Featured Hill climbs

Mountain Climbs Gaining 1000ft or More

New Hampshire and Maine Mountain Climbs

 

Mount Washington, Gorham, NH

Mt. Washington is the biggest climb in the Northeast. The auto road is mostly paved and rises more than 4720 feet in over 7.5 miles, almost a 12 percent average grade. There is also a 22 percent grade section when you near the top!

The climb is truly rising in a monotonical way, with hardly any flat or downhill parts on the way up to catch your breath. There are some extended sections that have well-groomed gravel surfaces that were no problem for my 23-mm tires.

Only two times each year (four times if you include practice rides), bikes are allowed on this private auto road, and that’s only for the Newton Revenge Race (in July) and for the Mt Washington Bicycle Hill Climb (in August). You need to take the provided auto transportation downhill. At the top, the weather can get downright nasty, even in mid-summer.

I remember that one year, it was in the mid-60s at the base, and 38 and extremely windy when we neared the top, and it even snowed at night! There also were years that the race was entirely canceled which also happened to the Six Gaps Hill Climb in Vermont several times.

Favorite Climbs Around America

Here I have compiled data and descriptions of some great climbs I’ve done from elsewhere in the country. Most of these are out west or from Hawaii. New Englanders might have one of the toughest hill climbs in the world with Mt. Washington, but there are many climbs that are either much bigger vertical gain, go to a much higher elevation, or both.

About half of the climbs presented here are 100% paved, and one is 100% singletrack. The others are mixed paved/gravel or entirely from gravel. If you like to climb and have opportunities to travel, maybe there’s something here you’ll like to try sometime.

The climbs are depicted in two different ways: in terms of elevation gain to allow comparison of relative steepness, and in terms of absolute altitude to show how high some of the climbs reach.

The two Hawaiian climbs start at sea level, rising to 10,000 and 13,800 feet. Mt. Evans on the other hand, while finishing above 14,000 feet, starts at 7,555 feet. Because Mauna Kea on the Big Island encompasses both huge elevation gain and high altitude climbing, it easily dwarfs the other climbs presented here in difficulty.

Haleakala, Maui, HI – If this climb weren’t in the middle of the Pacific Ocean 2500 miles from the nearest land, it could perhaps be the most popular bicycle climb in the world. This is quite different from the Six Gaps Hill Climb in Vermont, and the fully paved climb to the summit gains just over 10,000 feet from sea level in less than 38 miles.

At the summit, you are only 6 miles, as the crow flies, from the ocean. Nowhere else in the world can you be this close to the sea at this elevation. Views are stunning everywhere you look, especially the Martian landscape at the summit.

Mount Washington vs Mont Ventoux Climbs

Ever wonder how Mount Washington stacks up against Mont Ventoux?  Whiteface with Alpe d’Huez? This page will give you some insight. I hunted around on the web to find profiles of a few of the most famous climbs of the grand tours (I plan to ride these great climbs soon!).

The chart below compares Mont Ventoux and Alpe d’Huez from the Tour de France, Agliru from the Vuelta a Espana, and Passo dello Stelio from the Giro d’Italia, with New Hampshire’s Mount Washington and New York’s Whiteface Mountain.

As you can see, nothing approaches the steepness of Mount Washington. Angliru comes the closest, with an average grade of 10%. Agliru has sustained pitches that are much greater than 10%, so it is a very challenging climb.

The image here suggests a peak grade at 23.5%! Whiteface and Alpe d’Huez are also similar climbs.  Both gain ~3,500 feet in 8 to 9 miles. Whiteface is slightly steeper, but gains slightly less vertical.

Mont Ventoux compares similarly to Mount Washington when starting from the town of Gorham in terms of the average grade. However, Gorham to the auto road is only a couple percent grade, then the rest of the climb is at 12%.

Mont Ventoux stays right around a much more modest 7% grade. Passo dello Stelvio is a huge climb, a pass through the mountains, gaining just over 6000 feet in elevation. Stelvio was in several stages of the Giro.