Cycling and climbing by bike the top climbs in the San Francisco South Bay (cycling Santa Clara and Santa Cruz counties). Cycling, riding and climbing the top, most difficult, hardest, challenging, extreme, best, scenic, inspiring, bucket list climbs in the San Francisco South Bay Area. These climbs can be viewed via the map below (scroll in to view climbs in particular areas), by a detailed list of the climbs that can be arranged by difficulty, distance (longest climbs in the area), altitude gained, highest elevation (highest summit), average grade (sort the grades by varying distances), lowest start point, etc. You can also view the Top 10 most difficult climbs in the county. Click on "Climb Page" to jump to the detail page for that particular bike climb.
Photos clockwise from top left
The top 5 bike climbs in the south bay are, in descending order:
SOUTH BAY #5 BIKE CLIMB
Although a stone’s throw from Silicon Valley . . . .
. . . this area has its share of wilderness . . .
Ride 4.2 miles gaining 2,006’ at 9% average grade.
SOUTH BAY #4
Ride 5.4 miles gaining 2,413’ at 8.5% average grade.
A remote bike climb due east of Lexington Reservoir.
SOUTH BAY #3
Ride through thick redwood forest on a minimally travelled road past historic Alba School House
Ride 3.8 miles gaining 2,040’ at 10.3% average grade.
SOUTH BAY #2
The easier route up Mt. Umunhum 😕
Ride 5.5 miles gaining 2,697’ at 9.3% average grade.
Hicks Road South up Mt. Umunhum is the second most difficult bike climb in Santa Clara County, behind only Mt. Umunhum North. Hicks-Umunhum South begins at the western end of Almaden Reservoir. At 3,486 feet, Mt. Umunhum is one of the highest peaks in the Santa Cruz Mountain Range, and is part of the Sierra Azul Open Space Preserve. The summit of Mt. Umunhum has been newly restored and revived by the Midpeninsula Open Space District (MOSD), and has been recently reopened for public access. From the peak beautiful panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean and the Sierra Nevada mountain range can be enjoyed.
THE TOP BIKE CLIMB IN THE SOUTH BAY
SANTA CLARA COUNTY
Cycling Hicks Road-Mount Umunhum from the north (the southern tip of Guadalupe Reservoir)
Ride 5.1 miles gaining 2,673’ at 10% average grade.
This is the most difficult bike climb in the Bay Area, and one of the most popular as well. Although the climb officially ends short of The Cube, be sure to continue another 1½ miles from the finish to the Mt. Umunhum Cube, a five story Cold War era radio building built in the early 1960’s that is now out of commission.
That’s the profile of a very difficult road bike climb.
How does Umunhum rank in Santa Clara County, California, the United States, and the world, compared to the other top bike climbs?
THE MOST POPULAR BIKE CLIMB IN THE SOUTH BAY
SANTA CLARA COUNTY
Cycling Mt. Hamilton West is the most popular bike climb in Santa Clara County
Ride 18.4 miles gaining 4,300’ at 4% average grade.
Over 10,000 Strava members have climbed Hamilton as of April, 2020
Mt. Hamilton is the most popular bike climb in the South Bay and has been featured in more Tour of California races than any other climb (see Tour of California section below). On any given day, particularly weekdays, you are bound to see many cyclists on this very fun road bike climb.
Final mile to the summit.
Mt. Hamilton is the most featured mountain climb in the history of the Tour of California, having been featured six times between 2006-2019. Mt. Hamilton has never been a mountain-top finish in the ToC. (Note that ToC is on hiatus for 2020.)
Legendary hill climber Phil Gaimon hold the KOM on Hamilton against 10,000 Stava members.