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Which Sierra Roads?

All discussion related to transportation to, from and within the Sierra Nevada. Need directions or flight information? Info on road conditions? A ride to the trail head? Can you offer a ride, or do you run a transportation business or shuttle service for the Sierra Nevada? Come on in and post the details!

Re: Which Sierra Roads?

Postby Troutdog 59 » Sun Feb 20, 2011 4:28 pm

Wow, there's so many to choose from and so many are nice. Favorites for me include Kaiser, Tioga, Monitor, Carson (Winter),etc, etc. Hwy 395 ranks high as I lived in So Cal as a kid and that was our avenue to the east side. The Sierra on the west and the Inyo/White Mtns to the east as we drove. The cinder cones and lava flows captivated my imagination as a youngster and certainly played a role in my selecting geology as a major in college Up north, I also like the upper and eastern parts of Ebbets for scenery (not so much for driving). I guess its not really in the Sierra, but Ive always enjoyed the section of Hwy 89 from Mc Cloud all they way to Truckee. Something about that lava country appeals to me every time I'm up that way. To the south the main Kern Canyon above Isabella in the spring for wildflowers. From Roads End, the Sherman Pass road east towards Kennedy Meadows is pretty scenic, but the fire (McNally?) some years back definitely affected the west side of the pass (still photogenic in a different kind of way). A personal favorite near my home in Clovis (Fresno) is a route known as the Sierra Scenic Byway from North Fork to Oakhurst. Some great views along the way (several vista points) of the Middle Fork of the San Joaquin. Also some great views of the peaks to the north including Banner, The Minarets, and Mammoth Mountain. Nice wildflower route early and some pretty good fishing back that way as well.
"Don't accept that what's happening
Is just a case of others' suffering
Or you'll find that you're joining in
The turning away"
D. Gilmour, Pink Floyd

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Re: Which Sierra Roads?

Postby quentinc » Sun Feb 20, 2011 7:42 pm

My favorite is the McGee Creek road because it's only 5 miles long. ;)

Not a big fan of the driving part; I just want to be there already. I used to like the Mineral King road, but living in LA has sensitized me to the terror of some Range Rover rocketing around a blind curve from the other direction, smack in the middle of the road (if you're driving a less expensive vehicle, you are supposed to hurtle yourself onto the shoulder (or ditch) to get out of their way, naturally).

I do like the Horseshoe Meadow Road, partly because it's the closest entrance to the High Sierra for me, and I sort of cut my eye teeth in the Cottonwood Lakes area. Also, although it's full of hairpin turns, you can scout out what's coming well in advance by glancing at the switchbacks above or below you. I've only once come down in the dark though, and that was a bit scary.
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Re: Which Sierra Roads?

Postby Cloudy » Sun Feb 20, 2011 9:01 pm

diesel wrote:Mineral king road is good fun, and definitely scenic.... driving through 20 something miles of hairpin turns was an interesting start to a backpacking trip. I'm not sure it's a drive I'd like to make more than once every couple years though.

While I can't say it's a favorite (although I like it), the payoff when you come around the final bend is rather nice. In my younger and stupider days, for fun we drove back all the way from Mineral King to Highway 198 on a moonlit night with the vehicle headlights off. Didn't meet a single car - or black cow...
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Re: Which Sierra Roads?

Postby texan » Mon Feb 21, 2011 6:56 am

Mineral King is my favorite road in the Sierras. It takes about an hour and half to drive from the Junnction of 198 and is 25 miles long. The views are impressive.

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Re: Which Sierra Roads?

Postby Timberline » Mon Feb 21, 2011 11:07 am

As I read all the previous entries here, nodding my head repeatedly in agreement with everything said and repeating "wow, neat topic" until it became a mantra, I eventually realized no one has mentioned Mormon Emigrant Trail. I'm taking a risk here, 'cause I think its one of the best Sierra roads of its kind (a trans-Sierra link) for several reasons - - although relatively short at about 25 miles, its ridge-top route is direct, its design allows for highway speeds most of the way to help get you closer to the high country where you want to be, its a road loaded with history, and there's almost no traffic! So don't spread it around, OK? I always use this route going west to east if I am heading for anywhere south of Tahoe. Sure, the scenery gets a lot better once you reach its junction with Hwy 88 eastbound, but MET really helps set the stage for the vista payoffs that come later. What can I say? I still get nostalgic for the Carson Pass country after first seeing it 50 years ago.

OK, true, that's only one way to enjoy what Sierra roads have to offer. Kaiser Pass has to be my favorite for the memories it holds. I once nailed a witness tree tag there pointing to a plot I had just surveyed virtually atop the pass. Went back 10 years later and found it still there. In those days, Kaiser seemed like the gateway to Shangri La, also known as Ranger Arne Snyder's High Sierra District on the Sierra NF. Whether on to Lake Edison or Florence Lake, or to explore the back way to overlook Mammoth Pool, now that was a mountain road! :nod:
Let 'er Buck! Back in Oregon again!
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Re: Which Sierra Roads?

Postby mokelumnekid » Mon Feb 21, 2011 2:50 pm

Don't have a favorite, but like W-D enjoy Monitor Pass (west-to-east preferred), tho the bottom section (east side) has been pretty hammered from fires (like from a few years back where that jack-ass who drove a gas truck down the east side and it flipped and burned all long the creek-road. I was on Folger Peak that day and could see the black plume from there). I'm always in a good mood when coming up the Tioga Road from the east into Tuolumne Meadows. I've been over Hwy. 4 (Ebbetts Pass) about a million times and the exposure with no guard rails still makes me nervous (as it does coming down-east- Pacific Grade on Hwy. 4), not especially stunning scenery tho. Dropping east down from Carson Pass into Faith-Hope-Charity Valleys is cool. The road up to Bristlecone Pines (east of Sierra block) is amazing for views back west.

I rarely come from the west side, except for Hwy 4 anymore though. Am somewhat unfamiliar with them in the last 20 years, especially south of 108.
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Re: Which Sierra Roads?

Postby rcymbala » Fri Mar 18, 2011 9:26 pm

TO GET from Visalia to Kings Canyon NP, I thought that California 63 was a nice way to reach California 180. That's the one with a left then a right just before Orange Cove. The stretch from Orange Cove to 180 is scenic. On the way back, I decided to take California 245 instead of 63 ... WOW ... GORGEOUS !!! It was breath taking! It was the pretty part of the north end of 63 times 100 !!! I was driving back to Los Angeles on a Sunday after visiting Sphinx Lakes and what a fantastic treat to be spoiled by tremendous beauty on the drive back !!! After visiting Kings Canyon (e.g., Cedar Grove or Road's End), I drove west on California 180, then hung a left at the sign for California 245. It's easy to miss. The first part curves wildly through some very tall and very thick softwoods with scattered homes hanging on the hillside. Like a rain forest, almost. Then as the elevation drops down, the trees spread out and get shorter. There are some views. Then it changes to farmland with pastures, fences, stone walls and barns. The road is called Badger Road and it passes through quaint little Badger, CA. There's Seven Circles Retreat .org in the "center" of town. Farming activity becomes widespread in rolling hills. It was raining and there was almost nobody out and about. Like driving through a post-card. At even lower elevations you drive for miles through pure oak stands with, at least in Autumn, a carpet of golden grass beneath with cattle grazing. That was dream like. Eventually the hills are treeless and the geology is completely exposed as the road becomes straight. Finally, the citrus stands and other mono crop stuff begins to dominate the flat landscape. I love it when you discover beauty on the drive BACK from SEKI !!! ~ R
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