Western Sierra Trailheads
and Central Valley Highways
Revised 28 Mar 2012 - please send updates to the webmaster
Western Sierra Trailheads (click on any black label)|
Central Valley Approaches (click on any red label)
Western Sierra Trailheads:
When driving to the Western Sierra Nevada, you'll probably go through some part of the Central Valley. This overview will guide you to detailed descriptions of commonly used highways and how to get through confusing towns, ignoring the obvious north-south routes of Hwy 99 and Interstate 5.
Review this file, with your own map, BEFORE you leave town! Some cities (like Madera) have made it unclear how to get through town apparently in an effort to increase commerce, and others (like Bakersfield) have grown so large that there are multiple routes to choose from. The town of Prather is included because all routes to the major west side reservoirs converge there on the way to Shaver Lake.
There are several roads that connect Hwy 99 with Interstate 5, with San Francisco people usually preferring to stay on Hwy 152 through Los Banos after crossing Pacheco Pass. If you drive fast, staying on I-5 as long as possible can save time and you might want to take Hwy 198 from Harris Ranch through Lemoore to Visalia. Others, who left the Bay Area on I-508/I-205, may prefer to take Hwy 120 from I-5 to Hwy 99... but I've seen stop-and-go traffic on Hwy 99 during rush hour, so I tend to stay on I-5 as much as possible. If you are going as far south as Bakersfield, I-5 to Hwy 46 (through Wasco) seems to be the fastest crossover (since Hwy 58 has more stoplights).
The west side reservoirs (Edison, Florence, Courtright, Wishon) are all approached through Prather and Shaver Lake (Hwy 168). There are several ways to get to Prather (via Madera or Fresno), depending on whether you're approaching from the south or north. From Shaver Lake, you continue to the reservoirs via Dinkey Creek or Kaiser Pass. Sequoia / Kings Canyon National Park can be approached through Fresno and The Wye (Hwy 180) or Visalia and Three Rivers (Hwy 198), but keep in mind that 198 is very winding and may be closed in winter.
Central Valley Highways (click on heavy lines or scroll down for links)|
See below for the Western Sierra trailheads these roads reach.
|link to route details||comments|
|Pacheco Pass||from the Bay Area (Hwy 101 in Gilroy to Hwy 99 via Hwy 152)|
|Fresno and Madera||Hwy 41 to Oakhurst for Chiquito Pass, Clover Meadow, Mammoth/Isberg Pass trailheads
Hwy 145 or Hwy 168 to Prather and Shaver Lake, access to the main western reservoirs
Hwy 180 (re-routed in 2010) to The Wye for northern Sequoia and Kings Canyon
|Visalia to Three Rivers||Hwy 198 to southern Sequoia, Mineral King, South Fork Kaweah River|