EB Hills: Pig Farm-Bears-El Toyonal-Loma Vista-Alta Vista-Lomas Cantadas-Pumphouse

Saturday, September 16, 2017

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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 north on Grizzly Peak Blvd to Golf Course and drop down through Tilden Park to Wildcat Canyon and Inspiration Point. Climb Pumphouse Grade and 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 of 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.

Enjoy the views of Briones Reservoir!

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 to El Toyonal.

El Toyonal winds through the residential neighborhoods of Orinda under a canopy of trees with gradient ranges of 6-8%.

At the next Y junction, go left onto Loma Vista. The road continues uphill with increased grades of 11-14%. 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% before coming to a short steep wall with a 22% incline!

Loma Vista reconnects onto El Toyonal-go straight. The climbing continues with gradient ranges of13-17% with not much relief in between.

At the next road split, go left onto Alta Vista, it’s a wonderful 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%; the road levels out 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 14-17% up to the Grizzly Peak Stables.

The road eases down to 9-11% grades as you continue along the ridgeline towards Grizzly Peak Blvd.

A quick stop at Tilden Park Steam Trains.

Head west on Grizzly Peak Blvd, the road rolls along Frowning Ridge followed by a twisty descent along the south edge of Tilden to Golf Course Dr.

Golf Course drops down northward along the west edge of the park to Shasta Rd and Wildcat Canyon Rd.

Head north along Wildcat Canyon Rd to Inspiration Point followed by a scenic winding descent to Bear Creek Rd.

Continue straight onto Bear Creek Rd, it drops down on Baby Bear to the bridge crossing over San Pablo Creek. The climb on the backside of Papa Bear aka “Pumphouse Grade” begins near Bear Creek Trail; it’s 0.7 miles with 7-9% grades up to the Briones Overlook Staging Area.

The road continues to wind up around the Black Hills with gradient ranges of 6-8% and views of Briones Reservoir. Bear Creek Rd drops down towards Happy Valley Rd at Briones Valley. Bear Creek Rd continues 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.

Head east on Alhambra Ave and Vine Hill Way to Morello Ave for the return to Holiday Highlands Park.

Get your climbing legs ready-this urban hilly route hits some of the classic and more challenging roads around the East Bay Hills!

Garmin Stats:
46 Miles with 5085′ of elevation gain
Max Elevation: 1541′
Max grade: 22%
Terrain: Extremely hilly with steep climbs

Weather: Sunny & warm with some afternoon clouds. Temps ranging from the mid 60’s to the mid 80’s with NW > SW winds.

View the interactive RGPS route map & profile

Follow this route for today’s ride:



  1. Nancy, What a route! Too hard without some walking (14 to 22 percent grades!) for me. I’m surprised only 1500+ feet of total gain. Thanks for posting. A future challenge ride.


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