Palo Cristi

Palo Cristi

Palo Cristi Histogram

Palo Cristi climb, starting from Stanford Dr & Palo Cristi, in Paradise Valley area.

This short but steep climb is in the Paradise Valley area on the south side of the Phoenix Mountain Preserve near Piestewa Peak, and follows Palo Cristi Rd (south of Lincoln Dr), which turns into 36th St (north of Lincoln Dr.) One could argue the climb proper starts at Lincoln Dr, but I’ve shown it above starting at Stanford Dr & Palo Cristi Rd, as that’s how most cyclists would access this climb. (Few riders I know ride Lincoln Dr unless early in the morning on the weekends.)

This first mile of this climb, heading north of Stanford Dr starts out gradual, and ramps up to 4-6% near the intersection with Lincoln Dr. After waiting at the traffic signal and crossing Lincoln Dr, the climbing begins in earnest. You’ll soon be encountering 8% grades for about 1/4 mile, and then the pitch ramps up to 12% grades, maxing out at 19% about a 1/4 mile from the top, where the grade then eases back to 10-12%. The climb ends as you come to the gates of a private driveway to one of the few homes in the mountain preserve. Off to your left is Piestewa Peak, and the dead-end you’ve reached serves as a trailhead of sorts to the trails of the mountain preserve, (I can’t remember, but I don’t think you can park your car here.) If you were riding your mountain bike, you could use this climb as an access to the park trails.

Palo Cristi is a tough little climb. It’s not the steepest or longest climb in the valley, but it always kicks my butt. You better have good brakes when zooming down the descent, as those initial 12-19% grades will have you doing down in a hurry.

I don’t climb Palo Crisit that often, as it’s not in a convenient location to other climbs in the Paradise Valley/Arcadia area, although it’s not far from them. There is a widely used route by cyclists that goes through the Biltmore and on to 32nd St, north to Stanford (where you can access the Palo Cristi climb) and then east to 44th St and then south to Lafayette where you can access the climbs of Dromedary and Arcadia.


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