The Scottsdale Mountain climb, shown as clockwise loop starting at 124th St and Via Linda in northeast Scottsdale. Approximately 675 feet of climbing for the 6.4 mile loop if you do all the hills.
This mountain is a favorite climbing destination for many groups, especially on Saturdays. It’s located in northeast Scottsdale, just over the ridge from Fountain Hills, and north of Shea Blvd, near the Mayo Clinic off 136th St.
The climb up 136th St is the most common climbing direction. The 3-4% grades kick to 5-6% once you pass through gates about 1/2 mile up. (If the gates aren’t open, you can take the sidewalk to the left.) Say “hi” to the guard as you pass through. These streets are private, but so far, the neighborhood allows cyclists up. We’d like to keep it that way, so be polite and try to stay quiet and in single file. Do not loiter up top on the cul-de-sacs.
Once you pass the intersection with Larkspur Rd, 136th St kicks to a healthy 8% grade, and stays in the 8-12% range till you reach the corner of 136th St and Sweetwater. After swinging right, the main route takes an immediate left, up to a cul-de-sac on 136th Pl, with grades in the 12-15% range.
136th St past Larkspur. This is the meat of the climb, an 8-12% love affair of suffering.
View from the cul-de-sac on 136th Pl, looking down southeast. That’s Mesa way off in the distance.
Starting down the hill from the cul-de-sac. This curve is 12-15% at its steepest.
The cul-de-sac at the end of 136th St (it’s actually 136th Pl at this point) is the de facto top of the climb, though the very top can be seen on another road to the east. If you are feeling your oats – and if the gate you’ll soon encounter happens to be open, an option on the way back down is to turn left instead of right onto Sweetwater, over to 137th St and then north through the gate. The road ends in a cul-de-sac, with the grade kicking to 16% along the way. It’s here you may be wishing the gate hadn’t been open!
The gate on 137th St, to the very top of the route. I’ve rarely seen this gate open. Be prepared for 16% grades. My personal preference is to leave this street alone, so as not to over-extend our welcome in this neighborhood. The day I took this photo, I was feeling weak and slow, and had no … er … inclination to do this incline.
Once you’ve had enough climbing, you can go west on Sweetwater and back down 136th St. Halfway down, most cyclists turn right onto Larkspur, which by the way makes a convenient shortcut on the way up if you don’t want to do the full climb.
Looking south on 136th St, just before the turn onto Larkspur. The grade here is 7-8%.The brown, open area in the distance is the Salt River Indian Reservation, with Phoenix/Tempe off in the distance.
There’s another climb you can do instead of or in addition to 136th/137th, just off Larkspur onto 135th St. My friends from the Los Freeloaders club call this “Bryan’s Bonus Hill” as I’m always egging them on for more climbing – as if the main climb isn’t enough. This bonus hill is a great place to practice a climbing sprint out of the saddle, the whole way.
The beginning of Bryan’s Bonus Hill, as the Los Freeloaders call it, on 135th St north of Larkspur. A short, steep little climb to further abuse those legs. A good place to practice standing out of the saddle the whole way up.
Larkspur has a fun downhill heading west. There are speed bumps, (136th St has them too), but those bumps were flattened a while back, making it a lot easier on bikes. (I doubt highly that’s why they were changed). You’ll come to gates just before 128th St. You can pass through a pedestrian gate on the left, or if you are lucky and skilled enough, you can cause the main gates to open by artfully positioning your bike on just the right spot on the embedded sensors.
Fast and fun downhill on Larkspur Rd. Looking west. Scottsdale cycling at its finest.
Warning: Please don’t get carried away bombing down Larkspur. I once saw a few rude cyclists passing others on the downhill – in the oncoming lane, almost hitting residents out walking their dog. That is NOT the way to garner goodwill from the residents. It IS a great way to get us banned from these private streets.
The junction of 128th St and Larkspur serves as a good regroup spot, and then you have a nice downhill back to Via Linda.
Looking south from 128th St and Larkspur, a popular regroup spot.
With the top of Hidden Hills being temporarily closed, Scottsdale Mountain has become the climb of choice in this neck of the woods.
Update, Nov, 2013.
Scottsdale Mountain is now closed to cyclists. It seems an accident involving a cyclist here a few months ago prompted the closing. I guess the neighborhood association didn’t want the liability. I can’t blame them, I guess, but it’s sad to see this venue off limits now. The general trend in this area is for less and less access to cyclists. The Thursday morning TriScottsdale ride has had to alter their training routes in this area because of this. We now just do as many of the hills as we can, and do more of the shorter climbs than we used to.
In theory, the Hidden Hills climb, a sister climb to Scottsdale Mountain, will eventually reopen to cyclists, as there is a public right-of-way up its slopes. For now, though, it too remains off-limits, and there is no indication when (if ever) we’ll be allowed back up there.