Author Topic: Start date for NB Sierra Cascades route.  (Read 4244 times)

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Offline Canoeguy

Start date for NB Sierra Cascades route.
« on: December 20, 2016, 11:05:49 pm »
Hello all.  This New Yorker is considering doing the Sierra Cascades route from South to North beginning in Tecate, CA in the Spring of 2017.  Is there an optimal time frame for the start date?  I have some flexibility in the time.  I am hoping to start this after a Grand Canyon hike for which I've submitted permit applications for March or April availability.  I completed the TransAm in 2015 and I'm simply looking for MORE.  I appreciate any advice.

Offline staehpj1

Re: Start date for NB Sierra Cascades route.
« Reply #1 on: December 21, 2016, 07:50:59 am »
How long is your GC hike?  March or April sound way too early for the SC to me. A May or even June start do not guarantee that Tioga Pass will be open.  This is a difficult trip to plan for decent weather.  It is possible to have freezing temperatures and extreme heat in close proximity to each other.  We had 110+ F (43+ C) heat and freezing temps at night within 48 hours of each other.

The opening of Tioga Pass is key and it varies widely from year to year depending on the snow pack.  The year we rode the southern half of the SC we started on June 4th and services in Yosemite were still not available anywhere except the Valley due to repairs from winter damage.  I think they were finally back to normal around July first, but we managed anyway.

That year it was already brutally hot for most of our ride despite the fairly early start.

My advice is to wait until the last minute to pick a start date and to go as soon as it looks like Tioga pass will be open.

Historic Tioga opening dates:

I think that there is usually a thread on Supertopo as Spring approaches that discusses likely opening dates for any given year:

Offline zzzz

Re: Start date for NB Sierra Cascades route.
« Reply #2 on: December 21, 2016, 12:11:50 pm »
Hi John :

I did this route three years ago, north to south in September so I have no direct experience on your question. I will say that the route is quite tough. And while the the TransAM & the SC routes are quite different,  I'd compare the daily physical effort of the SC to what you hit in eastern Kentucky on your TransAm ride,but every day of the SC route is like that. This is not to scare you off, it's a great route but you want to start it in very good physical condition and that is tough to do when you live in a state with a real winter like NY. This is a round about way of saying starting in early or mid-May might be a good idea even if the passes are open early just to get additional miles in your legs. You don't want to start this ride w the intent of riding yourself into shape.

I'll comment also on the GC. I rode to both the north and south rim 2 years ago and hiked down to the bottom. I wanted to do a rim to rim hike but the logistics of leaving the bike on one side was more than I was able to work out. It is really crowded at the GCNP at the top. And while the crowds dissipate pretty quickly on the way down and you won't hit them again until 1/2 a mile or so from the top, when you're in them, it's ridiculous. It's like going to the mall at this time of year w much better scenery. I say this not to dissuade you from going, it's definitely worth doing but if your killing time in that area, Zion and Bryce and Canyonlands all offer great hikes and are a 1/2 days drive by car from GC or a couple days ride by bike and I enjoyed the hikes in those places as much or more than the GC hike.

Have a great time,


Offline Canoeguy

Re: Start date for NB Sierra Cascades route.
« Reply #3 on: December 23, 2016, 12:59:40 am »
Peter and Pete; Thank you both for the info.  I'm just in the preliminary stages of trip planning.  I do have some considerable leeway regarding a start date.  A later start would allow me to get in better condition.  I'll keep this forum posted and I may have additional questions.  Cheers!  John

Offline MrBent

Re: Start date for NB Sierra Cascades route.
« Reply #4 on: January 15, 2017, 04:24:55 pm »
Be warned that, so far, this year is shaping up to be one of record or nearly record snowfall.  Keep an eye on snow levels and Tioga Pass opening dates.  Could be very late this year.  One thing to hope for is that, I think, every year there is a window when the road is clear but open to cars and you can bike it--what a dream.

Best of luck.


Offline Canoeguy

Re: Start date for NB Sierra Cascades route.
« Reply #5 on: January 17, 2017, 11:10:10 am »
TY, Scott.  I've been following developments from here on Long Island.  I'm glad I asked this question because I simply had no idea what to expect.  I was initially more concerned with possible heat issues than the prospect of snow.  I'll continue to monitor and either delay the trip or consider other rides in the southwest.  Thanks again.  JA

Offline John Nettles

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Re: Start date for NB Sierra Cascades route.
« Reply #6 on: January 17, 2017, 11:24:35 am »
Another thing I would suggest is to avoid CA-94 between Tecate and Otay Lakes Road, especially if Tecate bound.  A group of 4 road this a couple of years ago, mid-week, in early afternoon, and we agreed the road was not at all enjoyable.  In my 35+ years of touring, this was one of the worst.  Narrow, twisty, LOTS of car and truck traffic.  Going from Tecate to Otay would be much better as it is mostly downhill (somewhat steep).  We basically had to take the lane as cars would try to pass us on blind curves, etc.  At least we could hook it up to 30+mph due to the downhill.  Going uphill (5+ miles????) would have sucked big time.  Maybe we hit at a bad time, but it really did suck.

My recommendation is to touch the border at Imperial Beach south of San Diego, ride up Santa Monica then take the Route 66 Route to Pasadena then work your way to the SC route at the intersection of Angeles Creast Highway and Angeles Forest Highway.  Or you could take the Southern Tier Route over to Pine Valley, CA and connect with the SC there. 

Whatever you choose, enjoy the ride!  John