User Rating:  / 0

Highway 9 Road Ride

Park: Highway 9 Road Ride
Date: Multiple
Distance: 38.16 miles
Ride Time: 2:49
Total Ascent: 4,260 feet
Overall Rating: 6
Highway 9 Route Highway 9 Elevation Profile


Highway 9 is one of the more popular road climbs in the area starting in downtown Saratoga and heading up to the junction with Highway 35 (Skyline). As can be seen in the elevation profile, it is a long steady climb to the top. The road heads through redwood and oak forests and is shaded almost the entire length. Be aware that this highway is also a main thoroughfare for mountain residents, motorcycle racers rushing to get to the top, tourists heading to Big Basin and others. The shoulders are generally good but there are sections near Saratoga that are quite narrow and against a hillside that can make things a little tricky. Fortunately, most drivers are used to bike riders on this road.

There are basically 3 ways to access Highway 9:

  1. Start in downtown Saratoga and head up. Saratoga has good access from the south through Los Gatos (Highway 9), from Cupertino and beyond  (De Anza) and from San Jose and Campbell (Saratoga Ave.).
  2. Climb up Pierce Road, go past the Mountain Winery and then take a short downhill to Highway 9.
  3. Ride up Stevens Canyon Road to Redwood Gulch which is the only intersection and only stop sign on Stevens Canyon Road. Redwood Gulch is one of the steeper roads in the area and is a good place to test your hill climbing mettle. The top of Redwood Gulch is at Highway 9 and is the psychological middle of the Highway 9 climb.

At the top of the climb there is a CalTrans parking lot on the left which is a good spot to take a break. You can start a mountain bike ride here on Saratoga Gap, continue over the hill to Santa Cruz or Big Basin, or ride along Highway 35. Be aware that there is quite a bit of high speed traffic on Highway 35 going north, especially fast motorcycles, so keep your wits about you. There is usually a hotdog vendor at the parking lot on summer afternoons.

As an alternative, you can head south on Highway 35. This has much less traffic than going north. It starts with some more climbing (nothing too steep) before it crests near Castle Rock State Park and starts heading down. There are a variety of ways down: Black Road, Bear Creek Road, or Summit Road to Old Santa Cruz Highway. Old Santa Cruz Highway is a very nice downhill ride through the redwoods. There are also routes heading toward the coast that can be explored. Extending the Summit Road path can also take you to Soquel Demo Forest, but you might not want to take a road bike on the trails there!

The speed on the ride down Highway 9 is limited by your skill and your bike. It is quite easy to get going very fast and hit the speed limits or even faster. Be sure to wear glasses as there will be a lot of wind in your face which can cause tearing. There are several coffee shops or ice cream type places in Saratoga that can be a good place to stop after the ride.


joomla template 1.6
template joomla