Best Hamilton Climbs

(Photos: @bobbybicycles)

(Written by: Jeremy Rae)

In my opinion, the Hamilton area's got some of the best cycling in Ontario, as it sits right along the scenic Niagara Escarpment. While we may not have the huge climbs that can be found out West (or even out East), we’ve got a diversity of roads that are easily accessed from the city centre. 

Disclaimer: This is not a list of the most popular climbs, nor is it comprehensive. This list will also surely change based on my levels of fitness and motivation, as some of them are pretty challenging. I also generally don’t like climbs with lots of traffic, and with the exception of one, these are all pretty quiet.

Next time you're in Hamilton, consider hitting some of these climbs (but don't go faster than my KOMs, please):

5. Mt. Albion Road. This one’s got a place on the list for me because I start about half my rides there. It’s the shortest and easiest of the one on this list, but the last 1.5km of it is closed to cars, notably the steepest part, which allows for some serious mail-man-ing. It also crosses the Bruce Trail near the top (what can be taken from this list is that the Bruce Trail is seemingly everywhere in Hamilton), and from there you’re very close to the open, flat roads that lie to the South of Hamilton. From there, go south towards Caledonia, or East towards Grimsby.

4. Binkley Rd. This one is closed off at the bottom, and you technically can’t access it from Governors anymore, making it very quiet and hardly ridden (you need to access it from Concession 2). It’s got three very steep kicks (over 20% at times) that make it pretty tough. It’s also completely covered by a tree canopy, and you go under a really cool train bridge near the bottom. (Edit: This is @bobbybicycles favourite spot to shoot in the area). 

3. King Road. Technically Burlington, but I said Hamilton area so... This one and Kerns are essentially the same profile, but King is now closed at the top, making it extremely quiet. It also doesn’t have stop signs all the way up like Kerns does. Halfway up King you go by a dog park that has a great view of Hamilton Bay, and then the last 300m are viciously steep. King is known to have some sort of magnetic hill phenomenon, where right near the top it seems as if you’re going downhill but you’re still going up. In the spring you may also catch some salamanders running across the road. (2024 edit: King is now too busy- Kerns is now actually the better of the two.)

2. Old Dundas/Old Ancaster. This is the only climb on the list where traffic can be an issue, but in my opinion, it’s worth it. What I like about this climb is the constantly changing gradient and direction, meaning there’s some respite built in. You start downtown Dundas, pass by the Monarch and Bruce Trail, go through a tree covered switchback, and end up in Ancaster. Stop for a rest at the Ancaster Mill, it’s a beautiful old restaurant along the Ancaster creek. If it weren't for the traffic, I'd probably give Old Ancaster the top spot. This segment, along with others on this list, has recently been under siege by national team rider Derek Gee and local strongman Mark Brouwer, but trust me when I say it'll be back in Ascent hands soon :) .

1. 50 Road. Right at the top of the list is one of the most challenging hill around. Difficulty isn’t everything though; it’s at the top of the list because it’s a beautiful climb. It features two switchbacks and goes through a tree canopy. Halfway up you’ll see the Bruce Trail crossing, and as you crest the climb you get one of the best views of the Hamilton/GTA area. They also recently repaved parts of this climb, which makes the suffering a little more tolerable. This hill is one of the better ones around for those thinking about an Everesting.

Notable others: Sydenham, McNeilly, James Mountain, Snake Rd.