Top 10 Climbs on the Palos Verdes Peninsula

The South Bay used to produce lots of riders who could absolutely smoke it on the uphills. This was due in part to the excellent climbing available on the Palos Verdes Peninsula, but also because it used to be affordable for young people to live here. Now, not at all, and while there are a handful of good climbers who both ride PV and live here, for the most part they live elsewhere. However, LA riders who want hard, hilly riding in a gorgeous setting still come here. Below is my ranking of the ten best climbs. Route descriptions are referenced according to Strava.

1. Forrestal-Ganado-Domes: 3.4 miles, average grade 6.3%. The toughest climb on the peninsula. It begins on Forrestal when you turn off of PV Drive South, connects with Ganado, then takes Crest all the way to the radar domes. If you do “Segment Search” in Strava for “The Big One, Rancho Palos Verdes, CA,” you’ll find it. It’s a solid 20-minute climb. The first part of Forrestal is deceptively steep, and the rest of the climb to Crest is not deceptive at all. It goes up, and up, and up. There is one place where you have to dismount and squeeze through a narrow gate to connect to the rest of the climb. The wall before Ganado is horrific, and Ganado itself is beyond horrific. This is as close to a pro climb as we have in the South Bay. Long, leg breaking, steep, lung busting, relentless, and ridden rarely because it hurts so much.

2. Anchovy-Friendship Park-Domes: 4.0 miles, 7% (est). This would be harder than Forrestal except that after you complete the climb above Friendship Park there is a substantial respite before you hit Crest and climb to the radar domes. Otherwise, it’s an absolute killer. It starts off as an 8.2% wall, climbs for half a mile, then finishes at 11.6% for another five hundred yards before briefly leveling out. You enter the park’s parking lot, pedal to the back, lift your bike over the barricade, and continue up the paved road for another .5 mile, averaging a solid 15% along the steepest part. Then you get another breather from Calle Aventura to PV East until you turn right on Crest and grind the final 1.6 miles at 5.3% to the radar domes.

3. The Switchbacks: The Strava segment is called “RPV Switchbacks.” This is the gold standard climb in the South Bay. 1.9 miles, 5.1%, and a mere 508 feet of climbing, it’s hardly a tough or challenging climb. You can big ring it or spin it…as you wish. However, if you want to crack the top hundred times, get ready to leave something on the road. This is the most popular climb in the South Bay; everyone’s done it, it’s drilled every single week on the Donut Ride, and although there are many harder climbs, there’s none that’s tougher if you’re out hunting a legit Strava KOM. Which I know you’re not. But just in case, Phil Gaimon has it.

4. Calle de Suenos-Crest-Whitley Collins: 3.3 miles, 4.5% (est.) this is a harder, more interesting, and less common route than Hawthorne-Crest, which I’ve left off the list because it’s so ugly, boring, and such a wretched slog compared to Calle de Suenos. Hawthorne is slightly longer and slightly steeper, but this is my list. Sorry. The section on Crest after crossing Hawthorne is not steep but kind of a grind. The kicker is the back side of Whitley-Collins, which rips up at 7.8% and is gnarliest at the end…as it should be.

5. Paseo de la Playa-Via del Monte-Granvira Altamira-Whitley Collins: This is an amalgamation of several climbs, beginning at Paseo de la Playa in Rat Beach, connecting with Palos Verdes Drive Boulevard, doglegging through Malaga Cove to the Strava segment called Via del Monte Full, straight across Hawthorne to Ridgegate, right on Highridge, and then finishing with the front side of Whitley-Collins and its .2 miles at 9.9%. The entire climb is like a billion miles long, has one traffic signal and four hundred stop signs. You’ll have to decide for yourself what to do about them. This is a killer climb to do early in the morning, shortly after or just before the PV cops park their dummy patrol car with the blacked-out windows somewhere on Via del Monte. This climb has everything. Steep sections, 180-degree turn, flat spots, false flats, slight and brief downhill, long grinds…and it finishes with a leg-breaker. As it should.

6. Eastvale-Sunnyridge: This is a little-ridden, extremely noxious climb that will completely crush you. It’s only about a mile long, but averages a solid 9%. The key is to bear right when Eastvale meets Sunnyridge. From there it kicks up and up and up. Take care descending Sunnyridge. It’s a residential street. This is certainly one of the nastiest climbs on the hill, and gets bypassed for that very reason. You pick it up on PV Drive North just past Crenshaw, and of course it ends in a dead-fuggin-end. As it should. This Sunnyridge is the home of the best South Bay climber ever, Stathis the Wily Greek, so some reference it as Stathisridge. If you can’t stomach the dead end, there’s a dirt path behind the little park that drops you off onto Crest. It’s not hard or technical but you can fall off pretty easily if it’s damp or muddy.

7. Crenshaw-Crest-Whitley Collins: In the spirit of miserable, dangerous, grinding, unpleasant rides with nothing to recommend them except length and dreadfulness, I give you Crenshaw. If you begin it at PCH, it’s about 4 miles at 7%. The traffic is dense and fast and dangerous on the lower slope. The traffic is not as dense, but faster after you cross PV Drive North. However, the width of the lane makes it relatively safe. Relatively. After the light at Silver Spur, the road jacks up considerably and really sucks. You get a brief respite on Crest, and then get pounded in the face with a brick when you hit the final .3 miles on Whitley-Collins. This climb is so miserable and awful that you’ll never, ever do it more than once.

8. Reservoir-Homes & Domes: This is the climb up Palos Verdes Drive East to Miraleste, down Miraleste, and up through the neighborhood back to PV Drive East, then up to the radar domes. It’s a terrible climb up from the reservoir due to the traffic, narrow lanes, angry drivers on their way to curse you at church, and bad pavement. The climb is neither challenging nor particularly scenic. The Better Homes Section up Via Colinita is about .7 miles, fairly steep, pretty, but not otherwise notable. So why do this climb? Because it’s a standard.

9. Zumaya-Coronel: This is actually the name of the Strava segment; it’s 2.9 miles at 4.4%. It has a couple of steep sections and only two brief sections where you can catch your breath before it kicks up again. It includes the sweeping uphill grind on Coronel and finishes at a nice little grassy knoll, from where the shots were fired. It’s the finishing climb on the Donut Ride for those who haven’t left everything on the Glass Church sprint and The Rollers.

10. You tell me.

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92 thoughts on “Top 10 Climbs on the Palos Verdes Peninsula”

  1. What about Via La Cuesta? Short, only about 1/3 of a mile long but starts steep and just gets brutal the more you climb.

  2. Hey Wanky, I got a climb for u. Don’t if it qualifies cause it starts in Pedro. Up Capitol into Trudie to Via Colinita right on pvde and then left on Crownview. I don’t know the stats but its pretty tough. Mike G.

    1. Oh, wow. I don’t even know Capitol or Trudie, but anything that ends in Crownview can’t be anything other than nasty. Thanks for the suggestion.

    1. Ken,

      Thanks for the ride with gps segment. I think I’m doing PV tomorrow, I’ll give Browndeer a shot. Went up to Mandeville last week and tried out the “Three Bitches”. They were pretty grueling.

  3. Patrick, never heard of the three bitches in Mandaville, but I assume one of them must be the last street where you can go right just before the end.

    1. Ken,

      Sorry for the late reply. The “Three Bitches” starts at Chalon off Mandeville. You make a left there (right across the street from the fountain”. From there you make a right on Arbutus Dr. and then make a right on Banyan. Those are the “Three Bitches”. Banyan drops you off on Westridge where you can drop back down and pick up Mandeville at the bottom.

      Let me know if you give them a try.

    1. If you don’t want that boring climb up Hawthorne then “motherinlaws” is a good alternative. I guarantee you won’t be bored. Maybe puking, but not bored. Pretty good climb.

  4. crownview is by far the hardest climb ive ever done in PV…. oh and the three bitches in Manderville; you gotta try them!!

  5. I don’t know about you, but when I finished the Clif Climb TT in 2011, the only time I’ve been on the Peninsula, I was about dead by the finish at the Domes. It was the first time I met G$, and even though he’s a world renowned superstar cyclist, he still took the time to tell me I suck and to get off his road (actually he was very friendly and congratulated me on my finish, but don’t tell anyone).

  6. How are you getting onto Calle De Suenos to cross Hawthorne to Crest? I don’t see a connection on my PV map.

  7. Okay, a little blasphemy here. For the ultimate off road climb in RPV try the McCarroll trail in the Three Sisters Preserve – starts at the corner of Tramonto Dr. and PV Drive North. Follow the Tramonto trail across McCarroll Canyon to the Three Sisters trail. The climb starts here. Take a left on McCarroll trail and grind up to Ocean Terrace Drive. It’s only about a mile but expect 30+% sections. It used to be traction-limited much of the year but now it’s used by land conservancy vehicles. For most, just cleaning it will be a rewarding accomplishment.

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  9. Crownview Dr. off of PVDrE. .9 miles of 10%+ ecstasy.
    More civilized, but decent climb, Silver Spur from where it originates at PVDrN up to Hawthorne, has a good segment at 12%

  10. Another take on 2. Anchovy-Friendship Park-Domes
    Instead of Anchovy to the park take Friendship Park Drive from Miraleste. Gets into 10-12% for about 1500ft.

    6100 PVDrW across from the Fire Station: It’s a private roadway. When the gate is open you can do the short jaunt up 15% grade.

    1. Don’t know the Fire Station climb.

      Friendship is a killer if you go through the gate at the park and climb all the way back up to PV Drive.

      1. Actually I should have said Portuguese Bend Rd. to Lower Blackwater Cyn. to Middleridge to Hix Trail and the to Buggy Whip? Bent Springs Trail looks like a bridal trail.

    1. ah…that’s why you hafta circumvent the guard shack(s) since they’re programmed to say “no.” used to live there so i know. middleridge ln to buggy whip (or vice versa) is walkable but not rideable on a road bike. it’s about a 100 yard stretch connecting the two. buggy whip (bottom-north end heading sw is just brutal. via los cumbres, ganado, crownview and silver arrow can all take a back seat and watch.

  11. So we’re talking trails!
    I dunno. If these trails are road-bike-worthy it should work.
    Know where I will be going this weekend.

    1. Hix Trail (on Google Maps) appears to be just a short trail that connects Middleridge to Buggy Whip. I probably won’t make it over there until the beginning of the week. If you make it over there this weekend, report back with your findings.

      1. You can put your cross bike away. There’s a damn guard shack on Portuguese Bend Rd. The two guards weren’t about to let me go on through. Must be why Buggy Whip is so hard, the hard part is getting to it.

  12. Anyone tell me palos verdes east Where marry mount college all way to P V north to get back to redondo beach. How difficult it is ? And what is the average grade ? Thank you

    1. Actually there’s two ways, clockwise and CCW. West from Marymount and follow the various PV Drives back around to Malaga Cove.

      Or East from Marymount, again taking the various PV Drives around to Malaga Cove. This one is little easier, but no the great ocean views.

      I don’t do Strava but Google Maps shows 350 ft vertical gain CW and 515 ft vertical on the CCW. Still think CCW is the easier route.

  13. just did via victoria above pv drive in the lunada bay area. last .25 mile is reminiscent of via los cumbres but the very end of the street is flat and a nice place to take in the hard earned view-or not.

  14. If you’re doing the northbound ascent on Hawthorne from PVDW, take the first Monaco entrance at the light, and continue up along streets that parallel Hawthorne.

    You will be treated to grades that double those on Hawthorne. There are a few places you can bail to Hawthorne, or you can take the side streets all the way to Crest.

  15. Francisco Araujo

    Hi guys,

    I did for 1st time a ride in Palos verdes yesterday afternoon after work. I am looking to ride with more riders in the afternoon aftework. I work in Torrance and live in Costa Mesa. So better to put some ride afterwork to miss the traffic. Do you any teams or meet up group?. Thank you

  16. Anyone have a recommended 2-3 hour ride from Long Beach that would hit some of these climbs? Travelling on business and would like to either do the PVP, or drive up the coast to Santa Monica/Malibu. What would you recommend if I have one morning to ride before getting on a plan and heading back to “no-mountains” Michigan.

  17. Well to ride PV you first have to go to PV. An excellent entry point for a climber from LB would be to take Friendship Park Drive up to Friendship Park. At the top of this warm-up climb you turn right into the first parking lot, go to the end, over the barrier, and take the paved trail up to PV Drive.

    That trail is described in a posting somewhere above, and has a short 20% pitch for further warm-up. From PV Drive you have access to the whole peninsula.

  18. I decided to go up The Big One a couple days ago, only to find a closed gate and a “Private Property. No Trespassing” sign at Vigilance and Oceangrove. Is that normal? I was tempted to pick up my bike and hop over the sign, but chose to head back down and go up PV Dr. East/Crest, as usual, because I was ticketed at one point for a rolling stop on a bike elsewhere on the peninsula…

  19. TheInfiniteRoller

    I wonder about this too, and I always feel a little weird when I enter this area. So it’s OK to walk your bike up on to the sidewalk and continue on up Oceangrove? This is what I always do and no one has ever said anything to me and it’s such a short little section! I try to do this climb once a week. The sign does say, No Skateboards/No Bicycles.

      1. TheInfiniteRoller

        Haha, right! The property owners would probably FLIP OUT if a large group of cyclists came through here but I guess they figure there’s not much they can do if someone is walking their bike on the sidewalk or if someone cuts through walking their dog or something.

    1. I’ve done that a bunch of times, sometimes when a resident was there to witness my crime. They hardly acknowledge my presence, which is real insulting. I’d rather they throw a fit and call the cops.

  20. Slight variation that I tried this morning: Ride #2, then — instead of turning right onto Crest to the domes — continue down PV Drive East, then turn right on to Ganado, and take that to the domes. From the beginning of the climb at the bottom of Anchovy to the top is a bit less than 5 miles, with 1400 feet of elevation gain. Lots of pain, but a couple places to recover along the way.

    (Thanks for this site and list, btw — I moved here a month ago, and it’s been an invaluable and very amusing/readable resource.)

  21. Did first time climbs on Calle de Suenos today and Crownview earlier in the week. Agree that Calle de Suenos is much nicer than Hawthorne EXCEPT for the flight of step google maps had me take to get to it! Is there any easy way to access that other than just to,come down crest from Hawthorne? As for Crownview, that is nuts. The descent back down is crazy.

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