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Northeast CA to coast route

Old 06-30-12, 03:15 PM
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Northeast CA to coast route

I'll be touring down the US in a few weeks, entering CA from highway 395 in OR. I want to join up with the Pacific Coast route and looking for suggestions on when/where to do so. I'm thinking of continuing on until around Lake Tahoe then cutting over to SF area. I've done some searching around and I am aware of the ACA Western Express route (https://www.adventurecycling.org/rout...?pg=detail&s=1) although it is a bit more circuitous than I would like. Looking for something a bit more direct.

The only thing I am sure on is that I want to do 395 in OR, so I'm open to any suggestions from the CA/OR border to beyond the Tahoe area. Thanks!
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Old 06-30-12, 05:41 PM
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I've never done any touring and don't really know the routes up that far north and more inland, but I will say that I would look into riding down through Humboldt, Mendocino, and Sonoma counties. They stretch north from SF to the Oregon border and it is absolutely beautiful country. Sounds like a great ride, have fun.
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Old 07-01-12, 03:24 PM
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If you're willing to put up with hwy395 all the way to Tahoe, I suppose you wouldn't be bothered with the conditions you will encounter by continuing south to hwy120 to come through Yosemite over Tioga Pass. It's been many years since I rode back into the Bay Area from Yosemite, so I won't suggest any specific route (I'll leave that to Prathman, if he chimes in here). I know I always enjoyed going up Old Priest Grade, but prefer to go down the switchbacks on the return westward.

As far as coming across at a more northern point, I can give you some things to avoid. Don't ride on hwy299 west of Redding. It's just too dangerous. I also prefer to avoid hwy128 from hwy101 to hwy1 for the same reason.
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Old 07-01-12, 05:26 PM
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I've never bicycle toured through NE California, but I've toured on my motorcycle and driven through the area many times. I think you should cut over to the coast as quickly as you can. There really isn't anything worthwhile (compared to the coast) between the OR border and Lake Tahoe, but lots along the coast (Redwoods NP, sea side towns, etc.). From Alturas south (Susanville, etc.) in many trips I have never found anything worth sticking around for.

If anything, I'd cut across to Crescent City near the CA/OR border on the coast as quickly as you could, follow the coast down to the SF Bay Area, then go back to 395 and take that south (at least as far as Tioga Pass/120). I'd suggest cutting across from 395 to Crater Lake while still in OR, then keep going east to Grants Pass and then on to Crescent City.

If you are entering CA via 395 I'd suggest going down to Lava Beds NM and then on to Mt. Shasta (partially dirt road, but was in good condition a few years ago) and then heading west for the coast (ending up near Eureka/Arcata) and hit the redwoods south of there (Humboldt Redwoods SP).
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Old 07-01-12, 05:56 PM
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If you're thinking about cutting across the north towards Eureka/Arcata, read this (fairly old but shouldn't be any less true today):

https://forum.grasscity.com/recreatio...unty-like.html

If, for some reason, you decide to randomly explore back roads between August and October -- harvest season -- you take your life in your hands.
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Old 07-02-12, 10:58 AM
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Originally Posted by hamster
If you're thinking about cutting across the north towards Eureka/Arcata, read this (fairly old but shouldn't be any less true today):

https://forum.grasscity.com/recreatio...unty-like.html
Not sure how this would apply to anyone on a road bike cutting over to the coast from 395. The concern is not "back roads" that are through paved roads, but to the types of back roads only accessible by four wheel drive. You might end up on those if you were out in your 4 wheel drive wanting to explore random roads, but not on a bike following a through route on paved roads.
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Old 07-02-12, 02:27 PM
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Originally Posted by blt
Not sure how this would apply to anyone on a road bike cutting over to the coast from 395. The concern is not "back roads" that are through paved roads, but to the types of back roads only accessible by four wheel drive. You might end up on those if you were out in your 4 wheel drive wanting to explore random roads, but not on a bike following a through route on paved roads.
You just have to make sure that you stick to 299 or 36 and you don't go off exploring (or looking for help in an emergency).
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Old 07-02-12, 07:59 PM
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Here's a few route's I whipped up in Google maps based on ideas posted:

Susanville, Chico, Yuba City

This appears to be the most direct route without getting on freeways.

From Truckee, parallel I-80 to Sacramento, various roads/bike paths to Vallejo
Found this route by searching old threads, apart from the Sac > SF part.

Dipping into NV then to Sac via the Mormon Emigrant Trail
Trail looks cool, not sure about going through Reno and Carson City though.

To Eurkea via Bend and Grants Pass
Taking anotherbrian's advice and getting to the coast early. Definitely has appeal since I will get to see Crater Lake and Redwood NP.

Taking 299 to Redding, then 36 to coast
No idea if there is anything interesting here. Just drew this up looking for a quick route to the coast from the NE corner of the state.



So what do you guys think? I am open to all options.


As for the militant backwoods pot growers... I'll have take my chances. Or maybe I can fly a flag like this on my bike.

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Old 07-03-12, 01:17 PM
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Okay, I tried to forward this info once before and the proverbial dog (the one named "BF's Crappy Software") ate it. Let's try it again.

First and foremost - are you really certain about entering California on US-395? From Riley OR (where 395 turns south away from US-20), that road is a whooooooole lot 'o nuthin for something on the order of 100 miles. The "town" of Wagontire? When I went through, it was a single building - a gas station/post office/greasy sppon. And it was closed. Lake Abert? The Abert Rim? Interesting scenery, but still not much in the way of support.

Granted, that was many moons ago, but this is the kind of area that will not have changed, if at all. Oh, and it is likely to be hot - bring lots of water -like at least a half gallon extra (a gallon is better) in bottles in your bags, in addition to the two (or more) water bottles you usually carry.

The good news about that stretch of US-395 is that it has almost no traffic. The bad news about that stretch of US-395 is that it has almost no traffic - if you break down, it could be quite a while before you get help. When I rode through, I provisioned myself to be self-sufficient for 24 hours - meaning camping stuff plus enough food and water on board to last that long. I'd suggest doing the same.

If you are dead-set on 395 for your California point of entry, here is another idea, combining some of what others have suggested:

Take 395 to Alturas, then go west on SR-299. Turn left (south) on SR-89. Follow SR-89 to Truckee. This will take you over Mt Lassen, about 8500 feet up and gorgeous (and one of the all-time great descents on the other side). You will also get to see some of the upper Feather River Canyon (very nice). Plenty of places to camp and get supplies.

From Truckee, continue south on SR-89 through the Lake Tahoe area. This will take you down the west side of the Lake - between the bike path that goes much of the way and the shoulders, you will be in fine shape. You will also get to go through the Emerald Bay area, one of the loveliest parts of Lake Tahoe. The road south of Emerald Bay is narrow and twisty for a few miles, but you will be going down hill through most of that and thus able to defend yourself against the inevitable RV traffic.

SR-89 will join US-50 for a bit. When they split (well signed), turn left to stay on 89. (US 50 over Echo Summit is gorgeous, and the views back to the Lake are breathtaking, but the climb and especially the other side have too many shoulderless stretches and too much traffic.) SR-89 goes over Luther Pass and drops down to a junction with SR-88. Turn west (right) on 88, climb over Carson Pass and Carson Spur, and descend 88 all the way to Jackson. There will be some traffic, but most of it has fair to good shoulders and much less traffic than US-50.

Alternative: From SR-88, turn right on Mormon Emmigrant Trail. This will take you close to Placerville, downhill virtually the entire way. Use back roads to get to Placerville and then on to Sacramento. There is a fenced of bike route across the Yolo Causeway (I-80 between Sacto and Davis). From there, pick a route on back roads to Vallejo, take the ferry to San Francisco. ride along the Embarcadero and the Marina Crissy Field area to the south end of the Golden Gate Bridge and pick up the Coast Route from there. If you do this, take the time to ride across the GG Bridge and back - hey, you're there, you might as well.

Back to Main Suggestion: Pick your way to Tracy (try to stay off the numbered state highways as much as you can - they tend to have lots of fast moving traffic in the flats of the Central Valley.

From Tracy, take Grant Line Road/Altamont Pass Road to Livermore (Altamont parallels I-580 just to the north). Expect headwinds here. You could also go over Patterson Pass Road or Corral Hollow Road - these are significant steep climbs and will likely also have headwinds - they are more rural, though. especially Patterson Pass.

From Livermore, head to Sunol (where SR-84 and I-680 intersect). My preference from here would be to go south on Calaveras Road to Milpitas and then cut through the San Jose area, but the last time I was out that way there was serious construction going on that had the road closed on weekdays. (Any one have any updates on that?) The other alternative is go west from Sunol on SR-84 through Niles Canyon. It's very pretty, but it is a major commute artery with stretches of little or no shoulders. Do not do this stretch during commute time. Niles Canyon empties into Fremont (a massive example of suburban sprawl). You can either head for the Dumbarton Bridge (SR-84), which has a separate fenced off bike/ped lane or head south toward Milpitas. From either Milpitas or the west side of Dumbarton Bridge, there are a number of ways to get you to the coast. You would hit SR-1 as far north as Pescadero and as far south as Castroville.

Whichever route you choose, I hope you have a great trip.
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Old 07-03-12, 03:35 PM
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^Wow just what I was looking for thanks a lot! That route looks great -- I think I like the alternate you proposed better, partly because Google was able to find a route almost entirely on bike paths from Sac to Vallejo, and partly because I've never seen the GG bridge before which feels like a requirement.


I am aware of the barren lower portion of Oregon and would definitely be prepared. I honestly will be more annoyed with 100 miles of urban sprawl and traffic than 100 miles of hot desolation. But out of curiosity, would you have any recommendations if I were to cut over sooner? In my previous post I linked this route which heads west after John Day. I also see the possibility of going to Bend from Burns on route 20 though that seems to be quite a barren stretch as well.

Thanks again for the thoughtful response.
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Old 07-03-12, 04:19 PM
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Where is your ultimate destination? Lassen and Tahoe are nice, but I think the coastal route is nicer, and you'll still end up at the Golden Gate Bridge. If you were going to continue down the coast towards San Luis Obispo, then maybe cutting over at the CA/OR border would be too soon, but there is definitely a much different vibe between the coast north of SF and south of it.

I do think the intersection of Highway 88 and 89 is one of the prettiest places in the Sierra (and I got to ride through it again this last weekend on a big bike ride). Very near there is Blue Lakes Rd with lots of camp sites as well. If going that way, and over Highway 88 as bikingshearer suggests, I'd take the Mormon Emigrant Trail towards Pollock Pines, rather than continue to Jackson. It's very easy to get from there to Davis on dedicated bike trails (American River Bike Trail, then across the causeway along I-80 ... deafening ride along 80 though).
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Old 07-03-12, 05:36 PM
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Originally Posted by anotherbrian
Where is your ultimate destination?
I plan to go all the way to CA/Mexico border. The main reason I'm not beginning on the coast is because I am starting from Idaho and I have heard good things about 395 in Oregon as well as the Sierras.

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Old 07-03-12, 06:10 PM
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Originally Posted by Exurver
I plan to go all the way to CA/Mexico border. The main reason I'm not beginning on the coast is because I am starting from Idaho and I have heard good things about 395 in Oregon as well as the Sierras.

This is a tough decision for me -- either way it will be new to me. The coast definitely seems to be more popular though. And thanks I will look into your suggestion.
395 is fantastic south of Reno/Carson City, at least as far as Lone Pine. South of Lone Pine things get _hot_ (Mojave Desert to the south, Death Valley to the east). North of Reno, 395 is just more of the same of eastern OR, southern ID.

If you're going all the way to the southern border, IMO, staying on the coast for the first half of California, then switching to 395 for the southern, would be the best route. Cutting across as bikingshearer suggests would work well, just do it in the opposite direction. As you went down 395 you could then ride into Yosemite from the east on Tioga Pass. You wouldn't even need to go all the way into Yosemite Valley to get a lot of the YP experience, and just go as far as Tuolumne Meadows and Tenaya Lake. That southern route would also take you past Mammoth and under Mt. Whitney.
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Old 07-03-12, 09:04 PM
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i've been down 395 from burns and it is nice, but not as nice as the coast. and 395 south of Reno is a bif and fast (like 70MPH) road. i don't think it would be very enjoyable.

the oregon coast south of Astoria all the way to Santa Barbera is great. and dispite what other's say, i enjoyed the ACA route through L.A. to San Diego too.

i say get over the the coast as soon as possible and i sincerely hope you don't run into the clouds (and i mean CLOUDS) of mosquitoes around Burns, OR, i encountered about two years ago in July. at first i thought is low lying fog in the ditches along side the road.
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Old 07-04-12, 01:03 AM
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Originally Posted by anotherbrian
395 is fantastic south of Reno/Carson City, at least as far as Lone Pine. South of Lone Pine things get _hot_ (Mojave Desert to the south, Death Valley to the east). North of Reno, 395 is just more of the same of eastern OR, southern ID.

If you're going all the way to the southern border, IMO, staying on the coast for the first half of California, then switching to 395 for the southern, would be the best route. Cutting across as bikingshearer suggests would work well, just do it in the opposite direction. As you went down 395 you could then ride into Yosemite from the east on Tioga Pass. You wouldn't even need to go all the way into Yosemite Valley to get a lot of the YP experience, and just go as far as Tuolumne Meadows and Tenaya Lake. That southern route would also take you past Mammoth and under Mt. Whitney.
My original idea for this trip was actually to take 395 as fart south as possible. But then I did some research, talked to a guy who is knowledgeable with the southern end and decided not to attempt that -- mainly because of the Mojave (will be in mid-August). I've also heard the Central Valley is miserable and to avoid it at all costs.

I do like your idea as well -- going to the coast, riding to bay area then heading into the Sierras. But due to time constraints I don't think that type of zig-zagging will be doable. It would put me in the middle of nowhere when I would need to catch a flight back.

Originally Posted by hueyhoolihan
i've been down 395 from burns and it is nice, but not as nice as the coast. and 395 south of Reno is a bif and fast (like 70MPH) road. i don't think it would be very enjoyable.

the oregon coast south of Astoria all the way to Santa Barbera is great. and dispite what other's say, i enjoyed the ACA route through L.A. to San Diego too.

i say get over the the coast as soon as possible and i sincerely hope you don't run into the clouds (and i mean CLOUDS) of mosquitoes around Burns, OR, i encountered about two years ago in July. at first i thought is low lying fog in the ditches along side the road.
Good info. Mosquitoes didn't even occur to me -- will definitely pick up some anti-bug stuff. Were they annoying while riding or just while off the road?

And I feel I've narrowed myself down to a couple options based on all the advice now: going diagonally across Oregon to hit the coast near the OR-CA border which would allow me too see some cool sights in Oregon, as well as Redwood NP and the north coast of CA, vs taking a route similar to that which bikingshearer suggested which will have me experience southern OR, Lake Tahoe area and some the Sierras. I'll just have to ponder on it for a while.

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Old 07-10-12, 04:42 PM
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[QUOTE=Exurver;14436915 But out of curiosity, would you have any recommendations if I were to cut over sooner? In my previous post I linked this route which heads west after John Day. I also see the possibility of going to Bend from Burns on route 20 though that seems to be quite a barren stretch as well.[/QUOTE]

Sorry for the slow response - life intrudes, and all that.

I have zero experience, bike or car, for most of the route until you hit the coast, but it looks like a good one to me. One advantage of this route is you get to see Crater Lake, which is absolutely gorgeous and well worth seeing.

As far as picking one over the other, I'd say it depends on whether you would rather see more East Oregon desert and the Sierras or more Cascades, Coast Range and coastline. I don't think you would go wrong, scenery-wise, with either route. The average daytime temp in the summer will certainly be a bunch cooler along the coast than in eastern Oregon, the Sierras and across the Central Valley (which will likely be gawd-awful hot). On the coast, you will always have the chance of fog to the point of drippy drizzliness. Summertime on the coast is in September and October - in July and August it is sometimes sunny and glorious, but most often is foggy at least part of the day.

By the way, buy this book [https://www.alibris.com/search/books/...20to%20Mexico] if you haven't already. It's about as good a guide to biking the Pacific Coast as there is. And if you head for the coast north of San Francisco, take the inland route from Point Reyes Station to San Francisco. Highway 1 south of PRS is okay as far as Stinson Beach, but after that there is far too much traffic far too often for my liking. The road itself is twisty, pretty and non-stop up and down, pretty much like most if Hwy 1 north of there. The difference is the volume of traffic, especially on weekends, when half of SF comes out to the beach. Except for sunny weekends, when all of SF comes out to the beach.
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