Updated: Jan 1
Ride with Pashnit on a 350-mile day ride exploring the Sierra Nevada Foothills from Three Rivers to the Crystal Range Basin near Lake Tahoe.
Roads on this ride: Dry Creek Rd, Highway 245, Millwood Rd, Elwood Rd, Trimmer Springs Rd, Maxon Rd, Auberry/Powerhouse Rd, Highway 49 - The Little Dragon, (skips 120 miles north), Ice House Rd, Wentworth Springs Rd
Up before the sun and on the bike before everyone wakes up for a 350-mile day ride through the Sierra Nevada Foothills starting in Central California's Tulare County at Lake Kaweah (near Three Rivers) and making my way north all the way to Ice House.
Lake Kaweah in the dim light of daybreak. The Kaweah River originates in the Sierra Nevada and drains about 560 sq mi into Lake Kaweah before flowing towards the San Joaquin Valley.
On the western edge of Lake Kaweah is Dry Creek Rd. This goaty 18-mile alternative flows up a deserted canyon and re-joining with Highway 245 at Mountain House. Single lane & remote. Highway 245, parallel to the west, is faster and more twisty, but after many times of riding it, you'll be asking what else do they have round these parts?
This shot below from a previous ride, Highway 245 is super twisty and one of the most curvy roads in the state no one has ever heard of.
The answer to the above: Backroads, we have single lane backroads.
Not a lot of traffic at daybreak.
Dry Creek Rd wiggles on up to Mountain House. And yes, the creek was dry.
Mountain House is little more than a saloon in a hairpin corner along Highway 245.
Not very busy today...
The 2020 Sequoia Complex Fire edged into the Foothills and was stopped along Highway 245. The burn scar crosses the highway in several places.
View across the Sierra Nevada Foothills from Highway 245.
No guard rails anywhere and it's a long way down.
The northern-most 6 miles of Highway 245 nearing Highway 180 climbs rapidly in elevation as the highway pushes past the 5000-foot level and rises into the Sequoia National Forest flowing through the mountain communities of Pinehurst and Etheda Springs.
Kings Canyon & Sequoia National Parks are a few miles away from the northern terminus of Highway 245.
You could easily zip down the hill on Highway 180 into the Central Valley, but who wants that? More twisty roads please.
Millwood Rd isn't long, about 7 miles. But it connects Highway 180 with Dunlap & parallels Highway 180 and the twisty Dunlap Rd. Today, I'm riding it downhill from Hwy 180 to Dunlap.
The views are all southward across the Sierra Foothills.
Millwood Rd is one of these roads that no one has ever heard of. Single lane, deserted, and parallel to a main highway ensures it gets little notice & is easily missed.
How do you find these roads? I have a Benchmark Maps Road Atlas of the state. It's 140 pages of maps just of California, and I go grid square, by grid square, across all 140 pages looking for paved roads I have not ridden wondering how I could incorporate them into a Pashnit Motorcycle Tour. You asked.
But, if you like backroads as much as I do, it's narrow, & wiggly fun. Millwood Rd drops down from Highway 180 and splits into the eastern leg (Todd Eyemann Rd) headed for Cedar Brook (along Highway 245) or the western leg into Dunlap. We're riding the western leg.
The view from Millwood Rd is perfect as the first rays of the sun begin to come over the Sierra Nevada Range & illuminate this valley. On the opposing ridgeline barely visible is a thin line - that's Dunlap Rd from Dunlap to Miramonte, very fun, very twisty road with very good pavement. Dunlap Rd connects to the super-twisty Highway 245.
Sand is everywhere. I always tell my riders: There are no surprises in riding. You should always expect the sand to be there.
The thin line on the opposing ridgeline in the distance is Dunlap Rd.
First rays of the sun break over the Sierra Range on Millwood Rd above Miramonte. I've been doing so many of these pre-dawn rides, this has become a signature photo of these rides.
After an hour of brisk morning temps, it was time for a break.
Millwood Rd has this massive whale-sized rock perfectly balanced above what becomes a waterfall during spring snowmelt. How did this massive rock get here placed so perfectly? Glaciers. During the last Ice Age which ended approximately 10,000 years ago, this rock was likely placed here by massive sheets of ice flowing out of the Sierra Nevada Range.
The times we've stopped here with the Pashnit Tour group along Millwood Rd.
I've been known to move mountains.
During spring snowmelt, this spot produces a small waterfall. The sound is divine.
Today it was dry, and quiet. Note the sand.
Did not see a single other person the entire time along this road.
So long Mr. Whale, until next time, but I must be movin' on.
As the elevation drops, Millwood Rd rolls past bucolic farms surrounded in green meadows. Don't let the spring green fool you, that cacti on the right basks in the hot dry summers.
All this spring green fades to golden brown when summer arrives & the cacti is then happy.
Elwood Rd is one of those hidden gems you'd prefer to keep to yourself. Showing it off to other riders has become a staple of any Central Foothills Pashnit Tour over the last 20+ years. Then a few years back, it was repaved, and we were in love all over again.