Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Steepest hill in Four Corners

To follow up on my post last week about the elevations of Four Corners.  As that article said, Four Corners is a pretty hilly place.

The hills contribute to the character of our neighborhoods.  Finding a jogging route or a bike route without hills is basically impossible.  However, the hills make for some cool perspectives and interesting home situations that you won't find in many other places in the region.  Not many neighborhoods around us have so many hills, or such large hills.  But why are there so many large hills in Four Corners, and how tall/steep are they?  

So what is the biggest hill in Four Corners?  This title could be debated, as there are many short steep hills that could claim it, as well as long gradual ones that are impressive even though they are less steep.  After looking at various hills around Four Corners and doing some rough geometric calculations, I have determined the steepest and most impressive hill in the area to be the following:  Brookmoor Drive between Williamsburg Drive and Penwood Road.

 
Looking up Brookmoor from Williamsburg.  Image from Google Stretview.
  


This block starts at an elevation of 282 feet at the intersection of Brookmoor and Williamburg Drive.  It ends at an elevation of 330 feet, about 135 yards away at the intersection of Brookmoor and Penwood Road.  This means that the street rises nearly 50 feet in less than 400 feet of horizontal distance.  This means the grade of the hill is approximately 12 percent.  A 12% grade may not seem that steep compared to a staircase, but for wheeled vehicles, that is a very steep climb. 

For some perspective, know this: the maximum grade allowed on an interstate anywhere (even in the Rockies and Appalachians) is 6%.  Even at this seemingly low grade, large trucks have trouble with the hill, hence the need for climbing lanes on mountainous highways.  The steepest grade a train can handle is 3 or 4%.  At a 3% grade, freight trains need extra locomotives to both push and pull the train simultaneously; otherwise the grade cannot be overcome.  For another example; the steepest grade on any part of the Tour de France (a bike race known for having stages in the Alps with insane hills) in recent years was 14%, only 2% steeper than the Brookmoor hill.


I may be biased in this determination; as this hill is around the corner from my house, but after looking at a bunch of other hills in the four neighborhoods and doing some calculations, I have yet to find one that is as steep as this.  Crestmoor Drive and Eastwood Avenue both have some impressive hills, which are longer than this one, but they are not as steep.     

So if your feeling ambitious, ride your bike up this hill.  If you're felling super ambitious, go ahead and run up this hill.  

If anyone has stories or further information on this hill, feel free to share.  

1 comment:

  1. I think Sutherland Road just south of Southwood may have an even steeper grade.

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