Section 4: Bass Lake to Walker
231 miles 5 hours
This section takes us into Yosemite, one of the nation’s best know and most popular national parks, and thus one of the most crowded. It then takes you over to the east side of the Sierras on High 108, one of the finest motorcycle roads in the state, topping out at 9,623′ Sonora Pass. The day’s end finds us at the small, quaint town of Walker California.
Throughout most of the route, gas is easy to find and lodging and camping abound. While Yosemite Valley is the highlight of this day’s ride, the trip over Sonora Pass on high 108 is both stunningly beautiful and a thrill ride on the bike. It is what I have often referred to as a destination road, one that is so much fun to ride that it’s a destination in itself.
Mile 840.2 Crane Valley road Section 4 begins as we ascend on the Crane Flat road, and in a mile come to a stop sign, where we turn right, still, on Crane Flat Road we descend into the valley, passing through mountains sites and soon arrive at
Mile 847.4 The town of Oakhurst. at the junction with the busy high 41. Oakhurst is the largest town the PCMCR has gone through since Tehachapi, with local eateries, hotels, burger joints, decent-sized grocery stores, and hardware stores. At highway 41 we turn left, and in a few hundred feet turn right on Highway 49 heading north. Highway 49 is a historic highway going through California’s gold country. Named after the 49 gold rush of 1849, We follow it only for a little over thirty miles at this part of our journey, and we will join it again later in this section. This section of highway 49 travels through the foothills, through some smaller towns and ranches on the way to the intersection with Highway 140 at the town of
Mile 873.9 Mariposa Where we turn right. Not as big as Oakhurst, Mariposa’s old west style main street is fun and a nice stopping point for lunch. You’ll find it busy on weekends, and just about anytime during the truest season. Plenty of hotels and eateries here. May want to gas up here. No gas is available in Yosemite valley and while there is a gas station just before the entrance to the park it has always been some of the most expensive gas in the state. In less than a mile we come to a stop sign at the junction where Highway 49 goes off to the left, and descends into and climbs out of a canyon on a road that is often refired to as the western dragon. We continue straight on high 140 toward Yosemite Valley.
Our road climbs a little then begins it’s own decent in the canyon of the Merced River where it travels beside the river mostly on the south side, but about halfway along, you come to a one-way road where it crosses the river for about a mile. This is to bypass what is known as the Furgson Slide, that occurred beginning in April of 2006. The road was permanently closed in May of that year. The road closure was devastating to the local economy, so in August of 2006 bridges were built that crossed the river and allowed one-way traffic, controlled by traffic lights, to proceed. Af this scenic, and what can in the summer, be a hot ride, we come to the entrance to one of the most famous, and most used National parks,
Mile 905.4 Yosemite National Park entrance station. Where we pay the entrance fee or better yet, give them our pass and head up into Yosemite Valley. As one of the most popular national parks, Yosemite has heavy traffic, with tourists county every needle on every tree as they make their way into the park. That is why I decided to not route the PCMCR into the valley, but I am sure that most of you who have not been to the park before are going to want to take a tour. We will go a little under five miles to the junction with
Mile 910.1 Big Oak Flat Road, where we take a hard left-hand turn and begin an uphill ride that takes us out of the valley. Here you find a few turnouts on the left side of the road where cars and motorhomes will undoubtedly be packed into the parking areas to take a photo of the valley. This can get kind of crazy, be careful. In 9.5 miles we arrive at crane flat, where we find a store and gas station and the
Mile 919.6 Junction with Tioga Pass Road, High 120 Our route goes string ahead, where Tioga Pass Road goes to the right and you can decide to take that over the Sierras to Lee Vining and high 395. You can make the case that this is the route I should have taken the PCMCR but there are several reasons I did not. I have written a blog post about that here. We go straight ahead, now on high 120 passing in just over 9 miles the Rush Creek Lodge and in another few miles Buck Creek Lodge and restaurant area in making our way to the
Mile 959.6 Junction with High 49 coming from the south out of Mariposa. We mentioned this road as we went through Mariposa as being what is known as the Western Dragon. We turn right on what is now High 49/120 for the next 8.4 miles, following along the shore of part of Don Pedro reservoir, that stretches its tentacles way back from the dam that impounds that water to the west. We soon arrive at
Mile 968 A Y junction where high 120 forks off to the left and we take high 49 right and soon, after going through a place with a few old buildings called Montazoma (hopefully no revenge will take place) we come to another Y junction at
Mile 971.4 Junction with Highway 108, we go right. We are now on high 108/49 and heading east up into the Sierra again. This a quite a busy road here as we come into the Jamestown-Sonora area. In a little over 7 miles, we pass the turn off where high 49 heads north and pass the town of Sonora where you will find a Wal Mart and most anything you may need in the way of food and lodging, auto parts stores. High 108 travels through lots of little small towns for the next few miles as it makes its way upward in elevation, moving from oak woodland to pine and fir and finally, to just shy of timberline at the top of Sonora Pass. In just about 29 miles from the junction with high 49 and 108, we pass a little forest road called 3N39 on our left. Of no real note except that it is the 1000 mile mark from Mexico. After you pass the little burg of Strawberry the road becomes less crowded and you pass a few campgrounds and a ranger station, a little store with gas, and arrive soon at the turnoff at
Mile 1032.2 Kennedy Meadows Resort. Store campground. I mention this because this is were some of the best riding roads in all the PCMCR begin. The next 24 miles are just a rollercoaster ride with light traffic, great high mountain scenery. You may have the urge to just turn around and ride it again. Once on the pass, there is a steep descent into the Levett Meadows area, a beautiful large meadow with West Walker river running through it. You’ll find campgrounds and places to stop and fish if you’re into that. You’ll soon come to a junction with
Mile 1056 High 395 and 108 junction. Where we turn left and head north on this highway that runs from Mexico to Canada just like the PCMCR. As we ride along, passing a campground on the left and a couple on the right, along with a nice little picnic area on the right on our way to the end of the fourth section of our ride,
Mile 1069.6 town of Walker California. A quaint little town that sits on the edge of a large ag valley at the northern end of the Walker River Canyon with cool old hotels, a local burger joint, and gas. It’s the kind of town we are riding to find. A slice of western American.