California 4 enters Calaveras County, which is perhaps best known for the "Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County" characterized by well-known writer Mark Twain. Home to 40,554 people as of the 2000 Census, Calaveras County is situated in California's Gold Country, with California 49/Mother Lode (Golden Chain) Highway passing through it. "Calaveras" is Spanish for skulls, and the county's seat is located in San Andreas (at junction of California 12 and California 49). Photo taken 07/18/09.
Ascending Gopher Ridge and leaving the Central Valley behind, eastbound California 4 approaches Telegraph Road, which is an old alignment of California 4 that runs parallel to California 4 across the ridge (on a slightly longer course). Turn right to follow Telegraph Road east along the old alignment. Photo taken 07/18/09.
The newer alignment of California 4 ascends Gopher Ridge on a straight, up-hill alignment. Photo taken 07/18/09.
Passing through Gopher Ridge, Boucher Mountain (elevation 1,548 feet above sea level) is visible along eastbound California 4. For the first time, California 4 sees a landscape dotted with live oak trees and golden grass. This look is typical of the lower Sierra Nevada foothills. California 4 begins to gain significant elevation now and will continue to gain as it ascends toward distant Ebbetts Pass on top of the tall mountain chain. Photos taken 07/18/09.
California 4 gains more elevation as part of Gopher Ridge and passes by the other end of the Telegraph Road old alignment. A Vista Point at the top of Gopher Ridge provides motorists with a stopping place with a view south toward Tulloch Reservoir and east toward Copperopolis. Photos taken 07/18/09.
The newer California 4 alignment almost functions as a two-lane expressway, with limited access points for cross traffic, ample shoulders, and sweeping curves. This segment appears more modern than the one seen near Milton Road in Stanislaus County. Photos taken 07/18/09.
Descending from Gopher Ridge, California 4 next approaches Horseshoe Drive. Photos taken 07/18/09.
The Bear Mountains come into view as California 4 has a relatively straight and flat segment for the next several miles. Photos taken 07/18/09.
Approaching the unincorpoated community of Copperopolis, eastbound California 4 approaches Hodson Road north and Olive Ranch Road south to Little John Road south and Reeds Turnpike east to Calaveras County Route E-15/O'Byrnes Ferry Road south to Tulloch Reservoir and Yosemite Junction (to California 108-120). Copperopolis was home to 2,363 as of the 2000 Census and sits at an elevation of 997 feet above sea level (quite a bit higher than Farmington in the Central Valley). As its name implies, Copperopolis owes its founding to copper mining, unlike gold mining seen along the Mother Lode east of here. Photos taken 07/18/09.
Eastbound California 4 approaches Calaveras County Route E-15/O'Byrnes Ferry Road south and Rock Creek Road north. The county shield was omitted from the advance signage, and the only county route shield still in place on E-15 as of 2003 was the first northbound reassurance shield after passing the Tuolumne-Calaveras County Line. Use E-15/O'Byrnes Ferry Road south to Tulloch Reservoir and Yosemite Junction; E-15 is the best route to Jamestown and Sonora from eastbound California 4. Rock Creek Road, meanwhile, travels north from here to Felix and Salt Springs Valley Reservoir. This intersection marks the northern terminus of E-15. Photos taken 07/18/09.
After the E-15 intersection, a California 4 east reassurance shield is posted. Angels Camp, the next community of significance along California 4, is approximately 13 miles east of here. From here, California 4 ascends the Bear Mountains, starting in a northeasterly direction. Photos taken 07/18/09.
Due to the narrow, winding segments of California 4 that lay ahead, trucks are not recommended on the segment of California 4 from here to Angels Camp. A pair of signs warn of the changing conditions on California 4 as we proceed east. Photos taken 07/18/09.
Continuing northeast on California 4 through the Bear Mountains (part of the Sierra Nevada foothills), the spacious shoulders give way to minimal or no shoulders. Photos taken 07/18/09.
The two-lane highway feels nothing like the massive freeway that traveled east out of Concord in the Bay Area. California 4 sees some significantly winding, narrow road through here. Use Hunt Road west to Red House Ranch and Milton. Photos taken 07/18/09.
A California 4 east reassurance shield is posted after the Hunt Road intersection. The next intersection is with Pool Station Road north to San Andreas; this intersection is located within a series of 25-miles-per-hour turns. Continue Photos taken 07/18/09.
California 4 resumes its journey east after Pool Station Road, and the state route sees more trees along its path than any other section thus far. Some development is located near Stallion Way. Photos taken 07/18/09.
The highway again widens out to include shoulders and seemingly wider travel lanes. Photos taken 07/18/09.
Soon thereafter, eastbound California 4 approaches Angel Oaks Drive and enters the city of Angels Camp. Founded with the Gold Rush in 1848 (and incorporated on January 24, 1912), Angels Camp had a population of 3,004 as of the 2000 Census and sits at an elevation of 1,378 feet above sea level. The historic downtown is known for its shopping and restaurants. Angels Camp serves as a base for day or weekend forays into the scenic foothills, including Calaveras Big Trees State Park near Arnold off California 4. Photos taken 07/18/09.
Eastbound California 4 meets California 49/Main Street in Angels Camp. At the time this photo was taken, the new California 4 bypass of Angels Camp had yet to open ... but it was scheduled to open only a few days later, on July 22, 2009! So next time we come, we'll get pictures of the new 2.4-mile bypass route. Maps of the new bypass route are available on the Calaveras Council of Governments webpage. California 49, which follows the Mother Lode through the Sierra Nevada foothills, travels south to Sonora and north to San Andreas (county seat). Photos taken 07/18/09.
Prior to the construction of the new Angels Camp Bypass, this view shows how eastbound California 4 approached California 49 in northern Angels Camp. Signage at the time pointed to the former overlap of California 4 east and California 49 south into downtown Angels Camp. First photo taken by Trevor Carrier, Summer 2002; second photo taken 01/18/03.
California 4/Angels Camp Bypass east
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California 49 south and Former California 4 east
An aging historical marker sign is posted shortly thereafter along California 49 south (and former California 4 east). Due to its historical role in the California Gold Rush of 1849, several buildings and structures in Angels Camp date to the 19th century. Photo taken 07/18/09.
Southbound California 49 approaches Murphys Grade Road east to Murphys. While the guide signs point for through traffic to continue to follow (former) California 4 to Murphys, it is true that Murphys Grade Road also leads to Murphys. Photo taken 07/18/09.
California 49/Main Street continues south toward downtown Angels Camp. Photos taken 07/18/09.
Utica Park, located on the east side of California 49 (former California 4) is accessible by a right turn off southbound Main Street. Photos taken 07/18/09.
Southbound California 49 enters and passes through downtown Angels Camp. Imprinted in the pavement at the intersection of Hardscrabble Street (west) and Raspberry Lane (east) is a jumping frog, for which Angels Camp is known worldwide. The frog was a bit faded when we approached the area. Photos taken 07/18/09.
Southbound California 49/Main Street meets Old Highway 4/Vallecito Road and Finnigan Lane. Another jumping frog is imprinted in the asphalt at this intersection. Aim right for the continuation of California 49 south to Sonora, Jamestown, and points south. Turn left to connect to California 4 east to Arnold, Murphys, and Big Trees State Park. Photos taken 07/18/09.
At this intersection in Angels Camp, California 49 splits right (south) and former California 4 turns left (east). Eastbound California 4 winds its way to Ebbetts Pass, with Vallecito, Murphys, Calaveras Big Trees State Park, Bear Valley Ski Area (Junction California 207), and Lake Alpine along the way. California 49 continues south to Columbia and Sonora in Tuolumne County. Photo taken 01/19/03.
Old California 4/Vallecito Road east
After leaving California 49, eastbound Old California 4 crosses Angels Creek on this 1946 bridge. Old, white bridge railing and a date stamp help identify the age of the bridge. Photos taken 07/18/09.
Leaving downtown Angels Camp, Old Highway 4/Vallecito Road has two lanes that wend its way back to the Angels Camp Bypass. Photos taken 07/18/09.
In the summer, the Gold Country grasses die off, leaving the hills a yellow-golden hue in contrast to the greenery of the live oak trees and pine trees. Photo taken 07/18/09.
During the winter, Ebbetts Pass is closed, and advisory signs such as this one are placed along eastbound to warn motorists. Photos taken 07/18/09 and 01/18/03.
Due to the winding, one and a half lane segment of California 4 past Lake Alpine, over Ebbetts Pass and thence east to near California 89, trucks and vehicles with trailers are not advised on California 4 east of Lake Alpine. A better route over the mountains is afforded via California 88 over Carson Pass (north of here). Photo taken 07/18/09.
This eastbound California 4 mileage sign shows the distance to Murphys, a small Sierra foothill community. Big Trees State Park, a few miles further along California 4, features tall redwood trees. Markleeville is located on the east side of Ebbetts Pass, but it is not accessible via California 4 during the winter since the highway is closed over the pass. Photo taken 01/18/03.
After the mileage sign, Old Highway 4/Vallecito Road approaches the junction with the Angels Camp Bypass (California 4). With the opening of the bypass, the old road was closed for a time until the highway could be realigned into a proper intersection. Photos taken 07/18/09.
California 4/Vallecito Road east
After Vallecito Road and Angels Camp Bypass merge together, eastbound California 4 resumes its easterly journey toward the unincorporated communities of Vallecito and Murphys. Motorists along Murphys Grade Road will avoid Vallecito, while California 4 passes through the small community. The highway continues to gain elevation as we wend through the Sierra Nevada Foothills in Gold Country. Photos taken 07/18/09.
Eastbound California 4/Vallecito Road approaches Six Mile Road east. Turn left to follow Six Mile Road as another alternate route to Murphys. Photos taken 07/18/09.
At the bottom of the hill, eastbound California 4/Vallecito Road also meets Ponderosa Road and Golden Creek Drive, then proceeds east. Golden Creek Drive is an old alignment of California 4. Photos taken 07/18/09.
As California 4/Vallecito Road proceeds east toward Vallecito, the next right connects to Red Hill Road southwest to California 49 near Carson Hill, while the left turn offers a bypass of Vallecito. Photos taken 07/18/09.
California 4/Vallecito Road first meets Angels Road south to downtown Vallecito and Vallecito State Historic Landmark, and then meets Main Street south (also to downtown Vallecito). A set of power lines (likely either Pacific Gas & Electric or Northern California Power Agency) cross over California 4 at this point. The state highway now turns a bit to the northeast. Photos taken 07/18/09.
Eastbound California 4 meets Calaveras County Route E-18 at this intersection. Calaveras County Route E-18 travels south to Moaning Cavern, crosses over the Stanislaus River to enter Tuolumne County, and then travels south toward Columbia and Columbia State Historic Park. Tuolumne County Route E-18 then proceeds south to end at California 49 just north of Sonora. Photos taken 07/18/09 and 01/18/03.
California 4/Vallecito Road continues east from Vallecito to Douglas Flat, passing Batten Road along the way. Photos taken 07/18/09.
Eastbound California 4/Vallecito Road enters the unincorporated community of Douglas Flat at the intersection with Main Street. Turn left on Main Street (Old Highway 4) into town. Photos taken 07/18/09.
Passing through Douglas Flat, a few businesses line the northwest side of the highway. Eastbound California 4/Vallecito Road approaches Ansil Davis Road and Green Meadow Drive. The highway reaches 2,000 feet above sea level, continuing its journey higher toward distant Ebbetts Pass. Photos taken 07/18/09.
California 4 east
Continuing northeast, California 4 enters the unincorporated community of Murphys, the "Queen of the Sierra." Murphys had a population of 2,061 people as of the 2000 Census and base for tourists visiting Moaning Caverns, Mercer Caverns, the historic Murphys Hotel, Big Trees State Park, wine tasting rooms, and gold rush era historical areas. Photo taken 07/18/09.
Eastbound California 4 meets Pennsylvania Gulch Road (right turn). Continue straight to Main Street west into downtown Murphys. Photo taken 07/18/09.
The next major intersection along eastbound California 4 is with Main Street west to downtown Murphys. Stevenot Winery, Murphys State Historic Landmark, and Murphys Hotel are located west of here on Main Street. Upon passing through downtown, Main Street changes into Murphys Grade Road, which loops west back to Angels Camp. Photo taken 07/18/09.
All motorist services are located along Main Street in Murphys. To Mercer Caverns, follow Main Street west to San Domingo Road (Sheep Ranch Road) north to the caverns. Photo taken 07/18/09.
The next traffic signal along California 4 east is with Tom Bell Drive east and Big Trees Road south. To Big Trees State Park, continue northeast on California 4. (The button copy guide sign in the second photo actually faces northbound traffic Big Trees Road.) Photos taken 07/18/09.
Leaving Murphys, a changeable message sign advises of weather and traffic conditions on California 4 leading northeast toward Arnold, Big Trees State Park, Bear Valley/Mt. Reba Ski Area, Lake Alpine, and Ebbetts Pass. Photo taken 07/18/09.
Another Ebbetts Pass open/closed sign is posted at the intersection with Apple Blossom Drive. Photo taken 07/18/09.
This mileage sign along California 4 east provides the distance to Avery (eight miles), Big Trees State Park (14 miles), and Junction California 207/Bear Valley-Mt. Reba Ski Area (36 miles). Photo taken 07/18/09.
Eastbound California 4 approaches Utica Powerhouse Road (old Highway 4) east. Photo taken 07/18/09.
California 4 proceeds northeast between Murphys and Avery and continues to gain elevation. As annual precipitation increases, the trees get taller. Photos taken 07/18/09.
California 4/Ebbetts Pass Highway east
California 4/Ebbetts Pass Highway enters the Stanislaus National Forest. While the state highway stays in the forest for most of the way through the foothills toward Ebbetts Pass, it will enter and leave the forest several times, notably around Arnold. Soon thereafter, California 4 enters Hathaway Pines (elevation 3,415 feet above sea level, population 791 per the Caltrans entry sign). Photos taken 07/18/09.
California 4 enters the unincorporated community of Avery (elevation 3,388 feet above sea level, population 125 per the Caltrans entry sign). Eastbound California 4 meets Avery Sheep Ranch Road, which travels west to Sheep Ranch (seven miles) and Mountain Ranch (14 miles). Photos taken 07/18/09.
This mileage sign along eastbound California 4/Ebbetts Pass Highway provides the distance to Arnold (four miles), Big Trees State Park (seven miles), and Lake Alpine (33 miles). The state highway travels almost due north from Avery to Arnold. Photo taken 07/18/09.
Eastbound California 4/Ebbetts Pass Highway enters the unincorporated community of Arnold (population 4,218 as of the 2000 Census, elevation 4,000 feet above sea level). A climbing lane helps facilitate uphill traffic. Tourism is year round in Arnold, with its location on the way to the Bear Valley/Mt Reba Ski Resort and Big Trees State Park. Photo taken 07/18/09.
California 4/Ebbetts Pass Highway approaches Meadowmont Way (left turn). Photo taken 07/18/09.
Eastbound California 4 approaches Meadowview Road. Photo taken 07/18/09.
Eastbound California 4 approaches Pine Drive. Photo taken 07/18/09.
California 4 reaches 4,000 feet above sea level. Photo taken 07/18/09.
Soon thereafter, California 4 enters downtown Arnold. Photo taken 07/18/09.
Eastbound California 4 meets Dunbar Road north and Blagen Road northeast to the unincorporated community of White Pines and nearby White Pines Lake. Photo taken 07/18/09.
All motorist services (gas, food, lodging) are available along California 4 as the highway passes through Arnold. Photo taken 07/18/09.
California 4 becomes an official state scenic highway for the route from Arnold to Lake Alpine. Photo taken 07/18/09.
At the intersection with Arnold Byway (another old alignment of California 4), eastbound California 4 again gains a climbing lane and leaves Arnold. Photo taken 07/18/09.
This mileage sign along eastbound California 4/Ebbetts Pass Highway provides the distance to Big Trees State Park (four miles), Camp Connell (seven miles), and Markleeville (67 miles in Alpine County along California 89). The state highway will travel generally northeast along a ridge between the South Fork of the Mokelumne River and the North Fork of the Stanislaus River (between Arnold, Camp Connell, and Lake Alpine). Photo taken 07/18/09.
At the of the grade, California 4/Ebbetts Pass Highway loses the climbing lane and meets Moran Road, which travels to Blue Lake Springs Junction. The state recommended truck route designation ends at this point. Photo taken 07/18/09.
Continuing northeast, California 4 meanders through groves of ever-taller trees. Photo taken 07/18/09.
The next major intersection along eastbound California 4/Ebbetts Pass Highway is the turnoff to Big Trees State Park. This park preserves the North Grove of giant sequoias and is the location of the Discovery Tree, which is the first Sierra redwood found by settler Augustus T. Dowd in 1852. Photo taken 07/18/09.
Big Trees State Park is noted as the oldest continuously operating tourist attraction in California. Hiking and camping are available for park patrons. Photo taken 07/18/09.
California 4 reaches 5,000 feet above sea level. Photo taken 07/18/09.
Eastbound California 4 meets Golden Torch Drive to Golden Pines RV Resort and Campground. Photo taken 07/18/09.
California 4 enters Dorrington, an unincorporated community. The next intersection is with Boards Crossing Road. Photo taken 07/18/09.
Eastbound California 4 meets Sierra Parkway. Photo taken 07/18/09.
California 4 enters Camp Connell, an unincorporated community. Photo taken 07/18/09.
Gas and food are available at Camp Connell. Photo taken 07/18/09.