Ahoy, Riders: My wife and I recently did a portion of the Western Express, and we have to say that some of it seems poorly routed. Our main complaint is with Carson and Green Valley Rds. between Folsom and Pollock Pines especially. The last few miles (heading west) into Folsom have a good shoulder, but the traffic is very heavy. This same heavy traffic exists further up but the shoulder is zero, and one is faced with frequent climbs on the way down. In the drop from 7500 + ft. we gained over 2,000 ft.--ugh. We really hated riding this section, and it was the low point of our tour.
A couple of years ago, we rode this same region of the Western Express, but because Mormon Immigrant Trail was closed due to snow, we had to keep heading down Hwy 88. This turned out very well. A few miles west--virtually all fast downhill--of the Mormon Trail turnoff, we took Shake Ridge Rd. down to Fiddletown. This was fantastic--down, down, down with virtually no annoying climbs and virtually no traffic. From Fiddletown we made our way to Plymouth, took Hwy 16 to Latrobe Rd, which we took north to Folsom. Even on a weekend, this had pretty light traffic. Further out Hwy 16, there's another road that also head's north to Folsom--I forget the name, which also might be good.
I strongly urge Western Express riders to look into this option. Fiddletown and Plymouth are great places and you'll do less climbing overall to get over the Sierras. If you have the option, do your best to tackle the crossing mid-week. We came over on a Sat. the first time and battled a fair amount of tourist traffic. We did it on a Mon./Tues. this time and had a better experience.
One very nice thing we did was camp near the top of Mormon Immigrant Trail. As it was early season, we could melt snow with our stove. We had a very quiet camp in the trees. Riders could still camp in this area and back track to 88 for the remainder of the descent.
Happy, safe riding one and all.