What are your best hill climbing rides in the county? I'm stuck in the far northwest flats and would like some suggestions on where to go east or south to find some good climbs. Looking to spruce myself up for the baker DUMB but it's still to cold up there to take a run on that actual hill (and kinda far). I am looking for nice training rides in the 1-2 hour range. The more hills the better. Thanks!
This may not be enough hill for you, but my regular hilly loop goes from my house in Bellingham's Lettered Streets neighborhood up Lincoln past Fred Meyer, continuing past Lake Padden, up the hill to the Galbraith parking area, down to Lake Samish, loop around, then back up with the return a nice long downhill on Old Samish to Chuckanut and back home through Fairhaven. It's about 1300' total gain and 25 or so miles. Lots of folks ride the route.
For a slightly longer loop, continue south from Lake Samish to Alger, then head home via Cain Lake and Lake Whatcom.
Mosquito Lake Road from Hwy 9 at Alger has a good climb (I've only ridden the other direction, coming down).
South Pass Road east from Everson is a nice uphill with some rollers.
In town, you could always do loops on Yew Street Road or Alabama Hill. Barkley Blvd always gets me huffing in low range.
Those should get you started. I don't think any really compare to riding up to Artist Point, but as you say there's still too much snow to be comfortable doing that in April.
Mark has the good long climbs for hte most part. For shorter but steeper rolling hills look to the area north of Mount Baker Highway and west of the Nooksack. Everson Goshen, Noon, Kelly, Smith and Mission rds have a lot of this type. This area does not have the long climbs Mark described, but may be more in your region. Also, I know H street from Blaine to Lynden has some pretty solid climbs.
Of the three in town hills Barkley is nice because it has bike lanes on both sides the whole way. On Yew St. Road they sort of come and go. Both are pretty steep but not terribly long climbs.
There's a nice loop off North Shore Drive around Lake Whatcom that goes out Y road to Mt. Baker Highway and back on Squalicum Lake rd. It's rolling hills mostly but some sections on Y road climb for a while or descend for a while if you ride the other way.
The all around meanest hill I know of is Acadamy Road off North Shore Drive. It's out and back (not a through street) but about a mile and a half of very steep climbing. You could do loops of it and Barkley hill if you really wanted some intense climbing with not much time for recovery...
Mt. Baker DUMB is a century with 10,000 feet of climbing, not sure any of the above are really comparable but they might be a start. For long extended climbs I think you might have to go to the Cascades.
You can also climb Academy, then take a right on the way down to Toad Lake Rd. Then you can ride Toad Lake Rd up until the rd up Squalicum Mt. peels off to the left. That is a more long and gradual ride, nice after Academy, which is definitely brutal!
On the bike lanes note, I think it is unsafe to use the bike lanes on the descent. IMO, they should remove the bike lane going downhill on Barkley. Last year a cyclist was killed when a car pulled out and he did not have time to react. I suggest pulling out into traffic on the way down.
The WWU circuit race is a nice set of climbing. Take north shore drive on north lake whatcom to agate bay (right next to the run down cafe ). Take agate bay up the hills, follow that until it veers left and turns into squlicum lake road, follow that until it intersects Y road take a right. Follow Y road all the way back to the cafe and repeat.
This is where the east county can help out. Jump over to the Reese Hill Rd, South Pass Rd, North Pass Rd area and put together some great loops.
Better yet, grab your mountain bike and head out onto the local logging roads. We did a ride to the top of Sumas Mountain last year and it was brutal. We entered at Hillard Rd and made it up to the peak...thousands of feet of climbing in just a few miles.
You can also connect E. Smith Rd to Rt. 9 going along logging rds with a side route leading to the towers south of Deming.
I live right on the S. Pass rd so email me if you want some help finding local routes
Hey thanks for all the great replies. I was off on a mini road trip, but I hope to put some of these routes to good use in the weeks to come. I've done some hilly circuits on the H st hills, and some in Semiahmoo. But I look forward to working my way further south and east and finding some new and hopefully more painful hills.