EPIC ROUTES

New year, new routes! In 2022, the Bay Area Epic moves a bit north into the lower Peninsula. Every route gets more gravel, more elevation, and more epic-ness!

All our routes climb through the Santa Cruz Mountains and wind along the Bay Area Ridge Trail for 15 miles before crossing Skyline towards Montebello Open Space and topping out on Black Mountain. The Ridge Trail offers beautiful singletrack with glimpses of the Pacific Ocean, and will present a few technical challenges - but nothing that can't be tackled on a gravel bike. Don't plan on making it through this part of the route on 2 water bottles - make a note of the water stops just off route or wear a hydration pack.

What kind of bike should you ride? Gravel with fast rolling tires, wide 650b's, or maybe a mountain bike? Well, that's kind of a personal decision... but whatever decision you make know that your bike will be perfect for some sections, and kind of sucky for others. That's half the fun :)

This year's start and end point is chock full of options for coffee, breakfast, and post-ride chow downs & brews! With three different courses to choose from, there's an epic ride here for everyone.

The Grand Epic // 107 miles • 14,443' elevation • 60% gravel

The Grand Epic is the longest course option at touch over 100 miles and almost 14,500' feet of climbing.

Your ride starts with a road spin through Saratoga & Monte Sereno to warm up. About 10 miles in you'll hit your first taste of gravel, but it's short and sweet. Soon you'll find yourself winding through Almaden for a bit more gravel in Santa Teresa and Calero Parks. After riding through the historic town of New Almaden, top off on water and begin the first gravel climb into Almaden Quicksilver County Park and take a selfie in front of San Cristobal Tunnel. Cross Hicks road and you enter Sierra Azul Open Space beginning the gravel grind up Woods Trail, gaining 1500' more feet to the top of Kennedy Trail.

Grab a selfie at the top, point the bike downhill, and you'll lose almost 2000' of elevation before you hit Kennedy Road. Be careful on the descent because this trail popular with bikers and hikers and will be busy on a weekend.

From here you drop down into downtown Los Gatos. This is your last opportunity for a caffeine pit stop, and it's back onto the gravel at St. Joseph's Hill Open Space Preserve. Enjoy the beautiful road spin around Lexington Reservoir and begin the climb up Black Road. After climbing 1200' on pavement you'll hit John Nicholas Trail (you'll know you're close when you start to see a lot of cars parked along the road). From here you'll be back on the dirt for quite a while as you climb up to skyline. Keep your head up as you climb John Nicholas -- this is another popular trail and you'll probably encounter mountain bikes coming downhill.

Once you reach the peak you'll follow the Bay Area Ridge Trail for the next 15 miles. When you find yourself running low on water, there are a couple spots along the way where you can refill (see the course notes for more info). After you cross Skyline, you'll grab another selfie at Turtle Rock. On clear days, you'll be able to catch glimpses of the Pacific Ocean from here.

Eventually you'll hit Page Mill, cross into Montebello Open Space, and climb Bella Vista Trail to the peak of Black Mountain. This is a gorgeous and rugged spot with panoramic views of the Bay Area.

It's mostly downhill from here! Grab your selfie and head back down and pick up Canyon Trail which is a beautiful shaded fire road that turns into singletrack and eventually drops you out on Stevens Canyon Road for a nice long paved decent. At the corner of Stevens Canyon and Pierce Road & Mt Eden there will be bathrooms and water.

From here you'll ride around Stevens Creek Reservoir and begin your last gravel climb up to Fremont Older Open Space Preserve. There's more water available at the ranger station before you start your climb. This climb only gains about 600', but it's probably going to feel like the longest. Enjoy the smooth singletrack in Fremont Older and then it's a short road spin back to the car and your well deserved cold one. (Don't forget your last selfie!)

This ride will challenge your legs and your resolve, but you'll be rewarded with some of the best gravel riding the Bay Area has to offer.

Course Notes

This course starts at the El Paseo de Saratoga shopping complex (near REI). This is a long route, plan accordingly and bring plenty of food -- once you get out of downtown Los Gatos (after Kennedy) there aren't any food stops until the end of the ride. While you can't park here overnight, consider starting this ride in the dark (or very early) if you think you might need more than 12 hours to complete it. The Peets Coffee here opens at 6am.

If you're looking for a good estimate for how long this ride will take you, check out the Better Moving Times Chrome plugin for Strava.

This route has 2 KOM Segments:

  1. Woods uphill: Barlow to Kennedy - 3.52 miles, average grade 5.6%, elevation gain 1,222'

  2. Black + JNT - 8.05 miles, average grade 5.3%, elevation gain 2,234'

Water locations*:

  • San Vincente Parking Lot (mile 20.4)

  • Quicksilver Parking Lot (mile 22.8)

  • Los Gatos Creek Trail entrance (just off route near mile 48.6)

  • Castle Rock Campground (quick detour onto Skyline around around mile 68.5)

  • Calfire Station (quick detour onto Skyline around mile 72.2)

  • David C Daniels Nature Center (off route just before Page Mill around mile 80.6)

  • Stevens Canyon Campground (mile 93.7)

  • Ranger Station (mile 96.4)

Selfie locations (6)*:

  1. Start of the ride (mile 0)

  2. San Cristobal Tunnel (mile 31)

  3. Viewpoint at the top of Kennedy Trail (mile 41.4)

  4. Turtle Rock (mile 73.7)

  5. Top of Black Mountain (mile 85.1)

  6. End of the ride (mile 107)

* Mileage numbers are approximate.

The Big Epic // 85 miles • 11,117' elevation • 56% gravel

The Big Epic route is pretty similar to the Grand route, except we cut out 20 miles and 3,000' of climbing. You'll spend a little less time in Almaden Quicksilver, but you still get the chance to check out San Cristobal Tunnel and grab a selfie.

This route also cuts out St Joes, dropping you into the gravel portion of the Los Gatos Creek Trail for about 2 miles - this trail is wide, but can be busy on weekends so please be courteous to other trail users. After that we skip the rolling tarmac around Lexington Reservoir, taking a more direct route to Black Road. From here you'll climb John Nicholas Trail and enjoy the singletrack along the Bay Area Ridge Trail.

We also shortcut the loop through Fremont Older and instead take a quick climb up Mt Eden, a nice descent down Pierce, and then a quick spin back to the car and a well deserved brew.

This route has the same KOM segments as the grand route and over 11,000' feet of climbing in just 85 miles. Bring on the Big Epic!

Course Notes

This course starts at the El Paseo de Saratoga shopping complex (near REI). This is a long route, plan accordingly and bring plenty of food -- once you get out of downtown Los Gatos (after Kennedy) there aren't any food stops until the end of the ride. While you can't park here overnight, consider starting this ride in the dark (or very early) if you think you might need more than 12 hours to complete it. The Peets Coffee here opens at 6am.

If you're looking for a good estimate for how long this ride will take you, check out the Better Moving Times Chrome plugin for Strava.

This route has 2 KOM Segments:

  1. Woods uphill: Barlow to Kennedy - 3.52 miles, average grade 5.6%, elevation gain 1,222'

  2. Black + JNT - 8.05 miles, average grade 5.3%, elevation gain 2,234'

Water locations*:

  • Quicksilver Parking Lot (mile 18.2)

  • Los Gatos Creek Trail entrance (mile 38.3)

  • Castle Rock Campground (quick detour onto Skyline around around mile 52.8)

  • Calfire Station (quick detour onto Skyline around mile 56.4)

  • David C Daniels Nature Center (off route just before Page Mill around mile 64.8)

  • Stevens Canyon Campground (mile 77.9)

Selfie locations (6)*:

  1. Start of the ride (mile 0)

  2. San Cristobal Tunnel (mile 20.7)

  3. Viewpoint at the top of Kennedy Trail (mile 31.1)

  4. Turtle Rock (mile 57.9)

  5. Top of Black Mountain (mile 69.4)

  6. End of the ride (mile 84.5)

* Mileage numbers are approximate.

The Mini Epic // 52 miles • 6,987 elevation • 60% gravel

This year, the Mini Epic gets even epic-er with almost 7,000' of climbing!

The Mini skips the Quicksilver & Sierra Azul sections of the longer routes and heads right to St Joes, getting you onto gravel in just about 6 miles.

From here you'll start your climb up Black Road and begin following the Big Epic Route (check out the descriptions above for more details on that route).

There's really nothing mini about the Mini Epic -- it's a lot of elevation in only 52 miles. Come prepared both physically and mentally and enjoy an epic day in the saddle!

Course Notes

This course starts at the El Paseo de Saratoga shopping complex (near REI). This is a long route, plan accordingly and bring plenty of food -- once you get out of downtown Los Gatos (after Kennedy) there aren't any food stops until the end of the ride. While you can't park here overnight, consider starting this ride in the dark (or very early) if you think you might need more than 12 hours to complete it. The Peets Coffee here opens at 6am.

If you're looking for a good estimate for how long this ride will take you, check out the Better Moving Times Chrome plugin for Strava.

This route has 1 KOM Segment:

  1. Black + JNT - 8.05 miles, average grade 5.3%, elevation gain 2,234'

Water & restroom locations*:

  • Los Gatos Creek Trail entrance (just off route near mile 5.9)

  • Castle Rock Campground (quick detour onto Skyline around around mile 20.4)

  • Calfire Station (quick detour onto Skyline around mile 24.1)

  • David C Daniels Nature Center (off route just before Page Mill around mile 32.5)

  • Stevens Canyon Campground (mile 45.7)

Selfie locations (4)*:

  1. Start of the ride (mile 0)

  2. Turtle Rock (mile 25.6)

  3. Top of Black Mountain (mile 37)

  4. End of the ride (mile 52.4)

* Mileage numbers are approximate.