East Bay Hills: Reliez Valley-Deer Hill-Happy Valley-Pinehurst-Grizzly Peak-Pig Farm

Monday, July 14, 2014

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This route goes up around some of the classic East Bay Hills from Reliez Valley Rd in Martinez to Deer Hill Rd and Happy Valley in Lafayette.  It continues into Orinda on Camino Pablo to Moraga Way into Moraga. Canyon Rd leads to the beautiful climb up Pinehurst Rd to Skyline Blvd and Grizzly Peak Blvd in Oakland. The ride goes down Wildcat Canyon from Berkeley and rolls along San Pablo Dam Rd to Castro Ranch Rd in El Sobrante.  The long stretch on Alhambra Valley Rd leads to the steep climb up Pig Farm Hill.

We jog our way around Martinez on Center Ave and Vine Hill Way to Alhambra Ave and Alhambra Valley Rd.

Reliez Valley Rd leads us south along the eastern edge of Briones Regional Park on rolling terrain into the residential neighborhoods in Lafayette.

At Reliez Valley Ct, the road tilts up for 0.8 miles under a gorgeous canopy of trees to the summit with an average grade of 8.2%.

Reliez Valley Rd comes to a T at Pleasant Hill Rd; this dense traffic area leads us to Deer Hill Rd.

Deer Hill Rd is a very steep climb up to the top of the ridge; it’s 0.2 mile with gradient ranges of 14-17%. You’re rewarded with magnificent views of the Moraga hills and Mt Diablo!

Deer Hill Rd runs parallel to Hwy 24 and drops down on rolling terrain towards the Lafayette BART station and the Cross Memorial to Happy Valley Rd.

Happy Valley Rd gently climbs up the valley through an upscale Lafayette neighborhood for the first 2.2 miles.

At the switchback off White Pine Ln the road tilts up with an average grade of 8.9% for the next 3/10th of a mile to Sundown Terrace.

Sundown Terrace drops down through the residential neighborhoods in Orinda on Dalewood Dr to Lombardy Ln and Miner Rd. Miner Rd winds down through Sleepy Hollow pass the Orinda Country Club to Camino Pablo.

We head SE on Camino Pablo and continue on Moraga Way; this road is the main thoroughfare between the towns of Orinda and Moraga.

The flat terrain on Canyon Rd leads to the bridge crossing over Moraga Creek. The road begins to climb up pass the EBMUD Valle Vista Staging Area with grades of 4-6% and winds down into the canyon to Pinehurst Rd.

The climb up south Pinehurst Rd is a local favorite; it begins on gentle rolling terrain for the first 2.7 miles on an old railroad grade under the deep shade of the towering redwood forest. It follows the curves of San Leandro Creek through the small community of Canyon to the hairpin turn at the gated trail head to Huckleberry Regional Preserve.

Pinehurst Rd continues up through the wooded canyon for the next 0.8 miles on a narrow two lane road with an average grade of 4.7%.

The road kicks up dramatically at the next hairpin turn after the orange 10 mph sign; this is the steepest section of Pinehurst-it’s a 0.5 mile climb with 9-12% grades to the top at Skyline Blvd.

We continue north along the ridge on Skyline Blvd and wind around the Berkeley Hills Oakland neighborhoods pass Huckleberry Botanic Regional Preserve to our lunch stop at Sibley Volcanic Regional Preserve.

South Grizzly Peak Blvd continues on rolling terrain along the top of the ridge with stunning views of the East Bay and SF Bay!


The road winds around the hills before dropping down to the intersection at Claremont Ave and Fish Ranch Rd.

The climb up south Grizzly Peak Blvd is 1.4 miles with an average grade of 4.4%.

The road levels out for a short bit as you near the Steam Trains at Tilden Park up to S Park Dr. There is a very short hump up to the summit at Frowning Ridge. Take the time to stop and take in the spectacular bay views!

The descent on Grizzly Peak Blvd into Berkeley is fairly technical with many tight turns. With the smooth new road surface, it’s very easy to catch yourself going much faster than necessary-use caution!

At the stop sign, we turn right on Golf Course Dr for the fast downhill towards Tilden Park Golf Course. The road kicks up for a short section with grades of 6-8% followed by a shaded descent to Shasta Rd and Wildcat Canyon Rd.

The rolling terrain on Wildcat Canyon Rd goes through Tilden Park along stands of eucalyptus trees to San Pablo Ridge at Inspiration Point. The twisty descent winds down the canyon and leads us back into Orinda.

We head north on San Pablo Dam Rd along the west side of San Pablo Reservoir. The rolling terrain on this busy road goes by fairly quickly as you make your way up to the main entrance to the reservoir. The descent is fast! We drop down into El Sobrante to Castro Ranch Rd.

Castro Ranch climbs up goes through the El Sobrante Hills residential neighborhoods to the summit at Sobrante Ridge.

The straight shot descent from Castro Ranch Rd opens up to spectacular views of Alhambra Valley!


Alhambra Valley Rd is a quiet rural back road with wonderful views of the surrounding rolling hills and valley meadows.

Unfortunately it’s also a dumping ground for lazy people-it’s pretty disgusting!

The rolling terrain roughly follows along Pinole Creek pass a couple of ranches to Bear Creek Rd.

Alhambra Valley Rd climbs up for a short section from the valley vineyard and olive grove up to the ranch house.

The road continues on gentle terrain up to the base of Pig Farm Hill.

The climb up Pig Farm Hill is steep-it’s 0.5 mile with 13-15 grades! On a hot day, this climb can be brutal with the sun beating on your back!

Alhambra Valley snakes down around the shaded canyon to the flats along the lower valley to the junction at Reliez Valley Rd. From this point, we reverse our way back into Martinez on Alhambra Valley to Alhambra Ave and John Muir Rd.

The short cimb up Vine Hill Way leads us to Center, Glacier and Arnold back to Holiday Highlands Park.

This hilly ride goes through a wonderful web of quiet back roads through a region with an abundance of semi wilderness around the regional parks and open spaces mixed with urban residential neighborhoods. It’s fabulous to be able to escape the bustling suburban sprawl and ride through the beautiful forested canyons and ridges around the East Bay Hills!

Garmin Stats:
61.5 miles with 4872′ of elevation gain
Max elevation: 1613′
Max grade: 17%
Terrain: Hilly with a few steep climbs

Weather: Sunny and hot with temps ranging from the low 70’s to the high 90’s. NW winds with 57% humidity

Click here to view the interactive route map & elevation profile


Follow this route for today’s ride:

One Comment

  1. Great updates to your cue sheets. The colors legend is a great idea for quick glance info! jim

    Thanks Jim! nancy


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