Author Topic: Safest starting point and route from San Francisco through Yosemite  (Read 2444 times)

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Offline scotto1958

I am likely going to briefly join my daughter in late May 2021 for 4 or 5 days on her Canada to Mexico west coast bike tour. Not knowing her exact timing and rendezvous location, I will likely be peeling off, after our ride together, at some point (San Francisco or further south) and head east on my own, hopefully through Yosemite and eventually up to Carson City to fly back home to my home in Vermont. I'm an avid east coast cyclist, both touring and sport riding but not as familiar with traffic/local conditions/best roads in Bay Area and on through the busier cities between the coast and Yosemite. My wife and I cycled cross country years ago, but started in Oregon so any help with Californian local knowledge regarding best routes heading east and/or traffic tips would be awesome! Thanks so much.

Offline HikeBikeCook

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Re: Safest starting point and route from San Francisco through Yosemite
« Reply #1 on: March 30, 2021, 09:50:15 am »
Going East out of Yosemite in May will likely be a challenge with road closures due to snow. Route 120 over Tioga pass is seasonal.  The same with Route 108. You may have to go as far north as Route 50 to cross the Sierras at the time of year. Or all the way south to Bakersfield.
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Offline CMajernik

Re: Safest starting point and route from San Francisco through Yosemite
« Reply #2 on: March 30, 2021, 11:25:12 am »
Google Tioga Pass when you have to make your decision about where to head east. There are several sites that will tell you if it's open. If it isn't, our Western Express section 1 map shows routing from San Francisco to Carson City, using state hwy. 89 over the Sierras. It stays open all year, and is south of US 50.
Carla Majernik
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Adventure Cycling Association
Inspiring people of all ages to travel by bicycle.
800/755-2453, 406/721-1776 x218, 406/721-8754 fax

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Offline jamawani

Re: Safest starting point and route from San Francisco through Yosemite
« Reply #3 on: March 30, 2021, 11:54:29 am »
Ditto on checking Tioga Pass - Hwy 120.
It always opens later than Sonora Pass - Hwy 108.
CalTrans aims to get Sonora open by Memorial Day most years.
But Hwy 108 is a brutal ride up - - and down. Much tougher than Tioga.
Plus, it involves a lengthy detour out of Yosemite and then back up.
You can take a Yarts bus out of Yosemite Valley to Sonora on Hwy 108.
It's worth the fare, if you have to use Hwy 108.

This year the snowpack is below average so Tioga may be open before June 1.
However, YNP tends to delay opening and they still have Covid restrictions.

I strongly rec Hwy 140 into Yosemite from Mariposa.
All the roads into Yosemite have moderate to heavy traffic.
Avoid weekends and try to bike early and, if possible, late.
Late is tougher because camping/lodging is tough to come by.

I have done multiple trips into Yosemite for the Bay Area:

One involves riding out to the Delta, then down empty roads in the Sierra foothills.
May is a lovely time - green turning to blond - not brown yet.
Roughly Rio Vista - Linden - Knights Ferry - Mariposa.
Plus, you get the ferry ride across the bay and the Carquinez Straits Trail.

The other invoves riding down the coast to Santa Cruz and then across the Valley.
Via San Juan Bautista - Panoche - Chowchilla - Mariposa.
Busy along the coast with shoulders. fairly quiet once inland.
White Rock Road has a bridge out - which mean zero traffic, but having to port your bike.

Pic - Sonora Pass on Memorial Day

Offline Oaktownrollaround

Re: Safest starting point and route from San Francisco through Yosemite
« Reply #4 on: April 08, 2021, 05:47:47 pm »
I rode from the Bay Area to Las Vegas in 2005, traveling through Yosemite. We took Tioga Pass in late October and had no problems. This route avoids busy 120 for most of the trip, but there is no avoiding it in the park. In late October it was a serene road. Here’s the route from Dublin/Pleasanton BART Station (bikes are allowed on BART at all times now):

Day 1 Pleasanton BART to Turlock Lake

Miles From
Start Above
0.0 0.0 South on Hopyard Rd
2.0 2.0 Left on Valley Ave
4.4 2.4 Left on Stanley Blvd
9.4 5.0 Continue on First St
11.6 2.2 Right on Southfront
12.6 1.0 Left on Preston - Cross Vasco - Left on Southfront
14.1 1.5 Left on Greenville - Continue on Altamont Pass Rd
22.9 8.8 Right on Grant Line Rd
27.8 4.9 Right on Byron Hwy (J4)
28.3 0.5 Left on Grant Line Rd. (J4)
34.5 6.2 Right on Kasson Rd. (J4)
42.7 8.2 Left on Durham Ferry Rd
42.8 0.1 Right on Kasson Rd (J3)
45.6 2.8 Left on Maze Blvd. (132) Fruitstand
50.7 5.1 Right on Paradise Rd
59.0 8.3 Right on Carpenter Rd (Cross Tuolumne R)
59.7 0.7 Left on Hatch Rd
67.5 7.8 Right on Geer Rd
68.5 1.0 Left on Whitmore Rd
73.5 5.0 Left on Hickman Rd.
75.5 2.0 Hickman (buy food or 2.4 rt to Waterford) then Right (east) on
Lake Rd.
87.0 11.5 Turlock Lake CG

Day 2 Turlock Lake to Hodgdon Meadow

Miles From
Start Above
0.0 0.0 East on Lake Rd.
3.0 3.0 Left on Lake Rd or River Rd (Maps differ on name)
7.5 4.5 Continue (right) on Yosemite Blvd. (132)
32.5 25.0 Coulterville - regroup, continue on Greely Hill Rd
34.5 2.0 Left on Priest Coulterville Rd
43.0 8.5 Right on Hwy 120
47.0 4.0 Groveland - shop at store at 120 and Feretti Rd
47.0 0.0 Take Feretti Rd (less traffic) or Hwy 120 (less hills)
55.0 8.0 Feretti Rd and 120 again - continue on 120
73.0 18.0 Park Entrance
73.1 0.1 Left on Old Big Oak Flat Rd to Hodgdon Meadow
74.1 1.0 Hodgdon Meadow CG

Day 3 Hodgdon Meadow to Yosemite Valley

Miles From
Start Above
0.0 0.0 Go back to 120. You can go up old Big Oak Flat Rd
0.0 0.0 but 2 yrs ago at this time it was littered with deadfall
1.0 1.0 Left on Hwy 120
8.0 7.0 Straight off 120 towards YV (or stop at Crane Flat Store?)
18.0 10.0 Yosemite Valley - follow signs to Upper Pines CG
25.5 7.5 Upper Pines CG - sites 219 and 221

Offline wildtoad

Re: Safest starting point and route from San Francisco through Yosemite
« Reply #5 on: April 20, 2021, 06:26:13 pm »
Hope you are able to make the trip w/ your daughter. You've received some great advice in this thread.

So Spring is rapidly progressing in the High Country of the Central Sierra.  I have a mtn cabin in Upper Hwy 4 area (closest to Ebbetts Pass, which you won't use leaving Yosemite). Did my last ski runs of the season last week at Bear Valley and, indeed, the snow pack is rapidly disappearing. Latest local info is that Caltrans has commenced snow removal ops for both Ebbetts Pass (Hwy 4) and Sonora Pass (Hwy 108), which generally indicates a near-term opening of both.  Don't know about Tioga/ will be later and there is the NPS factor and COVID-related restrictions at the park....but I would expect it to be open by late May.  Check the Park website, etc. for status updates.

There is the possibility of a decent late season snow storm this weekend, but I don't think it will delay the seasonal openings much if at all.  Now, there is always the chance for a late season snow storm during May (we had a big one Memorial Day weekend couple of years ago).  But once the seasonal pass closures are lifted, any subsequent closures are pretty limited/brief. Temps warm quickly after storms in May, and the sun angle is high, so new snow on pavement melts quickly.

Have fun.

Offline scotto1958

Re: Safest starting point and route from San Francisco through Yosemite
« Reply #6 on: April 20, 2021, 06:31:10 pm »
Thanks everyone for all of the awesome and detailed information! First time using this forum and am quickly realizing how valuable it is tapping into such local knowledge! Thanks again!!!