Santa Cruz County - Top Bike Climbs

#1
Alba Road
USA, CA
#2
Jamison Creek Road
USA, CA
#3
Bonny Doon
USA, CA
#4
Mt. Madonna Road
USA, CA
#5
Felton Empire Road
USA, CA
#6
Empire Grade
USA, CA
#8
Bear Creek Road - Boulder Creek
USA, CA
#9
Zayante Road
USA, CA
#10
Hecker Pass
USA, CA
#11
Eureka Canyon
USA, CA

Climb List: Santa Cruz County
(sort by distance, difficulty, elevation and more)

Cycling Santa Cruz County

Cycling Santa Cruz County - cyclists riding under redwood trees, Alba Schoolhouse,  historic landmark placard

The Big Dog of bike climbs in the Santa Cruz Mountains:

Alba Road - #1 Santa Cruz County; #3 South Bay; #6 Bay Area.

Ride 3.8 miles gaining 2,040’ at 10.3% average grade.

Cycling Santa Cruz County - photo collage, Surfer Museum, lighthouse, Natural Bridges, Surfer Memorial, Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk

Sites to see in Santa Cruz, clockwise from top left:

Beach Boardwalk; Surfer Museum; Natural Bridges; Surfer Memorial; Beach Boardwalk again.

All in the town of Santa Cruz.

Cycling in the Santa Cruz mountains is a wonderful experience.  There are many fairly challenging climbs in this county, many of which pass through Redwood stands on minimally travelled roads.  The weather is moderate, but somewhat warmer in the Ben Lomond/Felton area than one would guess during the summer (mid-80s in June and July).  Of course the temperatures drop by about 10 degrees as we cycle west (e.g. Bonny Doon).  

Cycling Santa Cruz County - photo collage, cyclists riding under redwood trees, street sign for Bonny Doon Road, lush greenery, curved road, 10% grade street sign

Santa Cruz County Top 3

#1 Alba Road, photo top left and center; #2 Jamison Road bottom right

#3 Bonny Doon Road top and bottom right.

THE HARDEST BIKE CLIMB IN SANTA CRUZ COUNTY

ALBA ROAD

Cycling Alba Road - riding through redwoods; alba schoolhouse

Alba Road is scenic and surrounded by redwood forest the entire climb which makes it quite scenic.  However, this climb is extremely difficult with double digit average grade for its entire 3.8 miles (steepest quarter mile is 16.8%).

THE MOST SCENIC BIKE CLIMB IN SANTA CRUZ COUNTY

MT. MADONNA

This is a remote single lane climb for much of it through redwood forest with some exceptional views of Watsonville and beyond.

THE MOST EPIC BIKE CLIMB IN SANTA CRUZ COUNTY

EUREKA CANYON

Cycling Eureka Canyon, Santa Cruz Mountains - photo collage: front facade of Corralitos Market & Sausage Co., Spanish style brown building, old weathered brown wood barn with bike leaning against front door, bike resting along fern-covered hillside wall along two-lane road surrounded by redwood trees, bike leaning against wooden railing of wood bridge over creek bed in forest, bike on top of hillside covered in pine trees, fog rolling in across mountainside, PJAMM cycling jersey draped over bike

This is our favorite bike climb in Santa Cruz County.  The road is extremely narrow, rough and remote - you won’t encounter many cars on this ride.  We cannot recommend this one enough.  

Cycling Santa Cruz County - photo collage, Neptune's Kingdom storefront, Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk sign, palm trees, roller coaster, wooden pier with roadbike, wooden roller coaster, road bike in front of Casino Arcade sign

If you are in town, be sure to visit the Boardwalk.

The Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk is a historic boardwalk, known to be the world’s oldest seaside park.  The boardwalk has been in operation since 1907, and (as a major plus) remains admission free to this day.  The area includes rides, vendors, arcades, places to eat, mini golf, and it’s all located on a beautiful beach within the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary area.  If you visit, be sure to check out the Giant Dipper roller coaster -- a wooden coaster built in 1924 that is actually registered as a National Historic Landmark!

Cycling Santa Cruz County - Arial view of Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk

That’s a wrap!!