This page contains what we believe are many of the most epic bike climbs in the Southern California. We have listed our Southern California Most Epic Bike Climbs in our summary at the bottom of this page. Note that this is our subjective ranking and is not based on objective data or formula, just our experience and personal opinion. The Top 4 Most Epic Southern California Bike Climbs are 1. Nate Harrison Grade, 2. Palomar Mountain South Grade, 3. Gibraltar Road, and 4. Glendora Mountain Road
Photos clockwise from top left: Nate Harrison Grade;
Gibraltar Road; Center: PJAMM’s Top US 100 jersey at the So Cal beach 🏄
While we normally use the Fiets Index as an objective tool for ranking the difficulty of bike climbs, selecting the “Most Epic” climbs is purely subjective. We have cycled many times in Southern California and traveled the US and world in search of “epic” bike climbs so we do have a decent foundation for the conclusion we present on this page. Nonetheless, the climbs included in the Southern California Most Epic Bike Climbs is certainly subject to debate and we welcome your input on the topic.
Our country and world most epic pages include at least 10 epic climbs. However, because of the relatively smaller pool of climbs to choose from, we have restricted our selections to only the Southern California cycling climbs we consider extraordinary. To qualify for our Southern California list, the climb must be challenging, scenic and fun (or in some fashion “unique”). The list is short, but we unequivocally and highly recommend each of the four climbs on our “short list.”
#4 SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA MOST EPIC BIKE CLIMB
GLENDORA MOUNTAIN ROAD, GLENDORA, LOS ANGELES COUNTY
Cycling GMR - Ride 27 miles gaining 6,645’ at 3.8% average grade.
Many cyclists familiar with Glendora Mountain Road (GMR) and Mt. Baldy Road will question why we selected GMR over Baldy - here’s the reason:
#3 SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA MOST EPIC BIKE CLIMB
GIBRALTAR ROAD, SANTA BARBARA, SANTA BARBARA COUNTY
La Cumbre Peak with Sunrise beyond.
On this amazing bike climb, we ride from the city of Santa Barbara to La Cumbre Peak, the highest point in Santa Barbara County. Along the way we have many clear views of Santa Barbara below us, the Pacific Ocean and Channel Islands. This is the 7th hardest bike climb in all of Southern California and may be the most scenic.
Sunset on Gibralta (earliest photo center then clockwise from top left).
#2 SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA MOST EPIC BIKE CLIMB
PALOMAR MOUNTAIN, PAUMA VALLEY, SAN DIEGO COUNTY
Full disclosure - I am terribly biased in favor of Palomar Mountain - but, in my opinion, this bias is wholly justified. During the four years that my daughter played soccer for UCSD, I left a bike in San Diego and would ride each weekend the team played in San Diego. About half the time I would ride Palomar, even though it was an hour each way to get to the start from La Jolla. I know that mountain like the back of my hand and absolutely adore it. It is also the scene of my worst accident ever on a bike - tire blew at 40 mph on the descent (after the hairpins) and the result was not pleasant 😢.
What makes Palomar such a great climb?
#1 SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA MOST EPIC BIKE CLIMB
NATE HARRISON GRADE, PAUMA VALLEY, SAN DIEGO COUNTY
Nate the Great - this is an EPIC bike climb. We include Nate Harrison Grade in our epic road bike list because you can technically complete it on a road bike (I have done it three times on a Roubaix- once with 25’s, next with 30’s and finally with a 32 knobby on the back and 28 on the front). However, many choose to ride a gravel mountain bike.