San Francisco Bay Area Hills with 20-50% grade

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  • #18764

    Hi All, As a resident of the SF Bay area, I am looking at all the possibilities for doing steep uphill hikes with or without a heavy pack. I was using the following areas/trails/stairs, and I’m interested if people know others!
    1. Mission Peak (~2,200′ elevation gain) – about 12% average grade from Ohlone College, ~14% average grade from Stanford Ave, though the Peak Meadow/Horse Heaven trail has some sections that might be ~25% grade
    2. Mt. Burdell (~1,300′ elevation gain), there is an unofficial trail to the East of the Quarry trail that is about 35% grade for ~500′, but overall it’s probably ~ 12% grade
    3. Black Mountain in Rancho San Antonio Open Space Preserve (~2,400′ elevation gain), have not measured the grade though.
    4. Lyon St stairs (~160′ per lap).


  • Participant
    NandaDevi on #18765

    One more to add:

    Marin Avenue in Berkeley, with about 16.5% grade for about 650′.

    todd.struble on #18856

    I was visiting family in Santa Clara recently and scoured the area for places as well. Black Mountain was the greatest elevation gain that I found but had some lower grade sections. Training Peaks says the grade from the bottom to the top is 9%. There’s a flat section in there though so most of the trail is 10% grade.

    For those in the South Bay, the Kennedy Road trail into the Sierra Azul Preserve in Los Gatos had the best access to elevation/grade ratio for me. I hiked repeats on the steepest section of the trail that I could find, which Training Peaks says was 800 ft in 1.3 miles at a grade of 11.6%. (I also got to see some snow the closest to my childhood home I’d ever seen! Saw snow down to I think around 1500′)

    mtrpn on #19029

    North Peak Direct. Almost 3000′ gain in 2.5 miles can be found on the east side of Mount Diablo. On Morgan Territory Road, one quarter mile from its intersection with Marsh Creek Road is a small pullout with an official gap in the fence. This pullout is on the right just past a mine’s tailing pond. Once through the fence, you may have a seasonal stream to cross, but on other the side you can see a utility road heading up, serving the two powerpoles a third of the way up North Peak. Follow the road to the second powerpole where a post marks a singletrack that goes mostly straight up to the summit of North Peak. This trail appears on some hiking maps but not on the official Mount Diablo State Park map.

    NandaDevi on #19082

    Yes, Todd – I hiked up Black mountain with a pack once and it did not feel steep enough.

    NandaDevi on #19083

    That’s cool, mtrpn! I’ve got to try this one. Thanks!

    Colin Simon on #19097

    Black Mountain, but from the lesser-known and much nicer Rhus Ridge trailhead. Skips most of the flat bits:

    matt.n.wells on #19203

    Hood Mountain in Sonoma County is about 3k feet gain. Also some pretty steep trails up Tam from the northside of Mill Valley… and the Dipsea Stairs is a classic in Mill Valley!

    nolefp on #38236

    San Bruno from the south side has really direct ‘1000 gain, super steep.

    Chaparral peak also About ‘1000 in Berkeley.

    Alta trail or something like that over on Mount Montara is wildly steep and likely 1800’

    viyat on #52395

    I have done Mission Peak/Monument Peak with a pack and it has a good grade to it. I am also going to try doing the North Peak loop to get good vert:distance in.

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