Background photo - U.S. #5 Pikes Peak CO.

Start  (click and drag map; double click to move forward)

                     Cycling and Climbing the Sierras                                                     Horseshoe Meadows Road                               Owens Valley, CA

 Note:  Click on “View full route" (top left) which opens the Horseshoe Meadows RoadRideWithGPS page.  Hover over the distance line at the spot you would like to begin a sub-  segment for this climb.  Click your mouse on the start point and drag the vertical graphing line the distance you wish to obtain sub-detail from, then release the  mouse at the end point.  This will give you the following sub-detail for the selected segment in the “Metrics” window top right of the page:  (a) distance, (b) elevation  gained and lost, (c) max grade, (d) average grade (e) that segment's climb category – e.g. Cat 1, HC, etc., and (f) FIETS score for the segment.


Hover cursor over segment slices, below, for exact  grade of a particular segment. Map route (bottom) colors correlate with elevation legend colors.

Statistics and Details

  • Distance:                              19.2 miles

  • Beginning elevation:         3,820'

  • Ending elevation:                10,052' 

  • Elevation gained:                   6,490'

  • Average Grade:                    6.5%

  • Fiets Index:                           13.74%

  • Location:  Climb begins just south of Lone Pine, CA on Lupine Road at 36.54224, -118.05151 latitude/longitude, 233 miles from LAX and 443 miles from San Francisco International Airport.

Ride Description  

Horseshoe Meadows Road is rated as the second most difficult climb in California and #7 in the United States with a Fiets Index score of 14.5. Located in the the heart of the Owens Valley which at 4,500' and surrounded by 14,000' peaks makes it one of the deepest valleys in the U.S. The Owens Valley is a mecca for road bike climbing and we believe boasts the greatest concentration of Top 100 U.S. and Top 75 California Climbs than any other area in the country. Owens Valley is a graben (downdropped block of land between 2 vertical faults) which creates the unparalleled extended steep grades along its eastern border with the Sierra Nevada Mountains.

​ This ride does not have the grade its #6 neighbor does (Onion Valley Road ) 21 miles north (8.2% average grade vs 6.5%), but it is 4 1/2 miles longer with 800' higher elevation and 1,200' more climbing.  There are no provisions along this route and the temperatures during the summer will often exceed 100 degrees for the first half of the climb (see weather map, below).   One of the most unique features of this ride are the massive switchbacks which are easily observable from Highway 395 4 miles to the east.  The first switchback begins at mile 8.5, is 1.7 miles, gains 651' with a 7.1% average grade (switchback #2 1.2m / 467' / 8.3%.)

​Roadway Surface and Traffic:  The roadway surface in July, 2014 was poor (video of roadway) and descending should be done with caution.  Traffic has been very light the 4 times we have made this climb between 2011 and 2014.