Tryon/Saluda Climbs

Green River Cove Rd

Green River Cove Rd

NCMap-doton-TryonThis section encompasses climbs around the greater Tryon/Saluda area. This also includes Flat Rock, Tuxedo, Zirconia, Landrum (SC) and the surrounding areas.

The table below has a description of the climb, Strava segment links, and website content links.

Disclaimer: Climb AT YOUR OWN RISK! Many of these will be difficult, strenuous, with dangerous descents. Do your own research and make sure you are prepared for the terrain. You are responsible for yourself!

Climb Description Links
Camp Creek Road A quiet, gravelly road behind the town of Saluda. There is a short descent and then a short, mile-long climb in the 6-8% vicinity. Strava, Freezing Fun
Flat Rock Hill Rd A short and steep climb near Howard Gap and Skyuka Mountain, not far from Harmon Field in Tryon. Strava, Hincapie Gran Fondo
Fork Creek This is an alternate way up the Saluda Grade from the Pearson Falls area. Compared to the climb up 176, this is a lot steeper. Fork Creek and West Fork Creek head towards the Mine Mountain, Mountain Page area. This is the way a lot of people descend after riding up the Watershed. Strava, Two Sundays in Saluda
Green River Cove One of the toughest climbs of the area is covered by trees and has 17 tight switchbacks. The grade is between 8-10% in the toughest spots, and steeper if the inside of the switchbacks are taken. Be careful of opposing traffic when climbing. The climb ends near the I-26 Saluda exit. Strava, Tour de Leaves, Green River Cove Revisited, Hincapie Gran Fondo, Marquis de Sade
Greenville Watershed This climb starts in the northern part of South Carolina, not far from Tigerville, but is a popular climb up to Saluda. It is a scenic, moderate climb around the North Saluda reservoir. The climb splits up, where you can head towards Mine Mountain and Saluda, or towards Flat Rock. Strava (NC State Line), Strava (towards Flat Rock), Fabulous 4th Bike Tour, Hincapie Gran Fondo, Cherokee Foothills Bicycle Tour, Marquis de Sade, Two Sundays in Saluda
Greenwood Rd A short and steep grunt hill behind Highway 176, in between Landrum, SC and Tryon, NC. This is a challenging hill, with the first pitch exceeding a 20% grade at times. Fortunately it does not last long. Strava, Freezing Fun
Hogback Mountain A challenging climb in the backyard of Tryon. It can be accessed either from south of Tryon via Dug Hill Rd and Carolina Drive, or from School Street in downtown Tryon. It is a tough climb from either direction, over 4-miles of mostly neighborhood roads until you approach the top. The paved climb ends at a gated subdivision at the top. Strava (from Dug Hill), Strava (from School St), Strava (Hogback only), White Oak and Hogback, Hogback Mountain Revisited
Howard Gap Road Howard Gap in Tryon is one of the toughest climbs in the area. What’s difficult about this is that it is straight and steep. You can see where you are going, and the grade is consistently in the teens with no breaks. It is a slow grind to the top for over a mile. Strava, Howard Gap Rd, Howard Gap Revisited, Freezing Fun, Hincapie Gran Fondo
Mine Gap This road outside of Zirconia is more like three grunt hills rather than a climb, and all of them are steep. The road kicks up above 10%, levels off, then kicks up again, then level, then again. Strava, Tour de Leaves
Mine Mountain This is a short climb that is often tacked to the end of the Watershed before descending towards Tryon via Fork Creek. It is steeper and shorter than the Watershed. It gets tougher as you go, with grades around 10% at the steepest. Strava, Fabulous 4th Bike Tour, Hincapie Gran Fondo, Cherokee Foothills Bicycle Tour, Marquis de Sade
New Market Rd This is a grunt hill just behind downtown Tryon. There is writing on the road warning of the climb’s beginning. When the road pitches up, it is brutally steep, in the 18-20% range. After those first 100 feet are climb, it levels off and then turns up again. The last section is steep, but not as tough as the beginning. Strava, The First Leaf Tour, Freezing Fun
Pinnacle Mountain This is arguably the toughest climb in the area. It can be accessed via Pinnacle Mountain Rd not far from Flat Rock. The first climb is up to SkyTop Orchard, but that is a false summit. After travelling down the road for a ways, the real climb begins. After a moderate start, you’ll turn the corner and see a steep wall to climb. It ranges from 15-25%, very steep, until easing up at the very end. There is no summit view, but there should be writing on the pavement signifying the end of the climb. Strava, Pinnacle Mountain: The Beautiful Beast
Pot Shoals This climb starts at the base of the Green River and ends at Highway 176 between Saluda and Flat Rock. Like many climbs in the area, it is short and steep, averaging above 10%. Strava, Freezing Fun
Saluda Grade This is the primary climb from Tryon to Saluda via Highway 176. There are really two climbs. The first part takes you to Pearson Falls, where it is flat for a little while. You there have the option to continue up 176 or climb via Fork Creek. 176 takes you directly into Saluda via a moderate climb in the 6-8% range with some switchbacks. This is also a popular descent back into Saluda. Strava, Two Sundays in Saluda, Tour de Leaves, Fabulous 4th Bike Tour
Sky Top Orchard This is the initial climb up Pinnacle Mountain Rd from nearby Flat Rock. The first pitch is visibly steep and intimidating. It touches 20% in the very beginning before easing up at around 10%. The further you climb, the easier it gets until you reach the top at Sky Top Orchard. Strava, Pinnacle Mountain: The Beautiful Beast
Skyuka / White Oak Mountain One of the tougher climbs in the area. It is a few miles with steep sections, and very few breaks until you get to the top. There are many tight switchbacks on the way up, and is a dangerous descent from either side. It can be climbed via Skyuka Mountain or White Oak Mountain Rd. The latter is the more scenic with panoramic views and a waterfall not far from the summit. There is also a nice viewing point near the top. Strava (Skyuka Mountain Rd), Marquis de Sade, White Oak Mountain Revisited, Hincapie Gran Fondo, Skyuka Descent

Map images: Seth Anthony / CC-BY-SA-3.0

7 responses to “Tryon/Saluda Climbs

  • Eddie Adams

    As usual, Great work Aaron. Love your site!

  • Mark Schmerling


    I hope you continue to recover, and enjoy the best that these regional roads have to offer. Thank yo for sharing so much helpful information.

    Question: Are you (Or is anyone here) familiar with Holbert Mountain (NOT Holbert Cove) Road, which descends from Old U.S. 25, just north of the SC/NC line, a bit south of Tuxedo, NC?

    I pass it while cycling on Old 25. Holbert Mountain Road seems to descend fairly steeply, but I’ve not explored it, either by car or bike. I’ll do it shortly, but wonder if anyone can share their experience(s).

    Thanks so much.


    • aaronwest

      Hey Mark, Appreciate the best wishes. I don’t recall riding on that one, although I’m positive I’ve been near it and in the vicinity. I may have climbed it and not realized it. I’ll ask around and maybe someone who swings by this page will have able to chime in.

  • Mark Schmerling

    Hey Aaron,

    Thanks for the quick response. This is supposed to be a holiday, right? I hope you’re enjoying it in some way.

    Yeah, Holbert Mountain Road is probably off most people’s radar. In fact, my DeLorme North Carolina Atlas and Gazetteer shows a Vance (NOt Holbert) Mountain in that location, and seems to show no paved road going off Old 25 there. Also, it doesn’t show3 Gap Creek Road, going off of Old 25 right at the state line.

    So . . . I’ll try to check it out on my next ride– some time later this week. I’ll report back. I have no way to measure grade, but I’ll get a read on the distance and general difficulty or lack of.

    Possibly, it’s not be much of a ride, but I’ll find out.

    Be well Aaron. Some day, I hope to see you on the road. I begin many of my rides in downtown Saluda (NC), and often head into the Watershed. (Bright yellow jersey, mostly black shorts, old Cannondale H300, blue helmet, short salt-and-pepper beard.

    Last Thursday, I started from there. turned south on Old Rt. 25, went on Callahan Mtn. Road, went up the first side, down the other, out to SC Rt. 11, turned around, went up the back side of Callahan, down the Poinsett Bridge side, back to Old 25, north into NC, and up 225 to Mt. Olivet Road. Then, up Mt. Olivet Road, and tgurned around at Pinnacle Mountain Rd, and back to Saluda, via 225, Old 25, Saluda Road, Mtn. Page Road and Greenville Street. With aa bit of “rounding up”mileage around town, it was 51 miles. That’s okay on my old hybrid (I do have narrower tires and clipless pedals).

    By the way, you might already know that Old Rt. 25 has been given the chip treatment recently, and is slightly dicey from the NC line through much of the Watershed.

    I’d like to write a letter to SC DOT, telling them how unsafe it makes the road for cyclists. Do you have access to any figures on how many cyclists use that road in a given week?

    Since the road is no longer a U.S. Route, it probably receives minimal maintenance funding– Yeah, just toss some mini-gravel out there, and let the (minor number of) motor vehicle beat it in to the road– ha!

    They need to hear from all of us.



  • hikecyclephoto

    Hey Aaron, and all others,

    While I can’t run with the big dogs, I’ve no reason to stay on the porch. Today, I finally put off the inevitable, and climbed Skyuka Mountain Road on my road bike. Yes, it goes on and on, making it as much a mental challenge as physical. While the effort passes through climbing hell (as in when will this finally end?), it finishes in heaven. Didn’t stop on the way up, but stopped three times on the descent, to rest my braking-weary forearms. Ouch!

    Best to you.

    Mark Schmerling, Saluda, NC

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