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.

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.