California 168

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California 168

Routing

California 168 was originally planned as a trans-Sierra Nevada route, beginning in Fresno and heading east through Bishop to the Nevada state line via modern U.S. 6. However, this trans-mountain route was never constructed, and U.S. 6 took over the segment of California 168 between U.S. 395 and the state line. Today, California 168 exists in three segments: from California 99 in Fresno northeast to Lakeshore in the Sierra Nevada Mountains; from a point in the Inyo National Forest northeast to U.S. 395 in Bishop; and from U.S. 395 in Big Pine northeast to California 266 in the Fish Lake Valley.

History

Prior to the construction of the Sierra Freeway segment of California 168 in Fresno, the state highway used to follow Shaw Avenue west to its former terminus at California 99.

Highway Guide

California 168 (Fresno County Segment) east
California 168 begins its eastbound journey by traveling north and then east on the Sierra Freeway. The state highway begins as it transitions from California 180 to northbound Sierra Freeway. This freeway was opened in the early 2000s. Prior to that, California 168 followed Shaw Avenue through the cities of Fresno and Clovis. Photo taken 12/01/02.
The first exit on eastbound California 168/Sierra Freeway is Exit 1, McKinley Avenue. Between Exits 1 and 3, eastbound California 168 is headed due north rather than east. Photo taken 12/01/02.
The next exit along eastbound California 168/Sierra Freeway is Exit 2, Shields Avenue, one-half mile. Photo taken 12/01/02.
Shields Avenue is a major east-west arterial in Fresno. Photo taken 12/01/02.
Eastbound California 168/Sierra Freeway reaches Exit 2, Shields Avenue. Photo taken 12/01/02.
The next exit along eastbound California 168/Sierra Freeway is Exit 3, Ashlan Avenue, three-quarters of a mile. Photo taken 12/01/02.
Eastbound California 168/Sierra Freeway reaches Exit 3, Ashlan Avenue. The freeway turns northeast between Exits 3 and 7. Photo taken 12/01/02.
The next exit along eastbound California 168/Sierra Freeway is Exit 4, Shaw Avenue (Former California 168), one mile. This exit leads to California State University at Fresno (CSUF), which sits northwest of the California 168 freeway. Photo taken 12/01/02.

Angling toward the northeast, California 168/Sierra Freeway approaches Exit 4, Shaw Avenue, one-half mile. Photo taken 12/01/02.
Eastbound California 168/Sierra Freeway reaches Exit 4, Shaw Avenue. Photo taken 12/01/02.
The next exit along eastbound California 168/Sierra Freeway is Exit 6, Bullard Avenue, one mile. Photo taken 12/01/02.
Still traveling northeast, California 168/Sierra Freeway approaches Exit 6, Bullard Avenue, three-quarters of a mile. This is the final exit to serve the city of Fresno; California 168 will soon enter the city of Clovis. Photo taken 12/01/02.
Eastbound California 168/Sierra Freeway reaches Exit 6, Bullard Avenue. This is the first exit for Clovis. Photo taken 12/01/02.
The next exit along eastbound California 168/Sierra Freeway is Exit 7, Herndon Avenue, three-quarters of a mile. Photo taken 12/01/02.
Eastbound California 168/Sierra Freeway approaches Exit 7, Herndon Avenue, next right. Photo taken 12/01/02.
Eastbound California 168/Sierra Freeway reaches Exit 7, Herndon Avenue. The freeway narrows from six to four lanes at Exit 7. Photo taken 12/01/02.
The next exit along eastbound California 168/Sierra Freeway is Exit 8, Fowler Avenue, one mile. Photo taken 12/01/02.
Eastbound California 168/Sierra Freeway approaches Exit 8, Fowler Avenue, one-half mile. Photo taken 12/01/02.
Eastbound California 168/Sierra Freeway reaches Exit 8, Fowler Avenue. Photo taken 12/01/02.
The next exit along eastbound California 168/Sierra Freeway is Exit 9, Temperance Avenue, one mile. Photo taken 12/01/02.
Eastbound California 168/Sierra Freeway approaches Exit 9, Temperance Avenue, one-quarter of a mile. Photo taken 12/01/02.
Eastbound California 168/Sierra Freeway reaches Exit 9, Temperance Avenue. Photo taken 12/01/02.
The final interchange along eastbound California 168/Sierra Freeway is Exit 10, Tollhouse Road and the end of the freeway, one-half mile. Photo taken 12/01/02.
Eastbound California 168/Sierra Freeway approaches Tollhouse Road, one-quarter mile. Photo taken 12/01/02.
California 168 shifts from the Sierra Freeway onto an expressway alignment at the traffic signal for Tollhouse Road. The divided expressway continues for a short distance, and then the highway reverts to two lanes. Originally, California 168 was routed along Tollhouse Road all the way into downtown Clovis. Photo taken 12/01/02.
Route Gap through Sierra Nevada
California 168 (Eastern Sierra Segment) east
Leaving the Lake Sabrina campground, eastbound California 168 begins its journey along Bishop Creek toward the city of Bishop in the Owens Valley. The state highway is designated as an official state scenic route from Lake Sabrina to Bishop. Photos taken 11/10/08.
The first intersection found along California 168 (Eastern Sierra Segment) east is with North Lake Road, which travels to North Lake. Photo taken 11/10/08.
As the late-day sun retreated into the evening, views such as this opened up on eastbound California 168 as we begin the long descent into Bishop. Photo taken 11/10/08.
A large rock slide dominates the view as we proceed toward the small community of Aspendell. Photo taken 11/10/08.
Watch for falling rocks along this section of roadway. Photo taken 11/10/08.
Eastbound California 168 enters the unincorporated community of Aspendell. Photo taken 11/10/08.
The descent out of Aspendell toward Bishop can be quite steep, amounting to a 7% grade in places. Watch for slow traffic and watch your speed on this sharp downhill grade. Photo taken 11/10/08.
California 168 leaves Inyo National Forest. Photo taken 11/10/08.
California 168 passes under the Path 65 power lines and the LADWP 230kV power lines. Photo taken 11/10/08.
A California 168 east reassurance shield is posted prior to entering the urban areas of Bishop. Photo taken 11/10/08.
Now in the city of Bishop, eastbound California 168/Line Street approaches its junction with U.S. 395/Main Street. Turn left here to follow U.S. 395 north to Mammoth Lakes and Reno or U.S. 6 northeast to Benton and Montgomery Pass. Turn right to follow U.S. 395 south to Independence, Ridgecrest, and Los Angeles. Photo taken 11/10/08.
This shield advises that California 168 will turn right from eastbound Line Street onto southbound U.S. 395/Main Street. The two routes will share alignment for about ten miles before splitting in Big Pine. Photo taken 11/10/08.
California 168 east and U.S. 395 south
California 168 east
On the other side of the Sierra Nevada, this mileage sign is posted on eastbound California 168 after the U.S. 395 junction in Big Pine. The mileage sign provides the distance to Junction U.S. 95 in Nevada. There are no services at all between Big Pine and Beatty and/or Goldfield. This includes not only Westgard Pass, but also Deep Springs Valley, Fishlake Valley, and Dyer, Nevada. In addition, since California 168 traverses several mountains and valleys, it can be windy and steep - hence why there's a sign warning motorists here. Photos taken 01/19/02.
California 168 meets Death Valley Road at this intersection. This turnoff is located just east of Big Pine. Death Valley Road leads south along a paved/gravel road via Saline Valley along the western fringe of the national park. The road ultimately ends at California 190 near Darwin. Photo taken 01/19/02.
The White Mountains loom as California 168 continues east. Photo taken 01/19/02.
This turnoff connects California 168 with the Bristlecone Pine Forest. Photo taken 01/19/02.
Approaching Westgard Pass, eastbound California 168 will become a one-lane highway. Watch for oncoming cars! Photo taken 01/19/02.
California 168 crosses Westgard Pass via this narrow one-lane segment. Although it does not seem like it, this picture was taken mid-morning, not at twilight. The area looks dark because the sunlight did not reach this narrow chasm on this winter morning. Motorists just have to hope no one is coming, based on these blind curves. Photos taken 01/19/02.
Upon leaving Westgard Pass, California 168 returns to a full two-lane highway after traveling through the narrow pass. Photo taken 01/19/02.
Descending from Westgard Pass, eastbound California 168 enters isolated Deep Springs Valley. Photo taken 01/19/02.
Here, eastbound California 168 meets the Deep Springs turnoff. This is the only evidence of civilization in this expansive valley located between Westgard Pass and Gilbert Summit. California 168 meets California 266 in Fishlake Valley, which is the next valley after Gilbert Summit. Photos taken 01/19/02.
Traveling uphill again, eastbound California 168 approaches Gilbert Summit. The road is rather windy as it approaches the pass. Photo taken 01/19/02.
California 168 crosses Gilbert Summit, which is the high point between Deep Springs Valley and Fishlake Valley, elevation 6,374 feet. Photo taken 01/19/02.
Shortly after cresting at Gilbert Summit, eastbound California 168 descends into Fish Lake Valley. Photo taken 01/19/02.
Eastbound California 168 meets its junction with California 266 in Fish Lake Valley. At one time (1999), this sign included Nevada 264 and Nevada 266 shields, but they have since been removed (see older picture). To the best of our knowledge, this route has never been signed as "California 264." First photo taken 01/19/02; second photo taken by Joel Windmiller in Summer 1999.
An END California 168 shield and a junction California 266 trailblazer shield are posted along eastbound California 168 in the Fish Lake Valley. Photos taken 01/19/02.
California 168 (Eastern Sierra Segment) west
Westbound California 168 mileage sign after the Fish Lake Valley Junction with California 266. Photo taken 01/19/02.
This California 168 west shield is posted after the Deep Springs cutoff. Photo taken 01/19/02.
This mileage sign is found along westbound California 168 after the Deep Springs cutoff. Photo taken 01/19/02.
Westbound California 168 ascends toward Westgard Pass from Deep Springs Valley. Photo taken 01/19/02.
Here is a view of the dominating and majestic eastern slope of the Sierra Nevada Mountains as seen along westbound California 168 as it approaches U.S. 395/Three Flags Highway and Big Pine after descending from Westgard Pass. Photo taken 01/19/02.
California 168 west and U.S. 395 north
California 168 west
Leaving the intersection with U.S. 395, a California 168 west reassurance shield is posted along West Line Street. The state highway will travel west to West Bishop, then southwest to Lake Sabrina, near which the state highway ends. California 168 does not extend across the Sierra Nevada, but an orphaned section of California 168 exists in Fresno County. Photo taken 11/10/08.
After a couple miles passing through the city of Bishop into West Bishop, another California 168 east reassurance shield is posted. From here, the state highway will follow Bishop Creek to Aspendell and Lake Sabrina. Photo taken 11/10/08.
A pair of Los Angeles Department of Water and Power transmission lines cross over California 168. One is a high-voltage direct current line connecting Celilo Converter Station near The Dalles, Oregon, and Sylmar Converter Station in Los Angeles (part of Path 65). The other brings power generated along the Owens River south to Los Angeles. Photo taken 11/10/08.
This mileage sign along California 168 west provides the distance to the following four destinations: Aspendell (12 miles), North Lake (14 miles), Lake Sabrina (14 miles), and South Lake (17 miles via South Lake Road). The state highway ends just west of Aspendell. Photo taken 11/10/08.
As we slowly gain elevation, this view looks back at Owens Valley. Photo taken 11/10/08.
Another power line crosses over California 168. Photo taken 11/10/08.
The towering peaks of the Sierra Nevada dominate the view as the highway continues to gain elevation. Photo taken 11/10/08.
California 168 enters Inyo National Forest. Photo taken 11/10/08.
California 168 ascends toward Aspendell and Lake Sabrina. Even as the highway travels above 6,000 feet above sea level, California 168 is a fairly fast route with modern curves and grades. Photo taken 11/10/08.
Westbound California 168 approaches South Lake Road, which travels south to South Lake. Seasonal camping and hiking opportunities are available at South Lake. Follow California 168 west to Aspendell and Lake Sabrina. Photo taken 11/10/08.
Continuing to gain elevation, California 168 ascends to 8,000 feet above sea level. Photo taken 11/10/08.
Westbound California 168 enters the unincorporated community of Aspendell. Photo taken 11/10/08.
After passing by several homes and cottages, the next marked intersection is with Cardinal Road (next right). Photo taken 11/10/08.
A large slide area appears on the left side of California 168 as the highway continues southwest into Lake Sabrina. Photo taken 11/10/08.
The next right turn from California 168 west connects to North Lake. Photo taken 11/10/08.
Arriving at the entrance to the Lake Sabrina Campground, California 168 comes to its end, and the National Forest Service takes over maintenance of the final distance of road into the campground itself. Photos taken 11/10/08.
Route Gap over Sierra Nevada
California 168 (Fresno County Segment) west
Scenes Pertaining to California 168
These California 168 freeway entrance shield assemblies are posted at Shields Avenue in Fresno. Photos taken by Trevor Carrier, 2002.

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Page Updated March 23, 2010.