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This bucket list climb is one of the most challenging, but rewarding efforts, a serious cyclist can tackle—there’s a reason this ride is considered one of the best in the area. The major steep, sharp climb takes place on the second half of the route, but the first section is no mean feat, either. Get ready to feel the burn in your quads and your lungs on what is said to be California’s highest paved road.

What Makes It Great

While it’s generally accepted that the ride starts on Lower Rock Creek Rd/Old Sherwin Grade/ Sherwin Grade Rd. heading north out of Bishop, it’s definitely possible to hop on your bike straight out of your hotel room and start pedaling. It may add a few more miles, but we like to consider it a warm-up, because once you get on the route, the climbing starts. The first nine miles will be at a 4.3% grade, but the road conditions here are great—no potholes or bumps to throw off your rhythm.

From your lodging in downtown Bishop, take HWY 168 west to Ed Powers Road, then connect with South Round Valley Road to Pine Creek. Then start climbing up Lower Rock Creek Road, with a steep, 5.7% average grade for the next 10.5 miles. Luckily the scenery also becomes even more beautiful, so you might be able to distract yourself a bit as you leave the foothills behind and head into an alpine setting. There is a bike lane here, which is surprising on such a quiet road, but this is a very cyclist-friendly road.

If you need a break, stop at Tom’s Place or at the Rock Creek Resort and Grill, one of your last landmarks at mile 18.8. It’s a great place to take a breather or stop to refuel, unless you would prefer to continue the last push to the end. The road up to Mosquito Flat, where you will dead end and turn around, is also in great shape and well-maintained.

Who is Going to Love It

This is a ride for well-conditioned cyclists looking to challenge their mental and physical endurance. It’s a serious physical feat, but it’s also a beautiful ride.

Directions, Parking, & Regulations

The ride begins at the intersection of Lower Rock Creek Rd./Old Sherwin Rd. and Boundary Rd., which is 3.7 miles north of the Pine Creek Rd. and 15 miles north of Bishop. You might be able to find parking in this area, but it would be best to get a ride there or cycle to this spot from town.

Featured image provided by Michael McDermott

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