Utah’s Top 5 Bike Climbs - clockwise from top left
#5 Hwy 143 (Brian Head); #4 Big Cottonwood Canyon;
#3 Little Cottonwood Canyon; #2 Guardsman Pass; #1 Powder Mountain (center)
Utah has some very challenging bike climbs (six in the US Top 50 and nine in the Top 100), Below are the top 5 most difficult road bike climbs in Utah, in reverse order.
#5 HARDEST UTAH BIKE CLIMB
HWY 143 (BRIAN HEAD), PAROWAN
Ride 14 miles gaining 4,375’ at 5.9% average grade.
Topping out at 10,585’ this is the second highest road bike climb in Utah, just behind Bald Mountain Pass in northern Utah. We climb to and then 3 miles past Brian Head Ski Resort on this long and difficult southwestrn Utah bike climb.
#4 HARDEST UTAH BIKE CLIMB
BIG COTTONWOOD CANYON, COTTONWOOD HEIGHTS
Ride 17 miles gaining 5,052’ at 5.5% average grade.
This is a popular road bike climb that begins south of Salt Lake City. We ride past Solitude Ski Resort at mile 12 and then turn left onto Guardsman Pass Road at Brighton Ski Resort. This is also the western approach to Guardsman Pass.
#3 HARDEST UTAH BIKE CLIMB
LITTLE COTTONWOOD CANYON, SANDY
Ride 10.5 miles gaining 4,010’ to elevation 9,393’ at 7.2% average grade.
This bike climb takes us past two of the great ski resorts in the United States - Snowbird (one of my all time favorites) and Alta (no snowboarding 🙁). We end this climb on hard packed dirt and gravel just below Alta’s Sunnyside lift.
SECOND HARDEST UTAH BIKE CLIMB
GUARDSMANS PASS, MIDWAY
#15 US / #122 WORLD
Ride only 8.8 miles but gain 3,927’ to 9,393’ at 8.5% average grade.
Guardsman Pass from Midway is amongst the best cycling climbs in Utah. This is also the second most difficult climb by bike in Utah and shares its first seven miles with Empire Pass. Guardsman Pass begins just north of Midway, Utah and can be reached by three routes: from Midway, Park City, or via Big Cottonwood Canyon. The Midway ascent to Guardsman Pass is very narrow and rough, but with very little traffic. The climb is steep throughout with it's most challenging section the 1.4 miles from 0.95 - 2.3 miles at 11.8% average grade. The last 1.7 miles from the intersection of Guardsman and Empire Passes of roadway is no more than a wide single lane in very poor condition.
THE HARDEST UTAH BIKE CLIMB
POWDER MOUNTAIN, EDEN
#11 US/#98 WORLD
Bring your climbing legs for the very challenging Powder Mountain bike climb near Salt Lake City, Utah. The ride begins with a modest 5.2% average grade for the first two miles, and ends with 5.6 miles of 11.1% average grade, with Mile 3-4 at 13.8%.