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Old 05-03-12, 04:57 PM   #1
con40dmitri
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Route from Lake Tahoe through CA?

Hi all,

A friend and I will be trekking from north lake Tahoe heading west towards thr pacific coast highway and eventually end in San diego. Does anyone have any recommendations as to what route is best to take? Is Tahoe national forest bike-friendly or is it better to stick closer to H-80 en route to PCH?

Any tips are much appreciated.
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Old 05-03-12, 05:47 PM   #2
raybo
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Check out the ACA Western Express Route. It goes from south of Tahoe to San Francisco, where you can pick up Hwy 1.

I believe there are some passes between Lake Tahoe and Carson Pass and the roads in and out of Lake Tahoe are busy. I haven't ridden to Lake Tahoe but I have ridden the Western Express from SF to Carson City and back. Going west is definitely the "easier" way to go! Here is my journal of my SF to Carson City tour.
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Old 05-03-12, 09:30 PM   #3
Niles H.
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From North Lake Tahoe you can take bike paths along the Truckee River. There are additional bike paths and routes along parts of the lake. Calling some of the local bike shops would give you good, exact information.

There are some decent routes through the Donner Lake area. You can take Highway 20 to Nevada City if you like. It's a beautiful road without too much traffic, unless you pick the wrong day and time. There is a good bike path along parts of 20, but most of it is downhill and a fast-moving ride on pavement.

If you call or stop by Tour of Nevada City Bike Shop, Duane and others there can give you route info for the next leg.

The more scenic route would be Hammonton-Smartville Road to Marysville to the Garden Highway right along the river, which is beautiful riding.

Then it's Old Sacramento to the bike causeway to Davis.

Then it's some back farm roads to Fairfield, and a bike path/route over the hill into Vallejo. The ferry ride from Vallejo to SF is pure magic.

An alternate route would be to get on the American River Bike Path near Folsom Lake, which is a paved, ~33 mile bike path along the American River between Folsom Lake and Old Sac. It's a very nice ride.

You can get to Folsom Lake from Grass Valley via Dog Bar Road. But the more direct way, from North Tahoe, would be to skip Highway 20, and parallel I80 from Donner to Auburn.

If you have extra time and want to explore and see more of the Northern Sierras, you could take 89 north to Sierra Valley, and then take 49 over Yuba Pass to Downieville. The Sierra Buttes - Gold Lake area is one of the most beautiful in the Sierras, and some have called it the finest cycling area in the entire state [which is a state that has some of the (other) finest cycling areas in the world].

You could also take Henness Pass and Pliocene Ridge Road through Pike and back to 49, which would involve some gravel, but is much more of a Sierra back road approach.

From near Camptonville, you can get onto Marysville Highway (not much traffic during weekday non-commute hours and much of Sunday).

The more direct route is Tahoe-Auburn.

Last edited by Niles H.; 05-03-12 at 09:37 PM.
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Old 05-03-12, 09:31 PM   #4
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i was going suggest 89 to 88 then to jackson, sacramento, davis, martinez, hercules, etc, but i see that the immigrant trail offers what looks like a superior alternative to going through jackson...
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Old 05-03-12, 09:38 PM   #5
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I went up and down Hwy 20 a few times. Great road. For some reason I can't remember the ride through Sacramento to Vallejo. I know I did it. Ferry ride, great idea. I took BART home a few times.
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Old 05-03-12, 11:18 PM   #6
con40dmitri
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Niles H. View Post
.

If you have extra time and want to explore and see more of the Northern Sierras, you could take 89 north to Sierra Valley, and then take 49 over Yuba Pass to Downieville. The Sierra Buttes - Gold Lake area is one of the most beautiful in the Sierras, and some have called it the finest cycling area in the entire state [which is a state that has some of the (other) finest cycling areas in the world].

You could also take Henness Pass and Pliocene Ridge Road through Pike and back to 49, which would involve some gravel, but is much more of a Sierra back road approach.

From near Camptonville, you can get onto Marysville Highway (not much traffic during weekday non-commute hours and much of Sunday).

The more direct route is Tahoe-Auburn.
Thanks for the replies, guys. We do have some time (~17 days to get to SD) so the Gold Lake route sounds awesome! Just wanted to make sure biking through these National Parks was doable. Can't wait and I'll keep y'all posted...
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Old 05-04-12, 04:56 AM   #7
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If you like mountains and don't mind the desert... Take the Sierra Cascades route. You get to see Yosemite and Sequoia that way. Relentless climbing and a lot of desert though.
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Old 05-04-12, 05:09 AM   #8
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Ditto what Niles said about Gold Lakes and the descent in either direction over Yuba Pass. It's funny the way some rides are printed in the brain. I remember descending into Sierra Valley on 49 with some bicycling buddies, airborne a fraction of an inch flying over bumps and somehow a Powerbar popped out of the jersey back pocket and was sliding down the road for a few seconds behind me. In a split second I decided I couldn't stop, I was littering, an animal would get it eventually, and there was a store in the valley. The funny part was that foil/plastic sound shkshkshhskkshhk. No wonder the Wright Brothers got into flying, they wanted a bigger hill.
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Old 05-05-12, 08:42 PM   #9
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Though there's nothing terrible about it, it is harder to stay on route along the Highway 80 corridor, with all the turns and minor roads. However, once down into the Central Valley, it offers a well charted route to the coast.

If you are camping and a cheap sucker like me, look for California State Parks, most of which have highly discounted hike 'n' bike sites in this region. Donner Memorial at Truckee is very nice. They used to have them at Sugar Pine Point, DL Bliss, and Emerald Bay along the Tahoe Shore; I'd call ahead to the park ranger to see if they still have them.

If you are up to some very steep climbing in some stretches, Highway 4 over Ebbetts Pass and Pacific Grade is narrow, winding, and spectacular, with little traffic or services. You would head over Luther Pass on 89 south of Tahoe, head east down on 88, then down south on 89 past Markleeville (Grover Hot Springs SP with HB sites!) and then up over the crest on Hwy 4. There is Calaveras Big Trees SP with HB sites at about the 5000' elevation on the west side of the range, but it's a very tough 60 miles between those two parks.

After that, it's pretty much downhill into the Central Valley, which is not really enjoyable riding, being hot and flat. If you can find a road that follows a river, such as the nice one that follows the Stanislaus from Knight Ferry, there will be at least some shade and water to escape the heat as you head for the coast.

Last edited by stevepusser; 05-05-12 at 08:50 PM.
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