To Mile High Overlook and back, on Mammoth Pool Road
I had a restless sleep last night. I have been wanting to ride Mammoth Pool Road for a few weeks, intrigued by the descriptions of the road here. Funny how this road has several names. Mammoth Pool, Minarets, Sierra Vista Scenic Byway, or forest road 81. Take your pick.
Last saturday it was just too cold, so I took a trip on the valley floor where it is a lot warmer than in the Sierras. Today, though, looked good. The forecast was perfect, I studied all the maps of the area and descriptions posted on Pashnit, and couldn't wait to get going.
I was ready to roll at 7 AM, dressed in a sweatshirt with leather jacket to keep the early morning chill off. Departure temperature was about 60 degrees. Call me a California wimp but that's plenty cold for me.
A picture of my garage where I keep my 6 week old Suzuki Boulevard, along with my cages, a BMW 545i and a Range Rover HSE. As you can see I tend to spend a little more on the cars than the motorbikes. Actually this Suzuki is a bargain in my opinion, loads of bike for less than the tax on that Rover.
Although this picture isn't beautiful, it's the only one I took today that shows the ghost flames in my otherwise pearl white bike, if anyone cares
I started out from Clovis on Friant Road, past Friant dam, and on to road 206 west. A right turn onto road 211, a lonely ribbon of nice pavement that winds through scattered ranch estates and rarely sees traffic. I think I saw one other car on this road. So much for California gridlock, I don't know how you coastal CA people do it
There are so many roads like this around Fresno, Madera, and Tulare county. Thanks to Pashnit for opening my eyes
I never even noticed the spraypaint on the pavement until after I got home and looked at the pictures. Anyone know what "USA" with an arrow means ?
Now east on road 200, otherwise known as North Fork Road, a fun ride in and of itself as it winds about 15 miles up to the metropolis of North Fork, followed quickly by South Fork. Then on to Minarets Road. Off to the right is Italian Bar road which will lead you to the geographic center of the state, marked by a stake in the ground. I tried to drive to it on my way back but the road got so rough that I turned around. Another time.
Soon some amazing Sierra Vistas open before me. As I ride up from 2600 feet at the base of the road, I reach Redinger overlook. Beautiful.
Upwards I go, headed towards mile high overlook, about a 30 mile ride from North Fork. The road goes on another 70 miles or so but it will have to wait until another day--I've got a wife and kids at home and can't waste all day out here.
Two different shots of beautiful Mammoth Pool road and my Boulevard...
The pavement is surprisingly good, despite very light traffic. A few frost heaves here and there, and not billiard table smooth but no potholes and very ridable. Watch out for some sand here and there as well as lots of pine needles. There are several interesting things to stop and see as you drive this road, but given my time restraints I head more or less continuously up the road, stopping only to take in the amazing scenery here and there and snap a few shots for my new friends here on Pashnit to look at
I am up to 5000 feet now, the air cool but not uncomfortable, at least not when you have views like this to distract you.
And then it spreads out in front of you. How they ever built this dam so far out in the middle of nowhere in 1950 is simply amazing. It is so beautiful and so surprising in such rugged wilderness, it literally takes my breath away as I come upon it. Mammoth Pool reservoir.
Pull over at Mile High Overlook and soak it all in. I am totally alone, having seen maybe a dozen cars total on the road, and no bikes at all. I can only look in awe, I only wish my pictures could capture the true majesty of the vista.
It's 9:30 AM now, time to get home if I want to make it by noon as I promised my wife. A different route home, taking Power Station Road/Road222/Auberry Road, which is itself worthy of a special trip. Descending down into the San Joaquin valley, it's about 75 degrees now, headed towards 85 or so. The sweatshirt and leather jacket fit nicely in my saddlebags and I sport a t-shirt the rest of the way. I am sporting a new seat for this ride, by the way, by Mustang, which I am finding much more comfortable than the stock seat which caused a bad case of numb butt after an hour or so.
Here's my bike on San Joaquin River Bridge, by the power station.
All in all, today may have been one of the most enjoyable days of biking I've ever had. What a great road. Anyone living within a few hours drive of this hidden gem of a road simply must make time to visit. I can't believe I have lived here for 6 years and never seen it. Pashnit has really opened my eyes to the beauty within this great state of California, and the best way to enjoy it !
EDIT-- I rode the whole loop starting up Beasore Road one week later-- starting right across the street from The Pines Resort on Bass lake. This is the opposite end of Sierra Vista Scenic Byway. In order to stay on pavement through the whole loop, you have to take Grizzly Road off to the right a little ways past Jones store. Grizzly Road is a goat trail, not because the pavement is bad (it's smooth) but because it's one lane wide, and a narrow lane at that. There are spots where it is little more than a wide sidewalk. Expect speeds of about 30 MPH on this road, and it will take you about 30 minutes to cross over and connect to Mammoth Pool Road about 12 miles north of the Mile High Lookout.