Hill Climb – Kitchen Creek Road in Pine Valley, California [4 Reasons Why I Love Kitchen Creek Road]

If you happen to visit San Diego and have the chance to do only one ride, that ride should be the 101 Highway which connects La Jolla to Oceanside to the north. But if you get a chance to do two rides during your visit, then you should consider Kitchen Creek Road in Pine Valley, California.

My buddy Jeff introduced this ride to me a few years back as our riding group was preparing for Breathless Agony in Big Bear. He thought this would be a great place for us to get our climbing miles in. At the time I didn’t truly understand why he was so amped about this ride. After all, it is a good one hour drive eastward away from the coast… But I am so glad that he did because this has since become one of my favorite places to hill climb…

4 Reasons Why I Love Kitchen Creek Road

1. Little to no cars on the road. On any given weekend you can come ride here and encounter virtually no cars on this road. This is due to the fact that this stretch of road which is roughly 4 miles ends at a non-county maintained road which is gated off from motor vehicles. Consequently, it feels like this road was built cyclers.

2. Great views and changing landscapes. There is so much to see here as you ride along the road and up the trail (that is closed to motor traffic). The greenery around you changes from low-lying desert-like landscape to views of leafy green and yellow valleys and eventually to confiners lining the road. In the winter time, it’s not uncommon to see snow once you reach elevation and pop out on the Sunrise Highway at the top of Mount Laguna.

3. Get your climbing miles in… at elevation. Oh yeah, and you climb over 3000 feet within in a span of 15 miles or so. In the non-summer months, it tends to get cooler as you elevate which is also another nice bonus. If you haven’t climbed at altitude recently, get ready for a gut check breathing wise – literally.

4. Descending from the top of Mount Laguna is rush. What goes up must come down. Rutted conditions at the top from the heavy rain and snow earlier in the year aside, the ride down the mountain back down to Major’s Diner in Pine Valley is a total rush. Motorists on the Sunrise Highway seem relatively cordial and the shoulder space is sufficient. Keep an eye out for cattle rails and also a stretch of cars parked along the road side half way down at the Noble Canyon trail head. (Noble Canyon is a well-known mountain biking area on the way up to Mount Laguna).

Pictures of Kitchen Creek Road

Pictures of the Climb Up Mount Laguna

Strava Route Map (Reverse Order – Descent First, Climb Second)

Where to Park

Behind Major’s Diner in the Post Office Parking Lot:

28870 Old Hwy 80, Pine Valley, CA 91962

(619) 473-9969


Still Need More Motivation to Get Out and Climb? Get Your Cycling Motivation Video.

Subscribe to the blog for access to a cycling motivation video featuring this amazing hill climb (it’s free!):

Sign me up!


%d bloggers like this: