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Favorite Hill Climb Loops

Here we have begun compiling a library of great climbing rides. Several of the rides offer over 10,000 feet of climbing in 100 miles. Low traffic back roads and great scenery are the norms. Expect to suffer at least a little.

A few of the rides entail seasonal gravel sections (closed in winter) and may not be suitable for everybody. These sections will be described in detail in each report.

The capstone of all climbing rides in the northeastern part of the country is the Six Gaps of Vermont loop. Per TopoUSA, it punishes those strong enough to complete it with 14,500 feet of climbing in 132 miles. 6-Gaps also contains the steepest paved mile known in the northeast, the east side of Lincoln Gap which averages 20-24% grade for the last mile.

Mt Greylock/Petersburg Pass: A nice loop I’ve done multiple times straddles the border of MA/NY, which roughly lies on the Taconic Crest mountain range (great mountain biking by the way).

The ride starts in North Adams, climbs over Mt. Greylock, and continues west into NY, coming back over Petersburg Pass. There’s a third climb along the way adding hundreds of additional feet of climbing.  Altogether, the ride runs about 62 miles and 5000+ feet of climbing.

The details: Park at Heritage State Park in N. Adams, MA. Climb Mt. Greylock from the north as described on the mountain climbs page. Descend Greylock on the south side, taking a right on Rt 7. Take a left almost right away on Bailey Rd.

You will climb almost 500 feet on this road at a moderately steep grade. Turn left on Brodie Mountain Rd, and left again on Rt 43. Enjoy the brief descent. Continue over the state line into NY.

Mount Equinox Skyline Drive

Mount Equinox, VT – This course climbs Skyline Drive to the summit of Equinox Mountain. Bikes have not been allowed on this private auto road for many years. The Gear Up for Lyme race in 2004 was the first chance for hillclimbers to test their mettle on this beast.

They say the road to Equinox Mountain’s summit has a short 28% grade section, but when I raced this mountain, I never had the impression that any stretch was steeper than 15, perhaps 16%.

The climb has one brief, fast descent the prevents it from being a truly monotonic climb. For the last few years, a $500 cash prime has been offered for the first ride to pass the one-mile mark. $500 for a mile? How hard could that be? Oh, to collect the prize, you must also finish the race within a cutoff window.

The view from the summit is spectacular. Mt Equinox is steep and one of the highest peaks around, so great views abound from several vantage points, especially from the open ridgeline leading to the summit. The road is smoothly paved, tollbooth to the summit. Unfortunately, like Mt Washington, cyclists are not allowed to ride their bikes back down.

Six Gaps

The Six Gaps Bicycle Hill Climb Vermont

Whether you’re up to the challenge of your life or are just looking for a smaller one, you’ll find it all here in Vermont’s Green Mountains.

The Vermont Six Gaps is a ride that you can accomplish in one day or you can decide to do different parts of it instead. Most of it is paved and it has become extremely popular for bike enthusiasts from around the nation.

The air is fresh and crisp in this part of the country with spectacular mountain views and breathtaking scenery at every turn. Here is a brief description of the six various gaps.

You can check out various magazines and brochures about the area and the climb (though some are so complicated that you must really be good at understanding English grammar), but to truly appreciate them, you don’t need magazines, you’ll need to travel here yourself and ride these roads.

Lincoln

This is the big one. This is the gap that separates the highly skilled cyclists from the beginners. This is among the most challenging climbing trails in America and includes a 16% grade section that’s lasting for over a mile.

It is more than 4 miles long with an elevation spanning up to 1,800 feet with a sustained grade of 24% rearing its head at one point along the route.