Concerns on Sierra Cascades Route

September 9, 2010

If you've been following our blog for very long, you know that this past spring we announced the availability of maps for our newest route, the Sierra Cascades Bicycle Route. We were excited to see this route added to our network, and so were you. The maps have been selling quickly, with cyclists already out on the road and ride journals beginning to pop up on the Internet.

Unfortunately, we have been getting some reports that cyclists are feeling unsafe on portions of State Highway 89 in California. Specifically, from McCloud to Truckee. A significant economic activity in that area is logging, which leads to a fair amount of logging truck traffic on SR 89.

In response to this feedback, we have been in touch with the California Transportation Department (CalTrans), looking for assistance with the situation. From my conversation with a CalTrans district administrator, I discovered that there haven't been any recorded conflicts between cyclists and truckers. However, historically, the ridership numbers in this area are also very low. These two factors lead us to believe that a little education may be in order.

Normally, the first thing we do in a situation such as this — after the feedback has been verified — is to look for a reroute. While that is feasible in this case, it would dramatically change the character of the route. There are few roads in the region and even fewer that are paved. We'd have to leave that forested corridor and travel roads closer to the Central Valley or the Great Basin. We'd rather not do that if another solution can be found.

It was already in the plans to send out a letter to all the businesses listed on the maps to let them know about the Sierra Cascades Route. Included in the letter will be a Sierra Cascades decal to display in the front windows of these businesses if they choose. We are now considering doing a follow-up press release to these same businesses and the local newspapers emphasizing the positive economic impacts traveling cyclists have on communities, as well as providing them with a "Share the Road" message. We will also continue our dialogue with CalTrans about the importance of respecting and accommodating cyclists on the roadways.

We appreciate the intrepid cyclists who took on (or are still taking on) this challenging route in its first year. We hope that, with your continued feedback, we can update and improve this route and all the others in the Adventure Cycling Route Network.

Please send us your feedback and map corrections for the Sierra Cascades Route, or any of our other routes, via our map correction form.

GEOPOINTS BULLETIN is written by Jennifer 'Jenn' Milyko, an Adventure Cycling cartographer, and appears weekly, highlighting curious facts, figures, and persons from the Adventure Cycling Route Network with tips and hints for personal route creation thrown in for good measure. She also wants to remind you that map corrections and comments are always welcome via the online Map Correction Form.


Jenn, Cartographer September 9, 2011, 11:16 AM

Hi Alan, Thanks for your feedback about your experience on SR 89. Hopefully change will come as awareness increases. We continue to work on that awareness. Have you seen this more recent blog post on the issue?

Good to hear from riders on the route. Thanks again for writing.

Alan September 3, 2011, 6:38 PM

Just finished the section of Highway 89 from McCloud to Truckee. I went in with an open mind but have to agree with the above posts. The logging trucks aren''t going away (except for Saturday and Sunday). For this highway to be a viable bicycle touring route, the roadway needs shoulders (where the lumber trucking and traffic is the worst). Nobody expects 4''shoulders to appear overnight, but the worst areas can be addressed first. Bicycle tourists are spending money in small businesses along this rural highway. When word gets out that this stretch of highway is not so great, the bicycle tourists will go some where else. Otherwise, this stretch of highway has the potential to fit nicely with the rest of the Sierra Cascades route.

Fred Lonas January 5, 2011, 7:04 PM

I lived in Burney, Calif. for 10years and I was on sr 89 many times and yes logging is big business and the drivers get payed by the load so they drive fast on the narrow rd. I don''t know if routing further east toward Alturas is the answer but worth looking at.

As for the heat I have thought of doing the route but starting at the southern end in April or May to beat the southern heat

Jim September 20, 2010, 4:11 PM

Was Monitor Pass tougher than Tioga?

Every time I mentioned Tioga Pass to someone they warned me about it. Narrow, traffic, etc not to mention the ~3000 ft climb from Lee Vining.

Rick Olson September 14, 2010, 3:51 PM

Oops. Meant to say Monitor was the toughest in the SIERRAS.

Rick Olson September 14, 2010, 3:49 PM

Ahoy. I just finished riding the Sierra Cascade route from Rainier to Sequoia as part of my Playground Tour. ( HWY 89 was indeed pretty sketchy. Between construction, an extremely lengthy shoulderless portion and constant logging trucks it was a bit dicey, but that''s the name of the game I feel. For the most part, the logging trucks were respectful and gave us ample room, but it''s not always possible with oncoming traffic and a couple times we were ran off the road.

All in all, we had a great time on the route though. The Oregon section is phenomenal, almost traveling entirely through National Forest land. As Jim said, it''s very... VERY hot in the southern section. My thermostat read 110 during the 6,000'' climb into Kings Canyon. Bring a ton of water on this portion. Back roads with no water sources.

Jim, you missed out on Monitor Pass! One of the toughest climbs, but the view from the top makes you forget about all the climbing it took. I''d say it was the toughest pass in the Cascades though...

Jenn, Cartographer September 10, 2010, 10:03 AM

Hi Jim,

Thanks for commenting here. I think you make a good point that doing this entire route in one pass might be challenging due to its unique combination of terrain and climate. I found your journal to be an interesting read (Squirt and CCFs are an interesting road fuel combo!) and look forward to any further insight you have from your tour.

Jim September 9, 2010, 7:47 PM

I will post more comments here, extracting from my journal on

I finished riding an abridged version of the S-C route last Friday, Sep 3 and rode some alternatives and drove on some when I went home to Sisters, Or. I haven't seen comments on rt 89 south of Lake Tahoe, which I did not ride partly because I was so disappointed in the condition of the road along most of it's length up to there and partly because I did not want to do the Monitor Pass climbing.

One overarching conclusion: this route is not a very good one to do as a "through ride" because the weather conditions are so variable. Summer is good for the northern sections but it is too hot in the south. Through hikers on the PCT spread the hiking to sort of accommodate the weather.

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