California 4

This view looks south at Lake Alpine, a reservoir located along California 4 east of Bear Valley and west of Ebbetts Pass in the Sierra Nevada. The lake is operated and managed by the Northern California Power Agency, while national forest campgrounds are located along the north shore of Lake Alpine. Photo taken 07/18/09.

California 4 connects the San Francisco Bay Area with the Sierra Nevada, passing through the city of Stockton along its path. The highway begins at Interstate 80 near Hercules, and begins as a four-lane expressway from Hercules east toward Martinez. Once in Martinez, California 4 becomes a full freeway known as the California Delta Highway. Along this industrial route, California 4 serves the power plants, ports, and industries of Concord, Pittsburg, and Antioch. The freeway then connects to the California 160 high bridge that crosses over the Sacramento/San Joaquin River Delta on its journey north to Sacramento.

East of California 160, California 4 becomes a very busy two-lane highway on its way to Stockton, one of the largest cities of the Central Valley. The ride approaching Stockton can be very busy at times, since California 4 is the principal route between the Central Valley and the Delta. Although California 4 is briefly a freeway between Interstate 5 and California 99, it resumes as a busy, two-lane road as it approaches the Sierra Nevada foothills.

Passing the Gold Country Highway (California 49) in Angels Camp, California 4 begins its ascent toward Ebbetts Pass. The highway begins to lose traffic as it passes by the mountain communities of Calaveras County. After passing by California 207 (Spur route into Bear Valley Ski Area) and Lake Alpine, California 4 becomes a one and a half lane road, so traffic must slow for any oncoming traffic over Ebbetts Pass. On the rainshadow side of the Sierra Nevada, California 4 descends toward its eastern terminus at California 89 south of Markleeville and west of Monitor Pass. Some maps show California 4 continuing east into Nevada via California 89 north and California 88 east, and California 4 west is signed from California 88 through Markleeville.

California 4 Highway Guides

California 4 scenes
East of Bear Valley Mountain Resort and west of Ebbetts Pass is Lake Alpine, a reservoir managed by the Northern California Power Agency. This warning sign advises lake users to watch for submerged objects as the level of the lake may fluctuate. Stanislaus National Forest manages a campground at this location as well. Photo taken 07/18/09.
A boat launch ramp into Lake Alpine is located across from the Lake Alpine Lodge. Boat rentals are available at the lodge, and a floating dock allows access over the water for boarding. Photos taken 07/18/09.
This series of pictures shows Lake Alpine as seen from the central boat launch in the campground. The lake is surrounded by mountains and provides electrical generation and water to users downstream. Campgrounds line the lake on the north shore. Photos taken 07/18/09.
Cape Horn Vista is found on California 4 a few miles east of Lake Alpine at the point where the highway passes through a rock outcropping. Looking south from the cape are these views looking out toward the Dardenelle Range (including Elephant Rock) and the Carson-Iceberg Wilderness Area of Stanislaus National Forest. This turnoff sits at an elevation of 7,960 feet and offers excellent views to the east, south, and west. Photos taken 07/18/09.

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Page Updated January 16, 2010.

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