For many of us, climbing on a mountain bike is a necessary evil. We go up, so that we can go back down. Sweat and numb legs are exchanged for jumps, turns, and speed.
For others, it’s their livelihood. A long climb justifies a beer and a towering plate of nachos afterward. Or, long climbs could just be part of a training plan.
For whatever reason, be it an epic descent on the other side, or to get ready for a long-distance XC race, here are ten of the worst mountain bike climbs in the USA based on readily available trail information
These climbs are rated by distance, average grade, maximum grade, ascent to descent ratio, and the altitude.
Burro Pass, Moab, Utah
Most mountain bikers in the U.S. have at least heard of Burro Pass, the starting point of the famed Whole Enchilada. At the highest point, the elevation tops out at 11,132 feet on top of the pass. The trees stop growing, the air is thinner, and it’s doubtful that anyone doesn’t hike a bike up to the top, before throwing a leg over and kicking off the descent.
Most of the climb up is around 10-15%, but it gets above 20% in some sections and is even steeper once the trail goes down. Burro Pass is usually only rideable a handful of months out of the year due to snow, opening around June or July every year. The good thing is that it’s only a little more than a mile from the shuttle drop off to the top of Burro Pass. Unless, of course, someone chooses to ride it sans shuttle, from town.
Mountaintown Creek, North Georgia
Mountaintown Creek in Northern Georgia is one example of ride that probably 75% of the time is spent climbing a gravel road, just to get to the singletrack at the end for a short and sweet descent.
The Mountaintown Creek trail itself is about six miles long with a 1,600 foot descent, but getting there is a different story. Many shuttle up, but if not, then it’s a long climb on mostly gravel road with 3,600 total feet of climbing throughout the ride and grades that top out in the upper teens on the way up.
It’s well worth the grueling climb, though, as noted by Singletracks previously, and since it crosses over the actual Mountaintown Creek about twenty times, it gives mountain bikers a chance to stay cool and wash the sweat off of their faces along the way. This trail is the centerpiece of the annual Singletracks Brutal Loop ride, and there’s a reason it’s called brutal.