California Road Trips - 50 Life-Changing Adventures - 58

CENTRAL CALIFORNIA ROAD TRIP

STA R T
Arnold

2

days

74
miles

FINISH
Markleeville

27

Ebbetts Pass
National
Scenic
Byway
This is an idyllic drive for those who
crave tight switchbacks, tiny hamlets,
and multiple alpine vistas

EB B ETTS PASS

I T ' S N OT T H E FA ST E ST O R H I G H E ST T RA N S - S I E R RA- N E VA DA H I G H WAY, but Ebbetts
Pass could be the range's best-kept secret. Along its path lie two spectacular state parks, a family-friendly
ski resort, the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT), and more volcanic outcrops, glacially carved valleys, and precarious
drop-offs than you can count.
Kick things off in Arnold with a first stop at Calaveras Big Trees State Park. Wander among giant
sequoias on the 1.5-mile North Grove Loop and admire the gnarled Old Bachelor tree and the Siamese
Twins-two sequoias that are joined together. In the more remote South Grove, a trail follows Big Trees
Creek to more gargantuan trees, like the 3,300-year-old Louis Agassiz Tree. Work up an appetite
because your next stop is Dorrington, where the atmospheric Lube Room Saloon-its walls plastered
with antlers, license plates, and Western ephemera-serves Guinness-infused Irish stew.
Flanked by granite outcrops and thick forests, Ebbetts Pass Byway climbs a ridge above the
Stanislaus River Canyon. Stop at Hell's Kitchen Vista and walk a winding path through glacial erratics to
Balancing Rock, where climbers strut their stuff. Turn off at Bear Valley Resort for year-round recreation.
In winter, ski or snow-tube at Mount Reba; in summer, catch a music concert. By November, snow
closes the highway beyond Bear Valley, but spring to fall, push on to beautiful Lake Alpine at 7,320 feet.
Granite slabs, clear water, and sandy beaches invite outdoorsy fun. Pedal a bike on the Lakeshore Trail,
rent a kayak, hike to Inspiration Point, or jump in the lake. Extend your playtime by renting a cabin at
Lake Alpine Resort. The rustic lodge boasts a massive stone fireplace, log-lined bar, and lakeview deck-
the perfect spot for a trout-and-eggs breakfast.
East of Lake Alpine, Ebbetts Pass shrinks to a two-laner with no center line, so slow down and savor.
A narrow asphalt ribbon runs past Cape Horn Vista, where views unfold of the Dardanelles' volcanic
peaks. Four miles farther, the twin Mosquito Lakes attract trout fishermen, campers, and photographers.
Ebbetts Pass Byway winds up to Pacific Grade Summit, then twists through four tight curlicues
to Ebbetts Pass. Stop at this airy 8,732-foot crest to inhale expansive vistas of volcanic peaks and
legendary trail, especially if the wildflowers are blooming. Hiking north, you'll reach Upper Kinney Lake
in three miles. To the south, the PCT climbs into Carson-Iceberg Wilderness, reaching spectacular Noble
Lake in four miles.
From its summit, the byway whips downhill, snaking through 180-degree switchbacks and imposing
volcanic formations. It slips into the long valley carved by Silver Creek, then arrives at the East Fork
Carson River, renowned for trout fishing and whitewater rafting. In Markleeville, immerse yourself in
Grover Hot Springs State Park's 102-degree soaking pool, then enjoy epicurean dining at Stonefly and
dream of doing this trip again-in reverse.

58
VISITCALIFORNIA.COM

PHOTOGRAPH: JACIE M. RIVAS

sweeping valleys. Just east of the pass is Pacific Crest Trail parking. Take time to walk a section of this


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California Road Trips - 50 Life-Changing Adventures

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of California Road Trips - 50 Life-Changing Adventures

Contents
California Road Trips - 50 Life-Changing Adventures - Cover1
California Road Trips - 50 Life-Changing Adventures - Cover2
California Road Trips - 50 Life-Changing Adventures - 1
California Road Trips - 50 Life-Changing Adventures - Contents
California Road Trips - 50 Life-Changing Adventures - 3
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