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Road to Bear Creek Trail

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Road to Bear Creek Trail

Postby maverick » Mon Sep 07, 2009 5:41 pm

Has anyone here drove up to the lake via the 2.9 mile dirt road to the
small lake where the trail starts?(This the trail that meets the Bear Creek/
Bear Creek Cut-Off Trail Junction Trail in .7 miles).
Will a Honda Civic make it to the lake?
It is not the steepness that I am worried about since that does not seem to be
an issue, but the condition of the road may be.



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Re: Road to Bear Creek Trail

Postby copeg » Mon Sep 07, 2009 6:40 pm

Drove that a few years ago. Had 4wd and wouldn't have taken a 2wd low-clearance road up it. Here's a thread that describes it a bit more
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Re: Road to Bear Creek Trail

Postby Cloudy » Tue Sep 08, 2009 8:08 am

If it's he same road I'm thinking of, I took my 85 Subaru up it a number of years back and it was fairly rough. I managed to get through but did get a minor scrape on the bash plate climbing a section of granite near the end. It's probably fairly tame for 4-wheelin' types but was a bit challenging for my Subie.

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Re: Road to Bear Creek Trail

Postby maverick » Tue Sep 08, 2009 8:47 am

Thanks Copeg and Cloudy
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Re: Road to Bear Creek Trail

Postby giantbrookie » Tue Sep 08, 2009 9:14 am

It's been awhile since I drove that road, but I remember parking my dad's Suburban (2WD) near the junction with the Edison Rd. fearing the road was too rough. My dad and I really regretted not driving all the way to the end, which would have been easy with our 2WD 1967 Suburban with moderate clearance. If my memory is correct, there are not any steep passages that really require the traction of 4WD but the road is rocky enough that you would need to use a lot of finesse with a standard passenger car. By that I mean careful tire placement. I did those kinds of things routinely back then with my first car (a 73 Dodge Dart with very little clearance) and then my next two (79 Corolla with little bit more clearance and 87 Celica with negligible clearance) because I was always driving to dirt trailheads in the Sierra and Klamaths with a passenger car. Most of the time, it's simply a matter of putting your left tires on the crown,given that the crown is too high for a passenger car to clear. Other times you have to zig and zag a bit, placing your tires on larger rocks. Actually, when you take a 4WD vehicle on jeep trails you have to think the same way, except you are then doing much more difficult roads.

I should add here that there has been a historical shift toward folks being nicer to their passenger cars as SUVs and pickup trucks seemed to replace passenger cars as the most common standard vehicle. Back in the 70's there weren't nearly as many folks driving jeeps, SUVs and pickup trucks--there weren't near the number of models available. At many of the major trailheads reached by dirt roads you'd find mostly passenger cars. I can remember my dad and I gingerly driving our Suburban up to trailheads and finding mostly passenger cars, including BMWs there. I remember in those days, my dad hadn't quite worked out the clearance and tire placement thing with the 'burb. We lost the muffler two or three times over the years (one of these being on our first trip to the Red Lake trailhead after they closed the direct road--no issues with real 4WD but serious issues with our vehicle).

Bottom line. If it were me, I'd avoid taking a passenger car to the Bear Creek trailhead. If I was a poor college student driving an old Corolla, I'd probably do it.
Last edited by giantbrookie on Tue Sep 08, 2009 9:30 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Since my fishing (etc.) website is still down, you can be distracted by geology stuff at: http://www.fresnostate.edu/csm/ees/facu ... ayshi.html
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Re: Road to Bear Creek Trail

Postby hawkfeather » Tue Sep 08, 2009 4:45 pm

I would not do this in a Honda Civic (we have one--it's 'way too low). I have driven this road various times, in a pickup truck and in a Jeep Wrangler. The truck--and this was years ago--did it ok, but much better if it had weight in the back end. The Wrangler had no problems whatsoever.

There's only one steep section on this road that *may* be difficult, but the difficulty when I did it was due to sand moguls rather than steepness per se. I haven't been up there in a couple of years, so can't report on the present state of this section. The problem for most passenger cars--or vehicles with low clearance--on much of the road is the likelihood of getting stuck or belly-scraped on the stuff you have to drive over. Some people are able to maneuver their way in, as giantbrookie describes, but not all stretches of the road are equally maneuverable!
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Re: Road to Bear Creek Trail

Postby maverick » Tue Sep 08, 2009 5:53 pm

Thanks GB and Hawkfeather
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Re: Road to Bear Creek Trail

Postby SSSdave » Tue Sep 08, 2009 8:13 pm

Ahh the infamous Bear Diversion Dam Road! The main reason there are not several times as many visitors hiking up Bear Creek as there might be haha. Driven that a number of times going back to my first Subu in 1987. Before then had walked it several times like most people without 4wd. One of the worst places to be hiking mid summer at any time but early morning as that whole zone is a shadeless furnace with black lichen covering most of the glacially smoothed granite. Take any advice on that road with a grain of coarse granite sand as it can be more difficult some years than others. Anyone that drives such 4wd dirt roads know how vehicles can eat big holes into uphill grades that quickly become dangerous to low bellied cars. Unless someone before you has "fixed" such impediments, they can be real trouble. A big high wheelbase 4wd will eat up that route quickly. The work is for those without high wheelbase. VW bugs are about the only 2wd vehicles I'd recommend giving it a go as long as there is a pusher along.

Driving that road in the dark was difficult enough in my 94 4wd Subu sedan that even with a spotter at the tough spots working a big flashlight and shovel, we still took about 50 minutes to get through. That same trip the way back in sunlight was much quicker. There are places midway where the slope drops severely off into a nasty ravine right beside the road. In many places it goes over bedrock and the best route for low wheelbasers need to chosen carefully. There are at least three nasty steep grades with the first just a quarter mile up the route. That is why so many cars are usually parked just a little ways from the Edison Road junction. They go that far and decide to turn back. Some that battle that section end up parking at the next available spot beside the road with the unpleasant task of reversing on the way home. Once one goes about 2/3 of the way, the final sections are a relief.

Sunrise pic of two hiking friends and my Subu in the background at the diverson dam slabs in 2004. A good time of day to start hiking.
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