Oat Mountain – The Valley’s Secret Climb

Oat Mountain – 5.3 miles, 1,963 elevation gain, 7%

Oat Mountain isn’t as widely known as it should be.

That could be because of its location tucked into the northwest corner of the valley, pure difficulty of the climb, the conditions of the road or a combination of any of these factors.

Although I’ve had many friends ride it, I haven’t heard a lot of repeat stories, so I had to have a look for myself.

The starting point comes off the northern terminus of DeSoto just north of the 118 freeway with the entrance to Browns Canyon Road just off to your right.



Starting off of DeSoto


From here, it is 5.3 miles to the restricted area averaging a deceiving 7% since there are some flat and downhill portions along the way.

After a brief climb up, the street winds below a series of new homes on your right while the ravine below to your left is hard to spot.

You’re also going to be faced a series of double digit grades for both climbing and descending the first mile.



An early glimpse of where you’re headed.


I didn’t do a lot of R & D to start, but I did stop to check my maps a couple of times thinking I should head off on the gated dirt roads, when staying on pavement was the right course.

Moving on, the road flattens up enough that it becomes the right terrain for horses which is why you’ll see a series of ranches.

Soon, you’ll leave these domiciles behind as this will be the last time you’ll see any form of habitation on the ride.

While the pitch is still relatively flat, the hills start to bunch up on you limiting your orientation.



Last stretch of sensible climbing.


That soon gets rudely interrupted as this valley ends and the only offering out. is a series of neck-cracking switchbacks that you have to claw your way up.

From this point, the ride averages 12% for the next 3.1 miles, so vacation time is over.

While the road is still paved, I was glad to be riding my gravel bike because this would be a rickety descent on the way back riding 25s.

You’re painfully climbing in the mid to high teens in terms of grade while asking yourself, “Is this the worst to come?”



Antonovich’s Gates of Hell!


Rolling up to the entrance of the Mike Antonovich Regional Park, you’re offered a small reprieve coming up to the gate, but your eyes are focused on the next steep section above you.

At least here you get a pretty expansive view of the Santa Susana Pass to your left, but you’ll be bottoming out of your gears as you do it.



Oh Susana. Santa Susana that is.


It’s still hard to catch a glimpse of where you’re ultimately headed and by that time you’ll hit a change of pace.

If you want to pass the time, just try to guess where Charles Manson’s hideout was in these hills.

After a few minutes of pain, the road turns inward where you’ll roll through the suspiciously flat section bounded my abandoned structures known as the former Nike Missle Base.

I heard stories of this area being off limits and cyclists being told by sheriffs to leave or get arrested, but I saw no signs regarding this.



Can’t find this listed on Zillow.


The area to the east is more of a draw because there is still a concrete structure that has withstood the fires the occasionally plague the area.

Your attention is turned to the burned out bus that wasn’t so fortunate leaving a skeletal reminder that a number of people must have used this facility.



My bike somehow survived.


The biggest question I have to ask is how this bus made it up in the first place?

You’d think whoever maneuvered it up there must have received some help from a helicopter drop.

I wanted to take a bunch of cool, apocalyptic pictures of my bike, but a sentry of bees chased me off dampening my street cred.

As you emerge from this bunker, you return to heavy climbing, but for the first time in a few miles, you get a sense of where you’re headed.

Your focus drawn to the flat, carved out fire road in the side of Oat Mountain because who wouldn’t rather be riding something that comforting?



Flatness ahead?


Of course, you’re still dealing with perspective issues and getting there takes longer than you want.

Riding at grades around 15% is not anyone’s definition of fun, but at least its paved!



Enter at your own risk of more climbing!


It takes you about 2/3 mile from the base, but at least the cattle rail offers a mental break from the suffering.

Once you reach the “flat” section, you realize this segment is far shorter and not as much of a reprieve than you think.



Not as flat as you think…


At least once the vertical returns, you turn northward to get a much different view.

Not only does Simi Valley open up, but you get a closer look at parts of the hillside you’ve never seen by car.



There’s oil in them thar hills!


Despite there being oil pumps interspersed, there is still a pastoral feel to the area as if it made more sense to settle there a couple of generations ago.

The biggest shock of the ride came as I completed the turn seeing a bunch of cattle sitting down within striking distance.



This climb is almost total bull!


At least with snakes, bears, mountain lions and the such, I have a semblance of knowing what I should do, but I had never been close enough to start a stampede before.

The fact that they looked bored gave me confidence they would leave me alone, so since I went this far, why not finish off the ride?



The end is near, but forbidden.


As you see the station up ahead, the road hits near 20% as you’ve got a couple of minutes of climbing left until you make it to the no trespassing sign.

Of course, it would be great to continue on into “There Will Be Blood” country, but completing stiffer than expected grades made me content that this is a fulfilling enough of a climb.



Great view. Terrible descent.


Remember, the road is in crappy condition, so descending will not be a reward.

If you complete Oat Mountain, you’re definitely inline to receive some street cred from CiclaValley, but you’ll definitely have to shed some sweat to get through it.