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Old 02-25-08, 08:23 PM   #1
blueskytheory
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sf -> reno least elevation route?

hello,

I'm planning a tour to visit some relatives in Reno. I'll probably leave from SF or Sacramento, but my question is: what is the shortest route over the sierra nevada, in terms of elevation gain? I understand most of the passes are around 9000 feet. This isn't daunting to me if stretched over 2 days, but I am wondering about the amount of up-and-down, which would make it more like 11-12000 or more. My memory of driving over 80 is that its fairly direct in terms of elevation gain; any backroads of a similar nature, ie not much gain/loss but a steady grade?
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Old 02-25-08, 09:08 PM   #2
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I've ridden over Carson Pass (8574 Ft) on the Western Express route which uses the Emigrant Trail for much of its climbing past Placerville. At the end of that trail, you join Highway 88. My recollection is that the Emigrant Trail was all up. Just past the junction at Highway 88 there is a big dip down to Silver Lake and a hard climb back up to Carson Spur. From there, it is an easy incline up to Carson Pass.

I did the ride from SF (Vallejo, really) in 4 days to Carson City (SF - Davis, Davis - Placerville, Placerville - Kirkwood, Kirkwood - Carson City). Remember that Sacramento is essentially at sea level. Placerville is 2000 feet of elevation and a tough day. The Placerville to Kirkwood leg is outrageous, the hardest day I've ever had on a bike.

When I did the route, I left my camping and cooking gear at hope in an attempt to save weight. I'd recommend against that and take an extra day, if need be. All along the Emigrant Trail there is forest where you could easily walk a few feet off the road and camp for the night. If you'd like pictures of this trip, check out my trip journal. According to my notes, the ride from Placerville to Kirkwood, though only 6000 in elevation is a ride of 11,000 of gain. I got those numbers from Delorme's mapping software but have no idea if it is correct.

I have mapped a route from Sacramento to Colfax (on Highway 80) staying off the highway. I don't know if you can ride on Hwy 80. It is not something I'd want to do, even if it was allowed.

Good luck!

Ray

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Old 02-25-08, 10:22 PM   #3
slowjoe66
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One easy way to know for sure is to use an internet mapping site that calculates elevation gain and loss. Here is the one I use: http://www.mapitpronto.com/index.cfm...tion=Home.home

You just follow the directions and try different routes and you will see which has the higher elevation.
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Old 02-25-08, 11:16 PM   #4
blueskytheory
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thanks raybo--i actually had read your diary from another post, and its what made me want to ask this very question! I saw you did 11,000 feet in one day and that just seems insane to me. On my last tour I did a 90 mile day with 5000 feet of gain, and that was "the limit" for me.

I will check out that mapping site and see what it says. My Dad has a huge map collection also so I'm sure I could check there--wanted to see if anyone had any firsthand experience though.
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Old 02-26-08, 02:01 PM   #5
Niles H.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by blueskytheory View Post
hello,

I'm planning a tour to visit some relatives in Reno. I'll probably leave from SF or Sacramento, but my question is: what is the shortest route over the sierra nevada, in terms of elevation gain? I understand most of the passes are around 9000 feet. This isn't daunting to me if stretched over 2 days, but I am wondering about the amount of up-and-down, which would make it more like 11-12000 or more. My memory of driving over 80 is that its fairly direct in terms of elevation gain; any backroads of a similar nature, ie not much gain/loss but a steady grade?
Yuba Pass.

***
If from SF: SF-Vallejo via ferry, then Davis, then Knights Landing, then Yuba City-Marysville, then Hammonton-Smartville Road (skirting Beale AFB), then Pleasant Valley Road to French Corral and North San Juan, then 49 to Downieville, Yuba Pass and Sierra Valley (great hot springs in Sierra Valley).

There are options from there to Reno, depending on whether you want to avoid traffic and ride a scenic route or not.

You can also take Marysville Road to Bullards Bar to Camptonville (instead of skirting Beale).

***
From Sacramento, you can take the Garden Hwy north along the river, which is beautiful riding.
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Old 02-26-08, 02:39 PM   #6
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It's been several years now since I've bicycled out there, but there used to be an annual ride over Donner Summit. You can take frontage roads and/or Placer Hills road to Colfax and farther east, or at least you used to be able to. I think it might have been the Sacramento bicycle club (Sacramento Wheelmen?) that organized the ride, and they should have route maps someplace. I don't recall Donner as being all that steep, but like I said it's been a few years now since I've been out there.

You could also loop around through Grass Valley and Nevada City and get to the summit that way if you want to avoid more of I-80, but I think I'd use the I-80 frontage roads.

Just googled this link up:
http://www.colfaxarea.com/biking.php

Gives route info over Donner.

Last edited by treebound; 02-26-08 at 02:43 PM. Reason: added link
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