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Ebbetts Pass Scenic Byway

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Basics
Location:
Eastern California just north of Yosemite National Park
Surface:
Paved
Length:
61 miles (98 km)
Time:
2 hours to drive or 5 hours to explore the Byway
Season:
Sections are closed during the winter, best seen summer through fall

Description

Ebbetts Pass Scenic Byway may have scenery to its credit but it also provides access to a range of outdoor activities. Sparkling Sierra lakes, giant sequoia redwoods, and panoramic alpine vistas greet the adventurous traveler at every turn and summit.

Ebbetts Pass Scenic Byway begins along HWY 4 in Arnold, 100 miles east of Sacramento. Travel east approximately 56 miles on HWY 4 and then take HWY 89. Continue north approximately 4 miles on HWY 89 to the town of Markleeville and the end of the drive.

With two state parks, Stanislaus National Forest, and various designated wilderness areas set along this byway, expect plenty of wild landscapes and rural places to play. Bear Valley Mountain Resort is along the way offering cross-country and downhill skiing during the winter and hiking or biking during the summer and fall. Carson River is great for kayakers and fly-fishing in its deep pools. Ebbetts Pass also offers abundant rock climbing on solid granite. Backpacking and solitude are easy to come by on the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail which runs from Mexico to Canada and crosses the byway.

Points of Interest Along The Way

Bear Valley (CA)

Bear Valley is home to one of the largest groomed cross country ski trail systems in the United States - Bear Valley Cross Country; the closest major ski resort to the Bay Area with 11 lifts serving 1,280 acres and 60trails - Bear Valley Mountain Resort; 35 miles of groomed snowmobile trails, and two sno-parks - Spicer Reservoir and Lake Alpine. In summer,skis turn to mountain bikes and hiking shoes. Site of the annual Bear Valley Music Festival.

Directions

From the byway, turn into Bear Valley Village. Bear Valley Cross Country is located immediately to the left by the gas station.

Bear Valley Mountain Resort (CA)

With 1280 acres of varied terrain, over 67 runs, 1900 vertical feet, and 30 feet of average annual snowfall, skiers and snowboarders of all ability levels find Bear Valley Mountain Resort a great winter destination. Visitors will also find 4 terrain parks, an in-ground half-pipe and free guided tours on weekends.

Calaveras Big Trees State Park (CA)

Few natural wonders rival the majestic beauty of the Giant Sequoias. Considered to be the oldest tourist attraction in California, Calaveras Big Trees State Park protects two magnificent groves of trees believed to be up to 2,000 years old. Open year-round, the park encompasses over 6,000 acres including the raging Stanislaus River and rambling Beaver Creek and offers over 120 campsites, picnic areas, miles of hiking trails, and a friendly visitor center.

Cape Horn Vista (CA)

One of the finest peak experiences on Ebbetts Pass is cresting to the Cape Horn Vista, with a 270 degree view of the Carson-Iceberg Wilderness, the signature Dardanelle Range featuring the "Sleeping Lion" and the "Elephant," lava flows, and wind-swept junipers. The view literally takes one's breath away and is an exceptional vantage point for winter sports enthusiasts, as well.

Carson River (CA)

The East Fork of the Carson River winds through steep canyons to gravel flats. The area is a favorite fishing location, with secret deep spots known only to those who venture to find them. Travelers can park and seek respite in the area's tranquil open banks and rugged landscape.

The East Fork offers rafters and kayakers a white water challenge found nowhere else along the Eastern Sierra, with the best launching site at Hangman's Bridge, three miles south of Markleeville.

Grover Hot Springs State Park (CA)

Grover Hot Springs State Park is open year round.There is a campground and picnic area, but the main focus is the hot mineral pools!

Directions

From Markleeville, turn left onto Hot Springs, Road and travel three miles to Grover Hot Springs State Park.

Highland Lakes (CA)

Highland Lakes is one of the most scenic locations accessed by a dirt road from the Byway. Two large high alpine lakes form the headwaters for two major watersheds - the Stanislaus and the Mokelumne. Rising as a giant behind the lakes is the highest peak on the pass - Highland Peak at 10,934 feet. A diverse network of picturesque trails are accessed from the lakes, and prolific wildflowers paint the area in brilliant colors. All campgrounds are open in summer.

Directions

Take the Highland Lake turnoff and drive 5 miles to the lakes. Two and four-wheel drive vehicles OK.

Lake Alpine (CA)

Lake Alpine is a sizeable Sierra lake, featuring granite islands surrounded by high peaks and deep forests. It features a paved bicycle and walking trail, making access enjoyable for all abilities. The area houses a rustic mountain lodge with restaurant and cabins, five campgrounds, and picnic sites. Fishing, kayaking, canoeing and swimming are enjoyed during the summer months. Extensive site access improvements were made by the US Forest Service.

Markleeville (CA)

This historic quaint and charming town enjoys the signature east side Sierran backdrop amid Americana small town architecture. The county seat for Alpine County, Markleeville is home to a peaceful campground right on the Carson River and an intimate townsite featuring unique boutiques, restaurants and upgraded motel. Just a short drive brings weary travelers to Grover Hot Springs State Park and its relaxing natural waters.

Mosquito Lakes (CA)

One of the most scenic and accessible high alpine lakes in the region, Mosquito Lakes offer two sections of clear, shallow spring water creating extraordinary reflections of the granite peaks, two rustic cabins, and its natural forest setting. This location is a favorite of photographers and fishing enthusiasts and is located along the road.

Location:
Eastern California just north of Yosemite National Park
Surface:
Paved
Length:
61 miles (98 km)
Time:
2 hours to drive or 5 hours to explore the Byway
Main Roads:
CA-4 E
Season:
Sections are closed during the winter, best seen summer through fall
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