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Nacimiento-Fergusson Road Climb


Catching up on a backlog of fun rides!

This is one of those roads that requires some serious planning to actually get to for most people. Located right near Fort Hunter Liggett and halfway between Cambria and Monterey, this is 300 miles from Long Beach. Even from San Francisco it is almost 200 miles away. If you happen to live in San Luis Obispo (80 miles away) or Monterey (60 miles), you could actually swing this for a day trip. The rest of us? Find an excuse to drive through the area. In my case, the Woodside Century in northern California served as that excuse. On a side note, I would highly recommend that century – beautiful, beautiful countryside with some great climbs thrown in (7k or so of climbing).

Anyway, heading up with my mom on the Friday before the century from Santa Barbara, we headed up 101 and then turned off on CA-1. I hadn’t actually seen this stretch of 1 except once as a small kid, so the drive itself was great. Slightly more scenic than 101. We arrived at the intersection with Nacimiento-Fergusson just as the fog was starting to lift from that stretch.

(Note that you can click on any picture for a higher resolution version)

From 2009-09-25 – Nacimiento Fergusson Cycling and Drive Up CA-1

Everything is a little more complicated when you’ve also packed for a whole trip..

From 2009-09-25 – Nacimiento Fergusson Cycling and Drive Up CA-1

1 still looking a little foggy:

From 2009-09-25 – Nacimiento Fergusson Cycling and Drive Up CA-1

I should note here that some (most) photos shown for the ascent were actually taken on the descent. So, don’t be surprised if the timestamps on some photos seem really spread out. I’m not actually that slow.

The very first stretch is a pleasant ride with a shallow grade:

From 2009-09-25 – Nacimiento Fergusson Cycling and Drive Up CA-1

This changes dramatically at the first switchback..

From 2009-09-25 – Nacimiento Fergusson Cycling and Drive Up CA-1

The stretch on the right is, while not flat, quite easy. As you can imagine, that means the stretch on the left is..steep.

As you climb up this narrow, scenic road:

From 2009-09-25 – Nacimiento Fergusson Cycling and Drive Up CA-1
From 2009-09-25 – Nacimiento Fergusson Cycling and Drive Up CA-1

You very quickly hit some incredible views:

From 2009-09-25 – Nacimiento Fergusson Cycling and Drive Up CA-1
From 2009-09-25 – Nacimiento Fergusson Cycling and Drive Up CA-1

A little farther and some more ridiculous views:

From 2009-09-25 – Nacimiento Fergusson Cycling and Drive Up CA-1
From 2009-09-25 – Nacimiento Fergusson Cycling and Drive Up CA-1

A bit farther and a view of the road just climbed:

From 2009-09-25 – Nacimiento Fergusson Cycling and Drive Up CA-1

How can you top this?

From 2009-09-25 – Nacimiento Fergusson Cycling and Drive Up CA-1

Rounding the last bend before actually heading inland:

From 2009-09-25 – Nacimiento Fergusson Cycling and Drive Up CA-1

As we head inland and the grade moderates a bit, we lose the ocean views but keep on diving into gorgeous scenery:

From 2009-09-25 – Nacimiento Fergusson Cycling and Drive Up CA-1

And random forested sections:

From 2009-09-25 – Nacimiento Fergusson Cycling and Drive Up CA-1

This cliff face was unique (almost out of place) on this ride:

From 2009-09-25 – Nacimiento Fergusson Cycling and Drive Up CA-1

A sign I’ve not seen anywhere else:

From 2009-09-25 – Nacimiento Fergusson Cycling and Drive Up CA-1

Looking back at the hills you just climbed:

From 2009-09-25 – Nacimiento Fergusson Cycling and Drive Up CA-1

As you near the top you hit a section that was obviously recently burned through:

From 2009-09-25 – Nacimiento Fergusson Cycling and Drive Up CA-1

And, finally, the top!

From 2009-09-25 – Nacimiento Fergusson Cycling and Drive Up CA-1

At just over 2800 feet elevation at the pass, this gives you around 2500 feet of climbing total. Not bad.

You can also continue on to Fort Hunter Liggett if you want:

From 2009-09-25 – Nacimiento Fergusson Cycling and Drive Up CA-1

Or take the ridge road for many miles!

From 2009-09-25 – Nacimiento Fergusson Cycling and Drive Up CA-1

Next time…when I bring slightly thicker tires!

The descent is fun as well..just watch the road debris and watch your speed towards the end as it gets a bit steep. Truly a great ride. Epic scenery. Arriving back at the car we are greeted with one more incredible scene:

From 2009-09-25 – Nacimiento Fergusson Cycling and Drive Up CA-1

Seriously. That is ridiculous.

After loading the car, we drove a couple dozen miles north and finally sated our appetites:

From 2009-09-25 – Nacimiento Fergusson Cycling and Drive Up CA-1

We ate that against this backdrop:

From 2009-09-25 – Nacimiento Fergusson Cycling and Drive Up CA-1

Not bad, right?

This is definitely one of the most scenic climbs around. The only downside is that the most scenic stuff comes in the first half of the ride. While the second half is nice as well, I prefer for the views to keep on improving. That nitpick aside, this ride is incredible. If you can swing it, get out here and ride this road!

Route map:

Cheers, and enjoy!

The Discussion

see what everyone is saying

  • kevin November 12th, 2009 at 7:43 pm #1

    awesome!
    thanks for the write up.

  • Carmen November 13th, 2009 at 8:15 pm #2

    what a great ride. Fantastic scenery unfolding around every turn. Loved the commentary too!

  • Kristin November 28th, 2009 at 2:27 pm #3

    Wow, you have some amazing pictures! Very cool.

    Are we seeing you next weekend for Christmas party fun? We totally need to hang out and catch up. :-)

  • Dennis Lockwood March 1st, 2010 at 1:25 pm #4

    My family and I, from Minnesota, were visiting my brother in San Jose, two years ago. We decided to take the rental car, with GPS, for a little ride down the coast. The GPS indicated a shortcut back to the main highway. This was the road we traveled and it was great, a little easier in a car, than on a bike. We ended up in a military (tank) base just at dark. I’m not sure of who was more nervous, the guard or us. We came out in a town that was the same as our last name. It was meant to be. My wife and I enjoyed your pictures.

  • Eduardo August 2nd, 2010 at 12:42 pm #5

    I just climbed this road on accident over the weekend. I thought it might be 1000′ and a few miles to a campground some people on the beach were motioning to. 7 miles/2800′ and some sore legs I hit the summit. Really nice, never did find that campground though… I think they were talking about the campground on hwy1 1/4mile from the beach!

  • rallison August 3rd, 2010 at 7:15 am #6

    Wow. To climb this road on accident is amazing. Given how isolated this road is (and how far it is from any other known cycling climb), I am surprised. Of course, of all the roads to accidentally ascend, you found one of the most scenic ones! Glad you enjoyed it…and relish the fact that you have climbed one of the least traveled yet most scenic roads in California.

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  • jim July 17th, 2011 at 7:30 pm #9

    Thanks so much for this beautiful write up. I had just found this ride on Map My Ride, but wasn’t sure how it would work. It’s now on the schedule for next weekend and your amazing pix and wonderful commentary sealed the deal. Now off to read about your other routes. Congrats to your mom — she must be a great rider. Thanks again.

  • rallison July 18th, 2011 at 10:59 pm #10

    Let me know how you like the climb. Nacimiento is a pretty unique and very scenic climb. I’ll pass on your congrats to my mom. She just completed the Death Ride with me last week – not bad!

  • download January 30th, 2012 at 9:49 pm #11

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