Sometimes a mountain biker wants a gentle ride, getting outside and enjoying the scenery with friends. At other times, they just want to push themselves to their physical limit, testing their strength and endurance on the most challenging hill they can find. Unfortunately for climbers, uphill tracks are mainly fire road, with the singletrack being reserved for those heading down. Here are the 7 most challenging off-road climbs in California.
1. Big Boulder Trail, Downieville
The climb up the OHV road to get to the top is one of the hardest in the state, but the downhill makes it worth the effort. The ascent is around 2,000 feet, and the trail includes fire road, 4WD track, and singletrack.
2. Buckhorn Loop (Captain Jack’s Frontside) Santa Barbara
The trail climbs 750 feet in 3.9 miles, with much of the climb being on fire road. You only need to put a little effort in for your legs to feel it. It’s a good trail for a quick ride, with plenty of gradient to keep your heart pumping.
3. Henry W. Coe State Park, Morgan Hill
Coe climbs are arguably the hardest of any park in the state, with the incline starting almost at the gate. Most of the climb is on fire road, but it is worth it. You will feel every one of the 1,500 feet you gain in elevation.
4. Noble Canyon, San Diego
A long, steep, and technically difficult climb awaits riders on their arrival. This trail offers everything a serious climber wants. It’s not for beginners or the faint hearted, and best done with at least one other rider.
5. Old Flume (South Yuba), Nevada City
Another trail that’s not for beginners, this one has parts too steep for many mountain bikers to ride up. The ride starts on a gravel trail.
6. Tahoe Rim Trail, Tahoe City
There are 165 miles of the Tahoe Rim Trail, so there is more than enough to keep even the keenest mountain biker busy. It has a great choice of trails and climbs to suit all technical ability.
This trail is known for its singletrack downhill, but it also has a challenging 700 foot climb in the middle, leading to the Third Divide trailhead, which will need you to dig deep.