This section presented me with a real quandry.
For a long time, “The Zoo” was the king of the climbs – and with good reason: it was the hardest/tallest/closest climb around, and it had a nice fast descent. Just down the road was little brother Montreux, also a hard climb but only about half the total elevation.
I made an attempt at melding the two of them together using a cut-through path on this route, but not really successfully; the cut through was gravel – deep gravel – and it didn’t really make the climb any harder. I did it once, but never went back.
Then, something unexpected happened – the City of Bellevue paved a path that connected the developments above Montreux to the Zoo route, and Montreux-Zooma’s revenge was born.
Which returns me to the quandry. Which route should I choose? It seems wrong, just wrong, to have a hard ride and not climb the granddaddy of hard climbs…
But, in the end, I decided I had to go with the difficulty, and so we’re doing Montreux-Zooma…
And that’s how the original description for this section went. But, I got to thinking about it a bit. The reason that Zoo was dethroned was not because of Monteux, it was because of the climb that connects the top of Montreux to Zoo. And there’s a way to combine the first half of zoo with that part – using the cut through I had abandoned before – into a new climb, which I’ve named “ZooMonZoo”. it looks good for the ride on paper, with a tiny elevation gain and an overall reduction in ride length of 0.2 miles.
So, I went out and rode the new part to see what is was like. I hadn’t done Zoo yet this year – mapping out this ride generally put me elsewhere – and I’d forgotten what it was like. Montreux is a hard and painful climb through a nice and boring development, while the lower part of Zoo is a hard and painful climb past a zoo and through a delightful forest that reminds me of the Mt. Constitution climb on Orcas island. And the cut through is easier to ride than it was previously.
So… we’ll be doing ZooMonZoo instead of Montreux-Zooma.
This is the hardest section so far, and it’s easy to miss turns, so pay attention…
The entrance is easy to find; there is a “Zoo” sign on the right.
We turn left and immediately hit a steep pitch. After a bit of back and forth and steeper and less steep sections, we near the hairpin. If you look closely, you will see that the sign says it is a 15 MPH turn, which is pretty tight. And you can see why I call the climb “delightful”.
We continue on a bit, and the 15 MPH turn morphs into a 10 MPH turn.
It doesn’t show in the picture, but the inside of the hairpin is really, really steep. Like 20%+ steep. It is also a bit torn up from car traffic. You will be much happier if you stay out near the center line, where the gradient is less and the pavement is a bit better.
Soon after the hairpin, the gradient eases, the lower part of the Zoo ends, and we turn right onto the middle section. We ride straight for 0.5 miles, and just when we can glimpse the steep rollers that finish the middle section, we see our turn-off on the right. Don’t worry, we have something more fun than the steep rollers in store.
The cut-through is in pretty good shape; it’s easy to ride in the first section but the gravel gets a little bit deeper near the other side; I didn’t have any trouble on my 25mm tires but I suggest paying attention. We take the first left, and that will take us down to Village Park Drive – the top of the Montreux climb.
We turn left, and start to descend. After half a mile, we will be turning left in “Findley Court”. The entrance looks like this, and there is a “please drive safely” sign on right side at the turn, though it may be hidden in the trees.
The road starts steep and then just gets steeper. After it flattens out and we turn left on 169th:
and the road will kick up again. After a short section, we take the second left:
to a small driveway/pathway which will kick us out onto SE 60th. We turn left, and then take the first right:
to continue the climb to the summit. When this road flattens out and starts to descend, keep going and take the first driveway to the right:
This will take you all the way up to water towers at the top of the hill:
Turn around, and it looks like this. You can just barely make out Mt. Baker on the horizon.
Descend back down to the main road, turn left, and start the descent. After a short straight section, the road turns right, and we continue straight (ie turn left) into Pinacles:
Unfortunately you can’t see the sign when descending. This takes us up a steep climb that flattens. Turn left into the cul-de-sac to get the last little bit of elevation. On the way down, stop to take in the best view of the day:
On the left, Newcastle Golf Course with Lake Washington beyond, to the right is “Summit” with Seattle peaking in the distance.
Once we hit the main road again, we turn left and again start looking for a left turn, this time on 166th Way.
This will go straight for a while, then we will turn left to climb up through Belvedere:
This is the last climb of the complex. This takes us to pretty much the same height as Pinacles, just a bit to the south.
To the left there’s a pocket view of Lake Washington with Newport Golf Course in the middle and the lake beyond, and then Seattle in the distance on the right. Plus, some hay bales and a very pretty truck.
Finally, we descend down, once again turn left, and descend until we hit Lakemont. Turn right and a short climb brings us to Lewis Creek Park, which has water and bathrooms.
That section was 10.4 miles and a healthy 2030’ of elevation gain.