Pincushion Hill Climb
ElevationAscent: 874' 266 m
Descent: -872' -266 m
High: 1,474' 449 m
Low: 600' 183 m
GradeAvg Grade: 12% (7°)
Max Grade: 26% (15°)
Current trail conditions
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“Exhilarating one mile and 1000 feet hill climb!”— Cloud Shadow
N. Friant Rd becomes Millerton Rd as you reach the Friant Dam. Turn left at Sky Harbour Rd by the Table Mountain Casino (which can make for another interesting stop after your run). If you are going early and need to use the restroom, be sure to contact the Millerton Lake park rangers for the latest info: (559) 822-2332. Bathrooms and the parking lot gate may not be open if your come really early. Bring water as there is only sparse shade, and no easy access to water along the trail (except for a drinking fountain at the trailhead).
As you wind clockwise around the base of the hill to the east-facing side, you'll come to an unnamed, big fork in the trail. Stay to the right and it will take you up to the peak (if you continue to the left, you'll keep going on the San Joaquin River Trail upriver). The trail rises before you, and you'll pass under a few trees in spots where you can pause to catch your breath, or keep pushing on up!
The final section before the summit requires you to scramble up boulders. Be careful in these spots, because it's easy to stumble (and tumble) when you're tired, both on the way up and on the way down. The view from the top is awesome: Yosemite just over the horizon to the north, Fresno to the south, the Central Valley to the west, and the Sierra Nevada foothills to the east.
After enjoying the views, head back the way you came. Be careful of your downhill speed as you descend the trail. There are many loose rocks and ankle-deep erosion ruts along the trail. You can run the Pincushion Hill out-and-back as part of a longer run along the San Joaquin River Trail which stretches close to 100 miles upriver.
Local Club: San Joaquin Running