Adventure Cycling Association Forum

Bicycle Travel => Routes => Topic started by: ulfar on June 10, 2010, 11:05:33 am

Title: california route 49 conditions?
Post by: ulfar on June 10, 2010, 11:05:33 am
Has anyone here ridden california route 49 from Nevada city to Downieville? Or sections of it? Some friends and I are planning a circular route in the sierras and this road is a topic of concern as none of us have ridden it. Appears from google highway views to have limited shoulder and sight distance. Any comments or experiences would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks in advance!

Title: Re: california route 49 conditions?
Post by: CMajernik on June 17, 2010, 06:18:34 pm
Contact the CA state bike/ped coordinator. I think there are local folks spread throughout the state. Here's info on how to reach them:


Ken McGuire, Chief
Bicycle Facilities Unit
Division of Local Assistance, MS-1
California Department of Transportation
PO Box 942874
Sacramento, CA 94274-0001
916-653-2750; Fax 916-653-1905

David Priebe
Bicycle Facilities Unit
Title: Re: california route 49 conditions?
Post by: fargoman on June 28, 2010, 12:53:22 pm
Hi Geoff,

Several weeks ago I completed a tour, which included four days of riding on Hwy. 49.  I was heading southbound, and joined Hwy. 49 roughly 25 miles north of Nevada City, so I can't comment specifically on the section near Downieville, but my experiences on the more southern sections may give you some insights.

Many of the sections I rode did have narrow shoulders and limited sight lines, but that is typical of most of the roads in the Sierra foothills.  The biggest problem I encountered on Hwy. 49 was the high volume of traffic near the larger towns and cities, such as Nevada City, Grass Valley, and especially Auburn.  These towns have become bedroom communities for people working in the greater Sacramento area, and traffic is especially heavy during commute hours.  Maneuvering a loaded touring bike while slowly climbing in heavy traffic was very stressful, and I would not choose to ride Hwy. 49 in those areas again.  However, some parts of the highway were very scenic and enjoyable to ride, as were some side roads that roughly parallel Hwy. 49.  I have ridden east of Downieville, between Truckee and Chester, on Hwy. 89, and found that the riding conditions were quite good, despite relatively narrow shoulders in places, with relatively low traffic volumes except near Truckee.

Good luck with your trip!  Let us know how it turns out.
Title: Re: california route 49 conditions?
Post by: ulfar on July 14, 2010, 10:46:56 am
Thanks for the replies...

we did the trip a few weeks ago and here is my experience. There are no shoulders pretty much anywhere on hwy 49 from Nevada City to Downieville. but it was ok, there was pretty constant traffic from Nevada City to a few miles north of the south Yuba River. But it wasn't scary or uncomfortable and there were many places to pull off the road if we wanted. The few semi trucks that passed were very courteous. After about two hours of riding the traffic mostly disappeared and the riding was great for the next day, 49 is a very scenic road and I recommend the route.

I would add that hwy 20 east of Nevada City would be horrible on a bike, no shoulder, very straight, lots of traffic and people drive very fast. We completed our loop riding the Pioneer trail which parallels hwy 20 and that was great.

Here are some pictures of our ride if anyone is interested

Title: Re: california route 49 conditions?
Post by: sstocking on November 17, 2010, 12:41:11 am
I grew up in Downieville, many years ago and I just want to say thanks for the pictures.  It is truly a beautiful area and your pictures took me back to a few years.  49 can be a really bad road.  Although now a days there are probably no logging trucks, they used to move nor stop for anybody or anything.   Going the YUBA Pass is one of the most spectacular routes you will ever see.  And teh drop on the east side will more than test your brakes and skill ( Bike and Auto )

Thanks again for the pics!!!!!