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Author Topic: Yokohl Valley Drive/Mountain Route 296 and County Route J37/Balch Park Road  (Read 658 times)

Max Rockatansky

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What's a day off with good weather that shouldn't include a mountain drive?  I've never tried Yokohl Valley Drive before so I figured it would be worth a go since it was only 23 miles from CA 198 to County Route J37.  Starting out in Yokohl there is a clear Mountain Route reference of 296 on the street blade at CA 198:

IMG_4854 by Max Rockatansky, on Flickr

Yokohl Valley Drive isn't anything too crazy starting out at approximately 500 feet and is pretty deceptively normal up to where it splits east from Myer Drive:

IMG_4859 by Max Rockatansky, on Flickr

IMG_4860 by Max Rockatansky, on Flickr

The road narrows down quite a bit heading through the valley leading east but it isn't anything too concerning just yet:

IMG_4861 by Max Rockatansky, on Flickr

IMG_4863 by Max Rockatansky, on Flickr

Twelve miles in is the first warning sign about the road becoming windy:

IMG_4867 by Max Rockatansky, on Flickr

Which offers some pretty awesome views of the Sierras:

IMG_4870 by Max Rockatansky, on Flickr

Some nice older culvert work:

IMG_4872 by Max Rockatansky, on Flickr

Things start to get pretty bad with the pavement as the elevation starts to climb:

IMG_4873 by Max Rockatansky, on Flickr

IMG_4874 by Max Rockatansky, on Flickr

Max Rockatansky

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This warning sign about the road becoming too narrow for trucks or trailers is where Yokohl Valley Drive starts a large uphill ascent:

IMG_4875 by Max Rockatansky, on Flickr

The road gets extremely narrow at this point, I'm actually surprised there is a maintained center stripe:

IMG_4876 by Max Rockatansky, on Flickr

There is a couple hairpins but this one was by far the tightest at about 2,000 feet above sea level:

IMG_4879 by Max Rockatansky, on Flickr

IMG_4881 by Max Rockatansky, on Flickr

With a view of the roadway you just took and the valley below looking west:

IMG_4882 by Max Rockatansky, on Flickr

Looking back towards the hairpin, I forgot to mention there is no guardrails...seems to be a theme for roads I take:

IMG_4884 by Max Rockatansky, on Flickr

Yokohl Valley Drive tops out at an unnamed summit at about 2,700 feet above sea level:

IMG_4886 by Max Rockatansky, on Flickr

The road offers some great views but is basically glorified gravel in the curves:

IMG_4889 by Max Rockatansky, on Flickr

The terrain levels out near J37 and the pavement becomes much smoother.  And speaking of J37....holy $%@! a REAL actual County Route that is signed in Tulare County.  Literally this is the one and ONLY county route I've actually seen signed in Tulare County:

IMG_4894 by Max Rockatansky, on Flickr

Max Rockatansky

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Oddly the Mountain 296 designation continues east on J37 towards Balch Park and Mountain Home State Forest.  I want to say the rest of J37 to Springdale was Mountain 236?

IMG_4898 by Max Rockatansky, on Flickr

The roadway was closed 13 miles up head for the season.  I would speculate that it might be another month before it is completely opened:

IMG_4899 by Max Rockatansky, on Flickr

IMG_4906 by Max Rockatansky, on Flickr

Really I just wanted to see this bridge and get the build time stamp off of it which was 1927.  I don't know how old Balch Camp Road is, it could much older given that it is a road to a grove of Sequoias.  This particular bridge crosses the North Fork Tule River:

IMG_4902 by Max Rockatansky, on Flickr

IMG_4903 by Max Rockatansky, on Flickr

IMG_4905 by Max Rockatansky, on Flickr

Heading south to Springdale there is actually another J37 sign but sadly none at CA 190:

IMG_4907 by Max Rockatansky, on Flickr

IMG_4908 by Max Rockatansky, on Flickr

So basically what I do know about Yokohl Valley Drive and Balch Park Road is that they were county maintained in 1935:

http://www.davidrumsey.com/luna/servlet/detail/RUMSEY~8~1~247377~5515399:Tulare-County-?sort=Pub_List_No_InitialSort%2CPub_Date%2CPub_List_No%2CSeries_No&qvq=q:california%2Bdivision%2Bof%2Bhighways;sort:Pub_List_No_InitialSort%2CPub_Date%2CPub_List_No%2CSeries_No;lc:RUMSEY~8~1&mi=75&trs=160

J37 was assigned in 1975 which was very late in the game for signed county routes and probably explains why there is still shields.  The entire route is a tick over 25 miles in length:

http://www.cahighways.org/countyj.html#J37

My full album can be found here, lots of good monochromes to be had from both routes.  I would highly recommend Yokohl Valley Drive, really it isn't too far out in the boonies and offers some really nice driving and views of the mountains:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/151828809@N08/33367569185/in/album-72157677871436503/


 


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