Claremont Canyon is located on the north end of Oakland and climbs to the top of the Oakland hills where it intersects with Grizzly Peak Blvd. and Fish Ranch Road.
Claremont Canyon was a part of the Rancho San Antonio land grant in 1820, but the area around the canyon was not developed until 1858 when the East Bay's first telegraph line was run up the canyon and over the hills into Contra Costa County, linking Oakland with the rest of the country. Claremont Canyon was not the original name, with the area first being called Harwood's Canyon, and then Telegraph Canyon. Through the last half of the 19th century the canyon was used as one of the primary means of traveling between Oakland and Contra Costa county. Pony Express riders used the canyon on the last leg of their route between Sacramento and San Francisco, descending into Oakland and boarding the Pony Express ferry in Jack London Square. Before extensive development took place in Oakland and Berkeley, the land in the canyon was used for cattle grazing, dairying, some minor quarrying, and the development of natural springs to supply water to the city.
Travel through Claremont Canyon decreased after 1903 when the Kennedy Tunnel between Oakland and Lafayette was opened. It decreased still further when the Caldecott Tunnel was opened in 1937. With the opening of the Caldecott Tunnel, Claremont Canyon ceased being an effective or easy way to get over the hills and the quantity of vehicular traffic dropped dramatically.
There are a number of homes towards the bottom of the canyon, but the majority of the undeveloped land in the area is shared between two major landholders; The University of California, Berkeley, manages roughly 150 acres near the top of the canyon, while the East Bay Regional Parks District manages a 208-acre preserve in the middle and lower portion of the canyon. The history of the Claremont Canyon Regional Preserve dates back to the 1970s when local residents campaigned to have the city and the East Bay Regional Parks District acquire land in the canyon in order to prevent its development. The canyon currently sees most of its use from hikers who use the regional preserve's land as a link between other popular hiking destinations, such as Sibley Volcanic Park and Tilden Regional Park. The other major users of the canyon are cyclists who use the road as a quick, though tough, road into and out of the East Bay Hills.
Getting There By Bike...
It's very easy to get to Claremont Canyon by bike, it's slightly less easy to get to the top of it. The ability to climb Claremont Canyon quickly and comfortably can almost bee seen as a benchmark of a cyclists overall fitness and performance, and it is quite a tough climb. If you feel like trying it out make sure you pack your climbing gears because it's a long, steep way to the top. The Claremont Hotel also sits at the bottom of the canyon and is a great spot to sit and people watch.