to alpine surroundings as we cycle up Hwy 156.
By the time we top 8,000', we are in a completely different climate zone made up of pine forest and scenic mountain formations. The climb ended at the Las Vegas Ski and Snowboard Resort in 2015 when we rode to the top, but Google Street Views as of December 2018 suggest the climb now continues another quarter mile up the mountain.
The climb is fairly steady, between 4-7%, and with very few higher extended grades throughout.
The Lee Canyon bike climb can be done in conjunction with 3 other climbs in the immediate area (the Hwy 156-158 #34 cycling route shares its first 14 miles with the Lee Canyon climb; #49 Hwy 157-158 and #70 Kyle Canyon/Hwy 157). Be careful if doing this ride without support as the only provisions are likely to be at the Mt Charleston Resort at the end of Hwy 157. Support is highly recommended for any effort involving Lee and Kyle Canyons in the same ride.
Roadway Surface and Traffic: This climb is primarily along a Nevada state highway (Hwy 156) which does not have a shoulder or bike lane to speak of, yet traffic is minimal, making the ride much less nerve-wracking than riding on the busier state highways.