Sonoma County, California
Our own backyard! We are incredibly lucky to have all the cycling options we do in our home of Sonoma County, and consider ourselves uniquely qualified to offer opinions on the area’s top bike climbs, having done all of them 10+ times over the years. We LOVE cycling in Sonoma County!
Some of the excellent
rustic scenes along Sonoma County’s greatest cycling routes.
Above via (a) the photo collage and (b) the “list” view, you can see the Top 10 Sonoma County Climbs (ranked by the Fiets Index). Below is a list in reverse order of our Top 10 Most Favorite Sonoma County Bike Climbs. The criteria for our list are: (1) Challenge, (2) scenery, (3) popularity and (3) any unique qualities of the climb.
PJAMM’S FAVORITES #10
MOON MOUNTAIN, SONOMA
Ride 2 miles gaining 743’ at 7.1% average grade.
Well, Moon Mountain doesn’t make the Top 10 list because of difficulty, that’s for sure. However, it is one of the most pleasant climbs in the Sonoma Valley area and the finish at Gallo Vineyards is quite scenic - a real Wine Country experience.
PJAMM’S FAVORITE #9
TRINITY GRADE, GLEN ELLEN
Ride 2.9 miles gaining 1,360’ at 8.9% average grade.
Trinity makes the Top 10 for the opposite reason that Moon Mountain did - it is very difficult, but is not scenic whatsoever. This is also a very popular climb and the first big climb of Santa Rosa Cycling Club’s annual Terrible Two.
PJAMM’S FAVORITE #8
IDA CLAYTON ROAD, HEALDSBURG AREA
Ride 4.1 miles gaining 1,807’ at 8.5% average grade.
This is an extremely challenging bike climb that offers exceptional vineyard views along the route. We also have the closest and best view of Mount St. Helena along during portions of the second half of the climb. This is a remote climb where you are unlikely to encounter motor or bicycle traffic during your time on the mountain.
PJAMM’S FAVORITE #7
CAVEDALE ROAD, SONOMA
Ride 4.9 miles gaining 1,900’ at 7.3% average grade.
Center photo - the “Cave” of Cavedale
Cavedale is our #6 because it is challenging, long, is along a very narrow and broken roadway (don’t descend 😒) with some very nice views of the Sonoma Valley and vineyards along a few parts of the climb.
PJAMM’S FAVORITE #6
PINE FLAT ROAD, GEYSERVILLE
Ride 11.2 miles gaining 3,149’ at 4.9% average grade.
The Wall (bottom right and left photo) is 16% for a quarter mile.
Pine Flat is #5 because it is one of the toughest bike climbs in the North Bay. It is also very long, remote and has great views of vineyards, surrounding hillsides and even Mt. St. Helena about half way up. Sadly, much of the scenic draw of Pine Flat was wiped out with the 2019 fires, but it will bounce back 👍
PJAMM’S FAVORITE #5
COLEMAN VALLEY ROAD, BODEGA BAY
Ride 1.6 miles gaining 771’ at 9.1% average grade.
Photo top left - 1975 Montgomery High School Grad Mark Hoffenberg (right)
World and 4 time US Masters cycling champion
This is one of only three climbs (Trinity and Fort Ross are the others) to have been featured in the Tour of California. This climb has the best views of the Pacific Ocean of any Sonoma County climb and the ride from Hwy 1 to Occidental is one of our favorites (just a click below the King Ridge climb).
PJAMM’S FAVORITE #4
FORT ROSS, FORT ROSS
Only by coincidence, this is also the 4th hardest bike climb in Sonoma County.
Ride 2.4 miles gaining 1,353’ at 10.7% average grade.
We love Fort Ross Road! It has the steepest segment of paved road over one mile in Sonoma County (12.8% for 1 mile; 15.8% segment for a ¼ mile). We also ride through the redwoods for half the climb and have great views of the Pacific Ocean at the top.
PJAMM’S FAVORITE #3
GEYSERS ROAD, GEYSERVILLE
Ride 4.1 miles gaining 1,841’ at 8.7% average grade.
The Geysers climb is a solid #3 on our Top 10 list. This climb offers the best views of vineyards of any climb in the North Bay and is also the second most difficult bike climb in Sonoma County.
PJAMM’S FAVORITE #2
KING RIDGE, CAZADERO
King Ridge full climb
Ride 16.5 miles at 1.1% (because there are several descents along the route).
We believe that most cyclists familiar with Sonoma County would list King Ridge as their #1 Favorite Sonoma County Bike Climb. We list King Ridge at #2 not because of any fault we have with it, but, rather, because #1 is just so exceptional. King Ridge is an extremely scenic and remote Sonoma County bike climb that is hard to beat anywhere in the North Bay. Along the climb we have great views of distant hillsides and plenty of pastureland with grazing cattle. This is a Bucket List climb and is the centerpiece of Levi’s Gran Fondo.
PJAMM’S FAVORITE SONOMA COUNTY BIKE CLIMB
BALD MOUNTAIN, KENWOOD
Ride 4.1 miles gaining 2,050’ at 9.5% average grade.
This is our favorite Sonoma County climb because:
- It is very difficult - the hardest ranked bike climb in Sonoma County.
- It is remote - no traffic after the first mile - the road is closed to vehicular traffic.
- It is the only Sonoma County climb that has 360° views at the top - views of:
- Mt. St. Helena;
- Mt. Tamalpais;
- Napa Valley; and
- Sonoma Valley.
Because the last ¼ mile is dirt and gravel, we recommend using a bike with a gravel tire on the back - and low gearing because the last segment is extremely steep.
 The Fiets Index (developed by the Dutch cycling magazine Fiets).
The actual formula is: [H^2/D*10] + (T-1000:1000; but only if greater than 0)
- H = ending elevation minus starting elevation in meters.
- D = total distance traveled in meters.
- T = Height in meters.
Note: Only add T-1000 if that number is greater than zero.