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Thread: Local Knowledge Please - Hwy 108 or Hwy 4

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  1. #1
    Registered User Mark H's Avatar
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    Local Knowledge Please - Hwy 108 or Hwy 4

    Hi all,

    As part of our journey we are heading from Oakhurst CA. through Yosemite and then north west to Sonora.
    We then want to head up and over the mountains in the direction of Lake Tahoe.

    Not being local to this area I am going by Google Maps and the choices seem to be Hwy 108 or Hwy 4.
    108 seems more mainstream and 4 a little narrower with more twists.

    The problem is that neither will make Lake Tahoe achievable by the end of the day without being on the bikes for more than seven hours.
    We had planned to go 108 and stay at Lake Topaz but Topaz looks like a very barren place aimed at people who want to put their boats in the water and catch fish.
    Hwy 4 looks like the pick but I can't find anywhere to stop near the upper end. Ebbetts Pass would be the limit I think for one day but could push on a bit further if there was a nice place to stop for the night.
    Alternatively we could stay in Angels Camp and then add Hwy 4 to the next days ride to Susanville.

    Does anyone know this area and can recommend 108 or 4 and possibly a nice place to stay?
    Regards

    Mark H
    2012 - R1200R White Aluminium Metallic

  2. #2
    rabid reader dbrick's Avatar
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    If I understand correctly, you'll be staying in Oakhurst, want to take a look at Yosemite, then you're going north to Susanville, with one night's stop somewhere between the two. Is that right?

    108 and 4 are both lovely roads, but after Yosemite going back down the hill to 49, then north to Sonora, seems a bit of a detour. 108 up from Sonora is not very compelling until after Kennedy Meadows, after which it's quite lovely on both sides of the pass. Once you get to 395, 'though, you have to either go south 20 miles to Bridgeprt or north to find lodging: going north, first Topaz Lake, then Minden/Gardnerville, or for a back-in-the-mountains change to Woodfords or Markleevile.

    I'd suggest you consider crossing the Sierra via 120, the Tioga Pass. it's within Yosemite, and the views on both sides of the pass are IMO better than 108 and 4. Because it's in the park, there's more traffic, and a lower speed limit. You have lots more lodging choices on the east as well: Lee Vining is at the 120/395 intersection, there's a great interpretive center overlooking Mono Lake. Even better, I think, is Bridgeport, north on 395 just past the Conway Summit. You'll find lodging and food in both places. 395 remains quite scenic until around Topaz Lake; north of that, the surroundings become even drier.

    When will you do this? All these trans-Sierra passes close when the snow comes; the Conway Summit and 88 are plowed, and kept open (save when the plow crews are overwhelmed), but motorcycling over the Sierra crest or the 395 passes in winter is best done as a last-minute sprint, over a known open road, when you know the weather's going to be OK during your transit.
    David Brick
    Santa Cruz CA
    2007 R1200R

  3. #3
    Registered User Mark H's Avatar
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    David,

    Thanks for the input - I had originally looked at 120 and indeed we are planning to go up 120 as far as Tenaya Lake but then were going to double back because 395 looked a bit dull.

    We are going to be there on the 29th May next year (assuming our dates stay as I expect).

    I'll revisit the idea of 395 and also check out Lee Vining and Bridgeport for accommodation.
    Regards

    Mark H
    2012 - R1200R White Aluminium Metallic

  4. #4
    rabid reader dbrick's Avatar
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    Mark,

    I apologize; I read your first post carelessly, and skipped right over the mention of "Lake Tahoe," instead seeing "Topaz Lake" again.
    Do you intend a night in Oakhurst, a night at Lake Tahoe, then a night at Susanville?

    If you ride up 120 as far as Tenaya Lake, I'd continue to the east; Lee Vining Canyon (the descent from the Tioga Pass summit down to Mono Lake) is gorgeous. Further north on 395, going west on 89 over Monitor Pass, through Markleeville, up the Carson River Canyon and over the Luther Pass to South Lake Tahoe is also a lovely route.

    Traveling at the end of next May, these passes we're talking about should be open, but "should" isn't absolute. Here's some CalTrans historical data: http://www.dot.ca.gov/hq/roadinfo/clsdlst.htm
    David Brick
    Santa Cruz CA
    2007 R1200R

  5. #5
    Registered User Mark H's Avatar
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    Thanks David.

    i'll map it out and see how it all fits. Finding that overnight stop in this area without having to ride for 7 or 8 hours is challenging.
    As I say, Topaz didn't look very inviting but it may be the best option.
    Regards

    Mark H
    2012 - R1200R White Aluminium Metallic

  6. #6
    rabid reader dbrick's Avatar
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    I forgot Walker, Calif, at the north (lower) end of the Carson River Canyon. There are several motels there. Carson's real small, but nestled closer to the mountains which gives a better sense of place than Topaz.
    David Brick
    Santa Cruz CA
    2007 R1200R

  7. #7
    Just me rad's Avatar
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    David and I both, like most Californians from the Bay Area, have done all those roads countless times. There are really no bad routes over or along the Sierras

    My spin on your plans: If you are all the way up 120 to Tenaya Lake you would be missing out on a stunning pass by not finishing the 120 run over Tioga Pass. You would then have time to see a couple of outstanding features of California. One is Mono Lake with its Tufa towers and the other is Bodie historic ghost town. Bodie is not a tourist trap, there is nothing there to buy, it is a very complete ghost town preserved and cared for by the State Park Service. You could also eat at the best food place anywhere around those parts, the Whoa Nellie Deli located in the Tioga gas mart at the 120 395 intersection. Mmmmm fish tacos.

    Their fish tacos


    Bodie


    Mono Lake

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