While this will always be up for conversation, Gravel Bike California maintains that Mount Baldy is the most iconic climb in this state.
I can the first three of my criteria argued against when you debate beauty, toughness and the variety contained within, but my final component of historical value is what separates it from the rest.
No stage has held more drama on the Tour of California as Mount Baldy with recent memories of Tadej Pogacar asserting himself into elite status in 2019 and Peter Sagan fighting to stay with Julian Alaphillipe in 2015.
As you’ve noticed, this is a gravel page and that’s a road race, but the two worlds converge to produce something even better.
Not too many people know about Mount Baldy gravel, but just shy of reaching the end of the ski lifts, there’s a dirt off shoot that extends your ride and takes you to elevations above.
It is perfectly placed right after my favorite section the “switchbacks” and my least favorite, the 13% kicker that no rider is ever prepared for.
The first half mile turning towards Mount Baldy gravel is actually paved as climbing around the locked gate leads you to a perfectly placed view of San Antonio falls.
Right at that hairpin, you immediately hit dirt which takes you three miles up before reaching the Top of the Notch.
Even though the road is covered with snow a few months of the year, it’s in great shape.
What surprises you is even though it averages 8.8% for the climb, the slope is fairly consistent the whole way up.
The road whips around so much that you give up on orienting yourself and just enjoy the changes in scenery along the way.
Reaching the lodge at the top is a great place to grab food, water and even an adult beverage if that’s your fancy.
While biking up to the top of Mount Baldy isn’t in the wheelhouse for two wheels, you can continue north down towards Lytle Creek for a challenging 50 mile loop around I-15, but we had a full enough day to warrant turning around.
As if the ride wasn’t already great, but the descent is fabulous too through the handlebar gripping switchbacks to the freeway speeds on the straightaways.
There’s a lot of great options for dirt in the Southern California area, but Mount Baldy gravel is up there for most epic.