Saturday, January 3, 2015
Day 3-Three Peaks Weekend: This out and back route starts from San Jose along Mt. Hamilton Road to Lick Observatory. The road follows a gradual grade for 19 miles laid out over a century ago for horses and carts to the summit of Mt Hamilton.
We exit Cataldi Park and jog around the city streets of San Jose to Alum Rock Ave.
Mt Hamilton stands 4200′ and is the tallest mountain overlooking Santa Clara Valley. The road leading up to Lick Observatory at the Mt Hamilton summit is 19 miles long; it’s three climbing segments with each section separated by descents of 2 miles and 1 mile.
The first climb on Mt Hamilton Rd up to the top of the first ridge is about 6 miles long with an average grade of 4.7%. Mt Hamilton Rd to Darios Ranch:
Along mountain ridge to Grandview Restaurant:
This section of Mt Hamilton Rd offers impressive views of the wide urban sprawl of Santa Clara County.
The road levels out for a short bit when you pass the Mt Hamilton Grandview Restaurant at the ridge top homes and ranches.
Mt Hamilton Rd continues to climb; you’re near the top when you see the power lines.
The 2 mile descent drops to Joseph D Grant County Park at Halls Valley. The water fountain at Grant Lake Trailhead is currently shut off-stop at Grant County Park; it’s the last chance to get water before continuing on up the mountain.
The second climb begins from the base of Mt Hamilton at Halls Valley. The ascent to the second ridge is 3 miles long with an average grade of 4.8%.
This segment of the climb offers stunning views of the mountains in the Diablo Range, expansive grasslands and majestic oak woodlands. Flocks of wild turkeys can also be seen around the golden hillsides.
You’re at the top of this climb when you see the transmission towers above the Twin Gates Trailhead sign. There is a porta-pottie available at the trail gate but no water.
The mile long descent drops down to the bridge crossing at Smith Creek and the CDF Station.
The last climb up to Lick Observatory from Smith Creek is 6.4 miles with an average grade of 6%. This segment of the climb has more sun exposure with a few sections going underneath a canopy of trees.
When you get sight of the summit and the end seems near, you’ll come upon the sign that reads 5 miles to Lick Observatory-just keep pedaling!
The eastern views of the Diablo Range of the Coastal Mountains are outstanding!
Mt Hamilton Rd steadily winds up the mountain.
The views are simply amazing at every turn:
The last few steeper switchbacks lead up to the junction at Mt Hamilton Rd/CA-130 and San Antonio Rd/CA-130 East.
The steep narrow driveway takes us up to the parking lot at Lick Observatory. It’s a cool 52F at the top of the mountain.
The mountains views are spectacular; it’s amazing to look down and see that you’ve actually climbed up “THAT ROAD” to be up here-WOW! There’s a snack and soda vending machine located near the rear access of the building with water and restrooms available inside.
We descend Mt Hamilton Rd to the Smith Creek crossing; there is a climb back up to Twin Gates Trailhead.
The road descends into Halls Valley-we spot a Bobcat roaming the valley floor-WOW!
The climb from the valley leads back up to the first ridge.
We descend Mt Hamilton Rd to Alum Rock Ave.
From Alum Rock Ave, we retrace our steps along the city streets to Cataldi Park.
What a perfect day to ascend Mt Hamilton-cool climbing temps with calm to mild winds. This ride completes the Bay Area Three Peaks Weekend-fabulous!
HAPPY NEW YEAR! Wishing you all much peace, happiness, love and good health for 2015!
46.33 Miles with 5200′ of elevation gain
Max elevation: 4054′
Max grade: 8%
Terrain: Extremely hilly
Weather: Clear skies, sunny and cool. Temps ranged from the low 40’s to the low 50’s. Mild NE winds with 65% humidity.
Follow this route for today’s ride: