Mathematical Sciences Research Institute

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Many MSRI members find it enjoyable to ride to the institute, or on the many beautiful roads and trails in the vicinity. This page offers some route suggestions, links to helpful bicycling resources. 

Please note that weather conditions, lighting conditions, traffic, road closures, and other unexpected circumstances can make biking in the Berkeley Hills challenging, and cell phone signals can be weak or nonexistent in some areas. Bike at your own risk, and keep safety in mind!

Bicycle Routes to MSRI
If you're in reasonable shape, it doesn't take a superhuman effort to ride up here from the flatlands. Here are various options, with estimates of one-way mileage and cumulative elevation gain:

Lazy Way: Bus Up, Coast Down (2.2 mi.)
Bicycling members can load their bikes on the campus shuttle bus for the ride up from UCB. The "H" (Hill) line bus stop is near the Hearst Mining Circle on campus. 

Easiest Way: Spruce/Grizzly Peak (4.5 mi., 1000')
The most popular and accessible route into the Berkeley hills is up Spruce Street and Grizzly Peak Blvd. Spruce Street runs north-south, one block east of Oxford Street, which borders the west edge of the UCB campus. From the west edge of campus or downtown Berkeley, it is best to follow Oxford or Shattuck for a few blocks north, then to cut over to Spruce on Vine or Rose Streets. This avoids the steep and unnecessary climb over Holy Hill at the start of Spruce Street. Above Rose Street, Spruce climbs somewhat steeply for a couple blocks, then settles into a moderate grade. Follow it 2 miles to the intersection with Grizzly Peak. Go right on Grizzly Peak, and proceed about 2 1/2 miles up a moderate grade which winds in a southeasterly direction to the intersection of Centennial. A right here brings you almost immediately to the MSRI/SSL access road. (An alternative route from the east edge of campus is to take Euclid to Grizzly Peak. The two blocks before and after Cedar, just nort of campus, are quite steep, but after that Euclid is fairly moderate, and has less traffic than Spruce.)

Long, Scenic Way: Old Tunnel Road/Skyline/Grizzly Peak (9 mi., 1380')
This approach is best from South Berkeley/North Oakland. Tunnel Road begins at the top of Ashby Avenue and climbs above Hwy 24 and the Caldecott Tunnel, becoming Skyline Blvd. at the point where the old auto tunnel used to go through the hills. Turn left at the junction with Grizzly Peak and proceed north for a couple miles and descend to the intersection with Claremont Blvd. and Fish Ranch Rd. Go straight through, and climb over Grizzly Peak and descend again to Centennial Road and MSRI - about three miles. This is a long and scenic approach, and involves gaining and losing hundreds of feet in elevation on the way to MSRI. If you've got the time, though, it's a great way to start the day!

Short, Hard Ways: Centennial Drive & various streets north of Lawrence Berkeley Labs(2.2-3.5 mi., 1000')
Riding up Strawberry Canyon on Centennial Drive, which begins behind the football stadium, is really not fun. It's unrelentingly steep, has lots of traffic, and isn't very scenic. Plus, inhaling all of those mysterious LBL emissions when your lungs are working overtime probably negates all the good it's doing you. If you like to fly, it's possible to hit 50 mph on the descent, but watch the curves!

If you prefer a more direct approach from North Berkeley, there are a variety of ways to climb to Grizzly Peak Blvd. I think that the easiest is to take Spruce, then go R on Santa Barbara, R on Cragmont, and L on Shasta. A shorter but steeper connection to Shasta from the campus can be made via Euclid, Buena Vista, and LeRoy. The maze of roads just north of the Lawrence Berkeley Labs offer the most direct route from North Berkeley, but they are quite steep. I'd recommend them only to riders in very good shape, and riding a bike with a third (small) crank ring. Bring a map, too -- there are streets going everywhichway.

Hard (Longer) Way: Claremont Blvd./Grizzly Peak (6 mi., 1280')
Beginning at the intersection with Ashby Ave., just below the Claremont Hotel, this climb is pretty grueling. And you still have to go up and over Grizzly Peak, but it's a few miles shorter than Tunnel Road.

Bicycle links for the East Bay


East Bay Bicycle Coalition (EBBC) is a volunteer organization dedicated to promoting bicycling as an everyday means of transportation and recreation

Grizzly Peak Cyclists is a local riding club with a varied and plentiful schedule of recreational rides for all abilities. Mostly road, some mountain.

Bicycle Trails Council of the East Bay (BTC-EB) is a mountain biking group which organizes rides and supports many projects and activities.

San Francisco Bicycle Coalition is active in bike advocacy over there in the big City.