Mt. Hamilton Bike Ride


Monta Vista Velo does a ride to the Lick Observatory usually twice a year. The club has started the ride in Milpitas, from Berryessa Road, or rides across San Jose from Los Altos. We usually ride through Alum Rock Park via Penetencia Creek Road, and sometimes take Crothers or Miguelita to start the climb.

The climb to Mt. Hamilton is in three stages, with slight downhills between each section. The gradients are mild by Bay Area standards, and consistent, at 5 or 6% for the first section, 5% for the second section, and 6% for the third section. The gradient is never more then 7%.

Download the Mt. Hamilton Google Earth route, or view altitude plots from the MVV 2005-06-11 ride.

Distance/Ascent from Los Altos: 120km / 1900m

Distance from Milpitas: 100km

Distance/Ascent from base: 59.6km / 1126m up and 140m down

Route Description (from Berryessa Road):

  • See map of route
  • Start from Community Center parking lot on Berryessa Road (nearest intersection is Adams Drive)
  • Flanders Drive, Piedmont Road, Penitencia Creek Road
  • Route B:
    • Toyon, McKee, Alum Rock to base of Mt. Hamilton.
  • Route A:
    • Continue up Penitencia to Alum Rock Falls Road and bigger hill through park, quick regroup at gate exiting park, then down Alum Rock Road to base of Mt. Hamilton Road.
  • Route A & B:
    • Mt. Hamilton Road, right at summit to get to the main observatory.
    • Regroup at Lick Observatory.
    • Return via same route, except smaller hill thru Alum Rock Park

Route Description (from Los Altos):

  • Start in Los Altos at Foothill Expressway and Miramonte Avenue (Bicycle Outfitter) [map]
  • South on Fremont Avenue
  • North on Mary Avenue
  • East on Central Expressway
  • Left on Montague Expressway
  • Right on Trade Zone Boulevard, turning into Cropley Avenue
  • Right on Piedmont Road
  • Left on Penetencia Creek Road
  • Though Alum Rock Park, right at closed gate on Alum Rock Ave., or past this gate further up the valley and turn right on a 2nd close road
  • Left on Miguelita Road
  • Left on Mt. Hamilton Road
  • Right at summit to get to the main observatory
  • Return via same route


  • Lick Observatory Weather and Web Cam
  • Water, toilets and $1 soda machine at the top.
    • Bring four quarters for the soda machine. The machine takes $1 bills, but the bills do not always work
  • Distance from the base to the Lick Observatory (1250m) is 29.8km with 1126m of climbing.
  • Climb is in three sections:
    • First Climb, (9.55km, 439m, 4.6%)
    • Second Climb, (5.15km, 226m, 4.39%)
    • Third Climb, (10.45km, 609m, 5.83%)
  • Descent has two climbs totaling 140m of climbing

View from Lick Observatory, back down the road

Other Information: