July 14, 2015 11:39 pm

Fresno is thought of as being really flat and it is. Most of the good riding areas surrounding Fresno are not. The majority of flat roadways are not ideal for bike riding due to traffic or poor road conditions. If you bicycle in Fresno, inevitably you will end up in the rolling hills that surround it or even higher up in the mountains where the temperatures are a little more bearable during the Summer months. Below are listed a few of my favorites with accompanying videos, mostly of descents since they are a little more entertaining to watch.

Pine Flat Lake Loop

This is a fairly popular ride in Fresno in spite of several cattle guards that need to be crossed. There is a fair amount of climb, traffic is usually not bad, and there’s a nice view of Pine Flat Lake. When circling clockwise over the route, the ride ends with a long descent on Trimmer Springs Road.

Kaiser Pass

Kaiser Pass is well-known scenic ride that is really only appropriate for the most experienced riders. The “peak” is at about 9000 feet and kaiser road climb alone gains 2000 feet. Some riders start much lower, working their way up to this climb. While this is perceived as the apex of the Climb to Kaiser annual ride, it not nearly the end of the ride. The descent is not the rest break you would expect it to be as can been seen in the above video. The video was recorded during the spring when there was still quite a bit of snow on the sides of the road.

Big Creek – Railroad Grade

The “Railroad Grade” is an alternate route to the town of Big Creek. It is at least 15 miles of climbing dirt road. Train tracks once ran along the railroad grade, leading to the power station in Big Creek. Especially during the warmer months, this is not a two water bottle ride. You’ll want to take a CamelBak or other hydration pack, preferably one that holds a lot of water. There’s nowhere to stop for water along this route until you get to Big Creek.

Million Dollar Mile

This ride is a not very well know “secret” route to Big Creek. There’s some bike lifting to get on the route, but that’s all I’m saying. To the left, a sheer drop extends quite a long way down. Towards the middle of the ride there is a waterfall that sometimes flows so strong, it’s impossible to safely cross the bridge in front of it. Half the rides I have done on this road have been out-and-back because of this. Better safe than sorry.


The Powerhouse Loop has multiple long and difficult climbs. It is equally popular clockwise as counter-clockwise. The descent going clockwise (as seen in the videos) is bumpier than the descents going counter clockwise, however easily manageable by an experienced rider.

The Powerhouse descent has been part of many organized rides in the Fresno area, including The Bass Lake Double Century, a 300K brevet, and the Fresno Cycling Clubs 50th anniversary ride.

Reddinger Lake

Should the Powerhouse Loop not prove to be an exhausting enough challenge, there’s the “Reddinger” option. This route has extremely rough roads. Seriously, it’s worse than going up the railroad grade, even though it’s paved, or at least was once considered paved. This can add quite a bit more climb to the Powerhouse Loop and there are no water stop along the way. Yet another ride you will seriously want to consider a CamelBak.

Courtright Lake

This ride includes some beautiful lakeside views. There are some steeper climbs, but it’s well worth the effort. On one occasion we were chased and then passed by a horse on the initial climb out from Courtright Lake. See the above video for undeniable proof that both my stoker and I together do not put out “one horsepower” while climbing a steep hill.

Grizzly Road

This route is part of the Grizzly Century, however, every time I have done it going clockwise while the century travels in the opposite direction. The reason for this is that without support, the one good rest stop ends up so close to the end of the ride when going counter-clockwise that it’s not even worth stopping. The first major climb going clockwise puts “The Jones Store” about halfway through the ride time-wise. They make a great hamburger there. One thing riders need to be careful about on this route if going clockwise is that some of the descents have nasty potholes that are unfortunately located in areas with patches of shade that resemble a pothole a little too much. This is a descent that requires extra caution.

Parkfield Descent

This descent is located just outside Coalinga. I had the opportunity to ride this on the last day of a 5 day tour to the coast.  After a 5 mile dirt road climb, we were treated to a long winding descent with one of the most beautiful views I have seen on a bike ride. If doing this ride, you’ll want to make a stop off in the town of Parkfield if you’ve never been there. It’s quite the interesting place to visit. ?

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This post was written by Tom

1 Comment

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