East Bay Hills: Bears-El Toyonal-Alta Vista-Lomas Contadas-Pinehurst-Happy Valley-Pig Farm

Saturday, May 2, 2015

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This is yet another variation of a route around the East Bay Hills. Climb east Pig Farm Hill and continue along the Bears on Bear Creek Rd into Orinda. Climb El Toyonal and Loma Vista to Alta Vista and Lomas Contadas up to Grizzly Peak Blvd. Head south on Grizzly Peak Blvd to Skyline and drop down through the redwoods on Redwood Rd to Pinehurst. Climb south Pinehurst to Canyon Rd into Moraga and continue north on St Mary’s Rd into Lafayette. Climb Happy Valley Rd to Bear Creek Rd and continue up the backside of Mama Bear. Complete the ride with a stiff climb up west Pig Farm Hill before rolling down Alhambra Valley Rd back to Martinez.

Head out of Martinez on Arnold to Glacier and Vine Hill to Alhambra Ave.

The flat-rolling terrain on Alhambra Valley Rd leads to the junction at Reliez Valley Rd.

Alhambra Valley Rd continues west on flat terrain through a small residential community with front yard vineyards, orchards, and acreage homes.

After passing Deer Creek Dr, the two lane road narrows as it continues through the wooded canyon for the next couple of miles; the rolling climbs leads up to the base of east Pig Farm Hill.

The climb up east Pig Farm Hill begins at the orange left turn sign; the half mile stretch up to the summit has gradient ranges of 7-8% followed by a fast descent into the valley.

The first 1.6 miles on Bear Creek Rd goes through the “horse country” around Briones with a concentration of horse ranches, farms, training facilities and stables.

The half mile climb up Mama Bear has gradient ranges of 7-8%; you can catch a glimpse of Briones Reservoir as you roll over the top of Lawson Hill.

Mama Bear continues ascending over a few more humps before descending into Briones Valley to Happy Valley Rd.

Papa Bear is 0.7 miles with a steady grade of 7% followed by a small bump before the fast downhill on Pumphouse Grade. Baby Bear begins after you cross the bridge over San Pablo Creek; it’s short and steep with grades of 9-11% up to the traffic signal on San Pablo Dam Rd.

Continue south on Camino Pablo into Orinda for some climbs on El Toyonal, Loma Vista and Alta Vista. El Toyonal winds through the residential neighborhoods of Orinda under a canopy of trees. The gradient ranges from 10-12% with not much relief in between. The short section up Alta Vista is not open to traffic so you can enjoy the quiet road leading up to Lomas Cantadas.

The climb up El Toyonal and Loma Vista to Alta Vista is 1.5 miles with starting gradients of 6-7% with pitches of 9-10%. Once you pass the Orinda Pool sign, the gradient ranges increases to 10-13%. There is a section where the road does level out a bit at 4% but then the climbing continues again with grades of 10-14%! The neighborhood is well shaded with minimal traffic.

The turn onto Alta Vista is a slight detour through a very beautiful small canyon with no through traffic. It doesn’t even matter how long or short this climb is because it’s so gorgeous back there! It is steep with gradient ranges of 10-14%; it eases up as you reach the intersection with Lomas Cantadas.

The half mile plus climb up Lomas Cantadas from Alta Vista is very steep with gradient ranges of 13-17% up to the Grizzly Peak Stables. The road levels out as you continue along the ridgeline towards Grizzly Peak Blvd. Take a moment to admire the gorgeous views around Siesta Valley and the Lafayette Reservoir.

Descend Grizzly Peak Blvd to the Fish Ranch/Claremont intersection and continue up Grizzly Peak for the short climb up to the ridge.

Grizzly Peak Blvd continues up along the ridge with gorgeous views of the Bay Area and the scenic hills surrounding Sibley Park.

The rolling terrain along Skyline Blvd takes you through the Oakland neighborhoods out to the Chabot Science Center and Robert’s Park. Descend Skyline Blvd to the traffic light at Joaquin Miller Rd and hang a left to continue on Skyline.

The descent on Redwood Rd heading east to Pinehurst Rd is a fun 2.5 smooth miles through the towering redwoods with minimal traffic and great sight lines. This is one of my favorite downhills-no braking is required!

The climb up south Pinehurst Rd to Pinehurst Gate is 1.3 miles with an average grade of 4.7% and one steep pitch of 8-9% as you near the top. The descent on Pinehurst down to Canyon Rd is on a narrow twisty two lane road with many blind turns-proceed with caution!

Turn right on Canyon Rd into the town of Moraga; the road name changes to Moraga Rd as you head towards St Mary’s Rd.

Continue north on St Mary’s Rd; the rolling terrain goes along the east edge of Lafayette to Moraga Rd and Mt Diablo Blvd.

Climb Oak Hill Rd and turn left on Deer Hill Rd; roll pass 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 1.8 miles to the stop sign at Upper Happy Valley Rd.

Happy Valley Rd continues to climb for another mile up to the summit near Orinda View Rd with gradient ranges of 9-11%!

The twisty bumpy descent on Happy Valley Rd leads out to Bear Creek Rd.

Bear Creek Rd heading north begins on fairly flat terrain towards Bear Creek Staging Area and a bit beyond.

The road kicks up for the series of small climbs and descents over the backside of Mama Bear along Briones Hills; it’s 1.4 miles with gradient ranges of 5-9% to the summit.

Mama Bear descends Lawson Hill through a horse ranching community and the Gan Shalom Cemetery to Alhambra Valley Rd.

Head east on Alhambra Valley Rd for the gentle climb up along the vineyard to the olive grove and animal farm. The road continues through the valley and ranch lands around JBL Ranch to the base of the Pig Farm Hill.

The climb up west Pig Farm Hill begins at the gate of JBL Ranch; it’s a steep half mile climb with grades of 13-15%!

Alhambra Valley Rd snakes down around the shaded Vaca Canyon to the flats along the lower valley to Alhambra Ave.

Return on Vine Hill Way and take Center and Glacier back to Arnold Dr and Fig Tree Ln.

Get your climbing legs ready-this urban hilly route hits some of the classic East Bay Hills! You’ll enjoy the ridge top vistas of the SF/Bay Area along Grizzly Peak and Skyline Blvd!

Garmin Stats:
62.3 Miles with 6119′ of elevation gain
Max elevation: 1625′
Max grade: 17%
Terrain: Extremely hilly with steep climbs

Weather: Sunny and warm with clear blue skies. Temps ranged from the mid 50’s to the high 70’s with SW winds.

View the interactive RGPS route map & profile


Follow this route for today’s ride:

One Comment

  1. Nancy, now it’s in your own writing! I knew you don’t brake going down Redwood Rd! You really fly down that road! Just like going down the backside of Morgan Territory Road into Livermore!

    Jim, I love the reward of a descent after a climb! Nancy


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