Greenville Climbs

Caesar's Head Mountain

Caesar’s Head Mountain


This section encompasses climbs around the greater Greenville area. This includes Travelers Rest, Taylors, Pickens, Tigerville, Marietta, Table Rock, and many of the surrounding areas.

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
Asbury Hill / Lakemont Rd This is a difficult route to get to Caesar’s Head Mountain. The climb is about a mile long, but there is a sick grunt section with high double-digit grades. At it’s steepest, it is over 20%. Make sure you have some easy gearing before attempting the big mountain from this direction. Strava, Seizure’s Head Slog Fest
Caesar’s Head Mountain This is the benchmark climb in the area, with 6+ miles of climbing at varying grades. It seldom gets above 8%, although there are some steep parts on the second half. Like many climbs, it is easier on the lower section, and tougher up near the top. The climb is divided by a short flat section of maybe a 1/2 mile. It can also be climbed from Cedar Mountain, but that side is not nearly as difficult. It is 4-miles, but not all of that is climbing, and the climbs are not that steep. Strava (tough side), Strava (easy side), Assault on the Carolinas, Table Rock Weekend, Seizure’s Head Slog Fest
Callahan Mountain / Camp Old Indian Steep and short. The pavement is marked with the word ‘GRUNT’ in large letters coming from the south side, with good reason. This is a tough climb, with grades in the upper teens. It is just about as tough on both sides. Strava (South), Strava (North), Marquis de Sade, Fabulous 4th Bike Tour, Ride 4 Animal Care
Hwy 178 / Rocky Bottom Highway 178 has a couple of small, similar climbs along the way to Rosman, NC. They are mostly moderate with grades at or below 6-8%. There is a short descent after the first climb, which follows with another up to Rocky Bottom and the Eastern Continental Divide. This is also the way to get to Sassafras Mountain. Strava (Initial 178), Strava (Rocky Bottom), Sassafras Mountain
Packs Mountain A grunt hill if I’ve ever seen one! This baby is steeep! It starts with a big pitch that exceeds 20%. It then levels off, and before you think mercy might be coming, it turns up again to 20%. A little further up is yet another steep pitch. It may be a brutal climb, but fortunately is only about a mile until you are up in a scenic neighborhood area. Strava, Marquis de Sade
Paris Mountain This is the signature Greenville city-limits climb, and can be accessed off of the Swamp Rabbit trail near Travelers Rest. From the Furmal side, it is steep near the bottom and the top, but not bad aside from that. From the CVS side it rolls a little bit, but it also has the steepest section, appropriately named "The Wall." Strava (Furman side), Midmorning on Paris Mountain
Sassafras Mountain The highest point in South Carolina is a gut-busting climb. There are several sections with 20% grades. The difficult part of this part is that it is inconsistent. You are either going up or down, which breaks up your rhythmn. I hear that it has been paved recently and they are building a new park at the summit. Strava, Sassafras Mountain
South Saluda Rd More of a grunt hill, sort of in between Caesar’s Head Mountain and Table Rock State Park. At a couple points, the grade gets into the teens. Strava, Table Rock Weekend
Swamp Rabbit Trail This is not really a climb, and more for recreation, but there are a few notable hills. There’s a steep one near the heart of Greenville at Falls Park. There are a couple minor hills headed toward Travelers Rest, few of which are very steep. There are a couple steeper bumps on the south side near Greenville Technical College. Strava (Entire North Trail), Strava (Reedy River), Swamp Rabbit Trail
Table Rock State Park This is a good place to park for climbing rides in the area. The riding inside the park, however, can be brutal. There are many hills that you could describe as rolling, but they are insanely steep, sometimes exceeding a 20% grade. Strava (Table Rock), Strava (Mulligan Ford Hill), Table Rock Weekend
Vineyard This is a short, one-mile climb near the La Bastide hotel, recently purchased by the Hincapie brothers. It can also be combined with a similar stretch on Old Hwy 25 for a longer climb exceeding 2-miles. These are not the most challenging or scenic climbs, but they are enough to keep you working hard. Strava (Vineyard), Strava (Old Hwy 25), Ride 4 Animal Care
Watershed This climb starts in the northern part of South Carolina, not far from Tigerville, and 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, Marquis de Sade, Fabulous 4th Bike Tour, Ride 4 Animal Care

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

9 responses to “Greenville Climbs

  • Mark Schmerling

    If Callahan Mountain has grades in the “upper teens,” I’ll eat my cleats.

    It’s a fairly challenging climb (I’ve done it several times from the direction of Old Route 25, toward Rt. 912. Grades in the “upper teens”? Please check your measuring devices.

    I’ve climbed the section of Holbert Cove Road (outside Saluda, NC), both from Saluda,and from Silver Creek Road. From Saluda, part of the climb up from Cove Creek (near the two Bradley waterfalls) is about 14%, while the nasty climb up Piney Mountain from Silver Creek Road, has a section that is about 17.5%. Both of these are more difficult that Callahan Mountain. My computer does not register grades, but those figures on Holbert Cove Road came from one of the area’s premier cyclists. I’m not in good enough shape to climb Callahan Mountain with little or no agony, so I can tell you that the grades are less than stated here. I have seen elsewhere that the average grade for the approximately one-mile climb is about seven per cent, with some sections around 10%. That seems about right.

    Regardless, thank you for the posts.

    • aaronwest

      Hey Mark, thanks for visiting and I appreciate the feedback. I use a Garmin to get an eyeball of the grade. It isn’t altogether accurate on the steeper climbs, but usually I can tell by looking at Garmin Connect and Strava which also measures the grade. The climb has a couple pitches that do hit the teens. I double checked the Strava and it’s steeper from the north side with pitches of 15-19%. The overall climb is not as steep because there are level and easier sections and even a slight downhill. To me, Howard Gap is much harder because it’s a consistent steep grade in double digits. Callahan has some tough grunts that come and go, but sometimes that makes it tougher because you cannot get into a climbing groove at the same grade. I’ve ridden Callahan about a dozen times and consider it pretty tough, but not insurmountable. We usually use it to quickly warm up the legs.

      Haven’t climbed Holbert Cove from Silver Creek, but I imagine from the descent that it’s pretty brutal. One day. There are some steep bumps as you mentioned from Saluda, and they are no cakewalks, but not as tough to me as Callahan.

      Of course it’s all subjective. Some people will find Holbert tougher because your legs are cold after the descent, while others will find it easy for that reason because they tackle with fresh legs.

      Again, thanks for the feedback. The next time I’m out there, I’ll watch the grade a little more carefully.

    • Chris Brun

      Per ride with GPS Callahan on the tougher side registers at 12.2%. On my Garmin it registered at 14%. But everyone can go try a hill over off poors Ford road, called green creek rd. It’s a 1/2 mile hill on ride with gps it peaks at 10%, per garmin it’s 13%. Both apps avg around 8% for the entire climb

  • Mark Schmerling

    Thanks so much for your reply. Next time I’m in that area, I’ll try Callahan Mtn. from the north side. My short list for this year does include Howard Gap Road, and I agree with you that it’s probably much harder than Callahan, because it’s something like 11% for about a mile and a half. Whenever I drive up it, I tell myself that I can climb it, but later in the eyar when I’m in better shape. Howard Gap reminds me of Dutch Hill, a very similar climb outside Coudersport, in northcentral Pa. I did that, but didn’t care for another go around before I moved away!

    Fresh legs and lots of rest always help. Another incentive for tough hills is the difficulty of unclipping, and the near impossibility of re-clipping. So, one just has to beat the pedals, and keep going.

    Have you climbed White Oak Mountain outside Columbus (NC)? That’s not even a fun drive!

    Thanks so much, Aaron, for sharing.

    Mark Schmerling

  • Mark Schmerling

    Hi Aaron,

    This past afternoon, I cycled both sides of Callahan Mountain, starting from Old Route 25 (actually starting from Saluda, NC). I’d never ridden the north side before (traveling from the direction of Route 11, going toward Old Rt. 25). Overall, I think that each side is of similar difficulty, but the north side is definitely steeper near the bottom (going up from Route 912, a bit steeper than any part of the climb up from Old Rt. 25. I’d guess that at least parts of the first 200-300 yards are in the low teens, as I was using my small chain ring (of my hybrid), but had the largest cog in reserve and did not need it. If the grade was 14-15% or above, I would have needed that last cog, and probably would have struggled, maybe badly. In any case, it was a great ride both ways, and I was glad that the grade eased considerably after that initial pitch.

    Of course, my legs were fresher on the climb from the south side, but the lower part of the north side is definitely steeper.

    Thank you.


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