HWY 130 – Mt Hamilton Road
View Mt. Hamilton Road in a larger map
Mt Hamilton Road (aka HWY 130) runs from east San Jose through Joseph D. Grant County Park and over the highest peak in the south bay at over 4,100 feet. This is a very technical road and not for new riders/drivers or anyone that is not comfortable with heights or sheer drop offs. I have counted over 360 curves in 11 miles on Mt Hamilton, and the twisty part is about 30 miles long (I just had to compare to the claims of another bike road). Mt Hamilton is a very challenging road, usually has little if any traffic and limited patrols. Many bike and car clubs do frequent the mountain, so be aware there may be some silliness going on. Also be aware of bicyclists on this road. These are hard core riders and are usually considerate and realize there are high speed machines they are sharing the road with. You can often find some of these folks going downhill that are fast enough that it may be difficult to pass them safely.
Heading from San Jose, the road is in fair shape. Tight with mostly first and second gear corners. This side of the mountain seems to get used more so is usually in worse shape than the west side. Watch for rocks, dirt and gravel. There are lots of switch backs and tight hairpin turns.
At the peak is the James Lick Observatory. Built nearly 100 years ago, it is a great tour if you like early 1900’s steam punkesk type architecture and equipment. Stopping at the observatory, tour or not, is a must for the view of the south bay. You may also find a member of law enforcement up here with binoculars who may have been watching you come up the road.
The road continues west down the west side of the mountain where it meets up with Mines Road and Del Puerto Canyon Road at an intersection known as The Junction. This side of the mountain is far less travelled and in pretty good condition. Still very technical and it takes all of your attention. If you want to look at the view of the valley, pull over. The Junction is a hangout for all wheeled vehicles, gas and human powered, for a drink or lunch and to talk.