California 4 East

Alpine County #2


Highway Guides

California 4/Ebbetts Pass National Scenic Byway east
California 4 reaches Pacific Grade Summit (elevation 8,050 feet above sea level) and now begins its descent into Pacific Valley and Hermit Valley. Photo taken 07/18/09.
A precipitous cliff with no guardrails greets eastbound California 4 motorists upon leaving the summit. Ahead is a series of downhill, slow-moving switchbacks. Very few warning signs are posted at the switchbacks, which means motorists must be extra cautious driving into Pacific Valley and Hermit Valley. Photo taken 07/18/09.
California 4 proceeds through a series of switchbacks from the Pacific Grade Summit (elevation 8,050 feet above sea level) down to Pacific Valley (elevation 7,600 feet above sea level). Photos taken 07/18/09.

At the bottom of the hill is a 1937 bridge that carries California 4 over the Pacific Creek (the bridge was widened and modernized in 1986; we are now at postmile ALP 11.99). Photo taken 07/18/09.
Towering walls of granite line California 4 after crossing Pacific Creek. Photo taken 07/18/09.
Approaching Hermit Valley, another 1937 bridge carries California 4 over the North Fork of the Mokelumne River (the bridge was widened and modernized in 1986; we are now at postmile ALP 12.94). Photo taken 07/18/09.
Postmiles begin to appear in earnest again once we enter the Pacific Valley and Hermit Valley. Photo taken 07/18/09.
A sign marks Hermit Valley's elevation as 7,080 feet above sea level. From this low point, California 4 makes another journey uphill, this time to Ebbetts Pass. Photo taken 07/18/09.
Hermit Valley allows for a brief flat area along California 4. The state highway passes through a meadow area, then will start to ascend again. Photo taken 07/18/09.
And then California 4 starts to gradually gain elevation for the final distance to Ebbetts Pass. Trees and large rocks/boulders line both sides of the highway. Some trees are just a little too close for comfort. Photos taken 07/18/09.
A turnoff links California 4 with Highland Lakes Road south to Highland Lakes (near Tryon Peak, elevation 9,970 feet above sea level). A campground is located at Highland Lakes; the road ends shortly after the campground. Photo taken 07/18/09.
Increasing elevation yields different biomes. California 4 sees juniper trees and sagebrush, which portends the drier climate found in Nevada. The wetter climate found in the foothills that yielded redwood trees is not found here. Photo taken 07/18/09.
Looking south from California 4 is this view of Tryon Peak, elevation 9,970 feet above sea level. Photo taken 07/18/09.
Traffic struggles up California 4 near Ebbetts Pass. Photo taken 07/18/09.
California 4 approaches Ebbetts Pass. Photo taken 07/18/09.
Eastbound California 4 passes postmile ALP 18.00. Photo taken 07/18/09.
Highland Peak (elevation 10,935 feet above sea level) comes into view from eastbound California 4 just before reaching Ebbetts Pass. Snow remains on the peak even though it is mid-July. Photo taken 07/18/09.
At Ebbetts Pass, California 4 leaves Stanislaus National Forest and enters Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest, the largest national forest in the Lower 48 States and largely found in eastern California and Nevada. Photo taken 07/18/09.
California 4 crosses over the Sierra Nevada Mountains at Ebbetts Pass (elevation 8,730 feet above sea level). These pictures were taken when the highway over the pass was open. During the winter and in times of high snowfall, this pass is closed. Photos taken 07/18/09 and by Glenn Pillsbury (08/21/05).
This sign provides a brief history of Ebbetts Pass, including its role in providing a route from Silver City, Nevada, west to San Francisco when it opened in 1864. Photo taken 07/18/09.
This view looks north from Ebbetts Pass toward a volcanic mountain topped with an American flag. We walked up a nearby trail to see the mountain and its flag from a distance. Photos taken 07/18/09.
This view looks at the mountainous area around Ebbetts Pass as seen from a nearby trail. The pass is located between two higher points, and the highway squeezes through it. Photos taken 07/18/09.
The Pacific Crest Trail intersects California 4 shortly after leaving Ebbetts Pass. From here, California 4 descends on the leeward side of the Sierra Nevada and will not again achieve the same elevation as seen at Ebbetts Pass. Photo taken 07/18/09.
After descending for a bit from the pass, eastbound California 4 approaches Kinney Reservoir (elevation 8,353 feet above sea level. The photos here also show the reservoir that lies on the north side of the highway. Photo taken 07/18/09.
We pass postmile ALP 20.00. Photo taken 07/18/09.
A postmile 21.79 (shows as 21.73 in the Caltrans District 10 Bridge Log), eastbound California 4 crosses over Upper Cascade Creek on a 1939 bridge that has not been widened since then. Photo taken 07/18/09.
Curving after the bridge, a sweeping view of the valley below greets eastbound travelers on California 4. From here, the state highway will descend gradually into the valley through a series of curves and downgrades. Photo taken 07/18/09.
In the rainshadow of the Sierra Nevada, precipitation totals are generally lower than on the west side of Pacific Grade Summit. The trees and sagebrush are a bit more sparse than seen near Lake Alpine, for example. Photo taken 07/18/09.
A wall of granite lines the edge of California 4 as the highway continues downhill. Photo taken 07/18/09.
California 4 has no curve ahead signage and limited guardrails as seen here, plus the highway remains one and a half lanes wide. Photo taken 07/18/09.
California 4 passes by postmile ALP 22.00. Photo taken 07/18/09.
Beware of falling rocks. Photo taken 07/18/09.
A series of switchbacks is located near Noble Lake Trailhead and Silver Creek Campground. Certain views look south toward towering Highland Peak (elevation 10,935 feet above sea level). After Silver Creek Campground, California 4 parallels the Silver Creek in a northeastern direction toward Centreville Flat. Photo taken 07/18/09.
Eastbound California 4 approaches the Silver Creek campground and will now parallel the Silver Creek northeast toward the East Fork of the Carson River. Photo taken 07/18/09.
The first switchback curve sign since leaving Lake Alpine appears on eastbound. Photo taken 07/18/09.
Lowering to 7,000 feet above sea level, eastbound California 4 passes through winter closure gates, then passes over Raymond Medo Creek (postmile ALP 24.47, built 1963). The highway continues with one and a half lanes, then will widen to two lanes. Photo taken 07/18/09.
A centerline stripe appears again on California 4 after the Raymond Medo Creek bridge. Photo taken 07/18/09.
California 4 crosses over Silver Creek twice, first on this 1952 bridge. Photo taken 07/18/09.
California 4 follows Silver Creek through a scenic valley. Photo taken 07/18/09.
A house and large chimney are found on the north side of California 4. Photo taken 07/18/09.
California 4 again crosses Silver Creek and moves to its north bank. Photo taken 07/18/09.
After another winter closure gate, eastbound California 4 enters the site of Centreville Flat, a former mining camp and today a campground. A right turn here follows the East Fork of Carson River and Wolf Creek south into the Carson Iceberg Wilderness. Photo taken 07/18/09.
Eastbound California 4 follows the East Fork of the Carson River almost due north from Centreville Flat to the junction with California 89. Photo taken 07/18/09.
Notably, there has not been an eastbound reassurance shield for California 4 east for some distance. Passing by this shield for westbound traffic, we are almost at the California 89 intersection. Photo taken 07/18/09.
Eastbound California 4 approaches its junction with California 89 at postmile ALP 31.68. From here north to Woodfords via Markleeville, California 89 is signed alone. However, the southbound direction of California 89 from Woodfords to Markleeville is signed for both California 4 west and California 89 south. Based on signage, this means that California 4 east ends at the southern California 89 intersection, while California 4 west begins at the California 88 intersection in Woodfords. Photo taken 07/18/09.
Bending around a curve, eastbound California 4 meets California 89 at this intersection south of Markleeville. California 89 travels east from this intersection over Monitor Pass to U.S. 395 near Topaz Lake, while California 89 travels north (straight ahead) to Markleeville and California 88 at Woodfords Junction. California 88 provides the connection into Carson Valley in Nevada, ultimately ending at U.S. 395 south of Carson City. The eastern terminus of California 4 is signed with an END shield. Photos taken 07/18/09 and by Glenn Pillsbury (08/21/05).
California 89 north (and former California 4 east)
Leaving the California 4 intersection, California 89 north now follows the east bank of the East Fork of the Carson River. Northbound is signed only for California 89, while southbound is signed for both California 4 west and California 89 south. Photo taken 07/18/09.
California 89 continues north through the valley carved by the nearby river. Summertime fly fishing is a popular activity in Eastern Sierra rivers. Photo taken 07/18/09.
Northbound California 89 crosses over the East Fork of the Carson River via Hangmans Bridge, which was built in 1934 and widened in 1980. A trailhead is located here, as well as a campground a mile or so ahead. Photo taken 07/18/09.
Leaving the East Fork of the Carson River, California 89 passes by a pastoral meadow and its livestock. Markleeville lies just ahead. Photo taken 07/18/09.
Northbound California 89 approaches the unincorporated community of Markleeville, the seat of Alpine County (the least populated county in California). Markleeville had a population of 197 as of the 2000 Census and sits at an elevation of 5,531 feet above sea level. Photo taken 07/18/09.
California 89 crosses Markleeville Creek on this 1929 concrete tee beam bridge. The downtown area lies ahead. Photo taken 07/18/09.
Markleeville is a fairly old community, having been founded by Jacob Marklee when he constructed a toll bridge over the Markleeville Creek during the during a silver mining boom in 1861. Downtown is fairly small, with most services available here. Full services are available at Lake Tahoe and in Nevada's Carson Valley. Photo taken 07/18/09.
Northbound California 89 meets Alpine County Route E-1/Hot Springs Road west to Grover Hot Springs State Park. The park is open for soaking for a nominal fee. County Route E-1 has only one remaining sign, and it's located on southbound California 4-89. Photo taken 07/18/09.
Leaving Markleeville, this mileage sign provides the distance to Woodfords (six miles), Minden (22 miles via California 88 northwest), and Lake Tahoe (32 miles via California 89 north). Photo taken 07/18/09.
Northbound California 89 meets Airport Road east to Indian Creek Reservoir, Indian Creek Reservoir Campground, and Alpine County Airport. Photo taken 07/18/09.
California 89 continues north toward Woodfords. Photo taken 07/18/09.
The late-day summer sunshine brought shadows to the highway. Between Markleeville and Woodfords, California 89 leaves the valley of the East Fork of the Carson River, crosses over some rugged terrain, and then connects to the West Fork of the Carson River valley. Photo taken 07/18/09.
Northbound California 89 approaches Diamond Valley Road. Photo taken 07/18/09.
California 89 approaches Woodfords, where it meets California 88. Food and gas are available here at Sierra Pines (left turn). Photo taken 07/18/09.
Northbound California 89 approaches California 88. At the stop sign ahead, turn left to follow California 88 west and California 89 north to Jackson and Lake Tahoe, respectively. Turn right ahead to follow California 88 to Nevada 88 to Minden and Gardnerville. Photo taken 07/18/09.
California 88 is a major east-west highway that extends from Stockton to Minden via Carson Pass. It is a year-round highway, kept open except during the worst winter storms. Photo taken 07/18/09.
Northbound California 89 meets California 88 at this stop sign (after crossing over the 1960 West Fork of the Carson River bridge). Turn left for Stockton, Jackson, and Lake Tahoe. Turn right for Minden, Gardnerville, and all Carson Valley, Nevada communities. (Signage for California 4 west begins at this intersection. Some maps -- such as Compass Maps from the 1980s -- have shown California 4 turning right here to end at the Nevada state line, but no such signage was in place in 2009). Photo taken 07/18/09.


California 4 ends Junction California 89
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Page Updated January 17, 2010.

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