Five or seven years ago, I started riding with the Eastside tours group. We ride Tuesday and Thursday nights all over the east side, and we climb a lot of hills. A couple of years ago, I was lucky enough to inherit the leadership of the group from Per Sunde.
I’ve learned a lot about the hills on the east side during this time. In my spare time, I run a website – BicycleClimbs.com – that show the different ways up those hills.
I’ve decided to share that information through a series of posts that talk about a hill and the different ways that you can climb it. If you want to know the easiest way up, I’ll show you that, and I’ll also show you the harder ways. I’ve ridden up pretty much all of the routes I’ll show; if I haven’t I’ll let you know.
Since I’m hoping it will be educational, I’m starting with Education Hill north of Redmond.
Education hill is the hill directly north of Redmond. It is named because of the number of schools that it contains.
Easier ways up
- The easy traditional way up the hill is from the west [A], starting near 60 acres. This climb starts with a very steep (15% or so) section right at the beginning (okay, so it’s not that easy), and then is a mostly easy climb except for the last little pitch near the top. This climb is featured on the 7 hills metric century ride.
- There’s a nicer option [B] that starts at 124th and avoids the steep climb at the beginning. It tends to have a bit less traffic, but the road has a few deep grooves in it, so pay attention.
- From the east, NE 116th St [D] is the easiest way up, and is also featured on the 7 hills metric century. It has a couple of steep sections but isn’t too bad.
That’s it for the easy ways up. The other options are harder.
- If you head east on 124th, you can turn tight and climb up 162nd Pl SE [C]. This is a steep climb, peaking at around 15%, but is pretty good from a traffic standpoint.
- From the east, there are two harder ways up. The first is 104th [E], which is really steep – a sustained pitch in the 15% range, and it has a lot of traffic. It does feature a bike lane, but I don’t think you are going to enjoy it, and I don’t recommend it. Just to the south off of Avondale, there is the Hidden Ridge Trail [F]that cuts into the neighborhoods to a nicer climb. Still quite steep, but with less traffic and a bit more rolling; this is a much nicer way to the top.
- From the south there are a few options. The westernmost one is 166th Ave NE [G]. This is a two lane road without any shoulder, so I wouldn’t recommend it unless it’s a really quiet time from a traffic sense. A bit two the east, there are three options. 171st [I] and 172nd [J] Aves NE both start with a steep pitch on NE 80th, and then both turn north and run parallel to each other. I think 172nd is a bit easier, though ask me tomorrow and my answer may change. 171st has a bike lane, while 172nd doesn’t, but 172nd has less traffic. Both peak at perhaps 11%.
A climb through a new development just to the west of these, 169th [H] offers a route that gets steep and flattens repeatedly. The maximum gradient is around 14%.
The easy ways down work fine when descending east or west. I do not recommend descending 104th to the east; it’s super-steep, it ends at a stoplight, and there is sometimes a bit of grit on the road. Either take the hidden ridge trail, or head down 116th. Heading to the south, 166th is a nice way down; just beware the stoplight right at the bottom of the hill.