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Discussion Starter #1
Some friends and I are thinking of doing a gold country driving tour next weekend (sat march 8). We're interested in great driving roads, and also taking breaks with some historical landmarks along the way.

Anybody have any favorite driving roads in gold country?

I'm looking at a map, thinking roughly Hwy 49 from Mariposa to Grass Valley, but I'm leery that Hwy 49 itself is traffic-y and slow going. It'd be sweet to find lesser-travelled routes in that same area, but I've just never really been over there to drive.

If any of you could steer us in the right direction to ensure we have a great day, and not trailing RVs all day, we'd sure appreciate it!

Thanks!
 

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An absolute MUST STOP for any Lotus enthusiast is a stop in Lotus, California!!!

Around Coloma try Mosquito and Rock Creek roads.

Cheers,
Kiyoshi
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Kiyoshi--thanks! We'll definitely hit those up. I'm just not sure if 49 will be that great to drive or not, so we're looking to find those side routes that have less traffic and more twists!
 

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I find 49 to be a great scenic road, but not one for spirited driving. But there are some very good roads connecting to it.
 

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Where to begin...

I grew up in Grass Valley, so I know that part of the gold country pretty well. Depending upon how much stamina you have, here are a few suggestions.

As you approach Auburn on 49, as you cross the river, go right on old foresthill road, not left as most will do, (great stretch), take that up until it hits Foresthill road, turn right, fast sweeping wonderful stretch of road out to Foresthill. Past Foresthill at the Y, go right on Mosquito Ridge Rd - this is a long loop,the road is super-technical, goes for many miles with NO traffic, has tight and open sections of curves, and loops back into Forest hill road. As you come back on Forest hill road, make a right on sugar pine road, which will take you to Iowa hill and eventually back to I80 - again, mosquito ridge and Sugar pine are tight, technical, curve a minute roads with no traffic, but be careful, as they are unforgiving of mistakes.
At this point you can go north on 80 to Colfax and take 174 to Grass Valley, or go south on 80 to the Meadow Vista exit, go right toward meadow vista on Placer Hills Road - take Placer hills back up to Colfax (fun section) and then take 174, or some miles into Placer hills road, turn right on Dog Bar, which is another tight, challenging road that will take you all the way over to 49 just south of Grass Valley.
From Grass Valley I recommend 49 to Downieville, then on to Sierra City (great road, great scenery if you go early on a sat or sun morning, no traffic), past Sierra city a couple miles turn left at Bassetts and take Gold Lake HWY up and over the hill to 89 - turn around and go back to Bassetts (you'll never drive your elise faster in corners on the street) - again, zero traffic, perfect pavement, great views. At Bassetts again go left and enjoy another great section that leads all the way down to 89 (stop at the valley overlook, if you don't miss it...). Take 89 to 80. From there you have a lot of options (around the lake to 50 and home, or 50 to 89 to 88 at Sornesens,88 to Mormon Emigrant Trail (NF-5), for truly remote motoring (great road in the middle of nowhere that goes back to 50), or back home using 88, etc (cutting back over to 50 at some point is best, as 88 gets a lot of traffic in the valley and isn't as quick a return to the bay area).
If you have questions, feel free to pm me. Make sure you gas up before Mosquito Ridge, etc and have fun.

tim
 

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I live in the Grass Valley area so I echo timmp's comments. Hwy 49 is great north of GV or south of Auburn early in the morning, but then you get stuck behind the RVs and there is nowhere to pass. There are lots of nice little towns along the way to stop at though (including Lotus).

Pool Station Road between Hwy 4 and Hwy 49 (near San Andreas) is pretty good too and it doesn't usually have much traffic.

If you're going to be in the GV area let me know and maybe we could meet up.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Awesome, you guys da best!

And Tim, thanks for all the details! I may drop you a line later in the week when I have a chance to get a map out and trace the routes you're talking about. Nice to see a fellow Sport Elise! I'm #24.

Domino, I don't think we'll make it quite up to grass valley, but if you wanted to come down to Mariposa you're more than welcome to join us.
 

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Sport Elise country!

Mtribe:

49 from mariposa can definately be traffic-bound, and it is difficult to pass on 49....

If you make it to the Auburn area and take the roads in that region that I recommended, you'll have an awesome drive - more corners and less traffic than anywhere I've ever driven.

When you have more time, definately drive from Nevada City on 49 all the way to 89, taking in the Bassetts "detour" I described. That might be the best stretch of road in California - a rare combo of great scenery, good road surface, and every kind of corner you can imagine.

Have fun!

tim
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Hey guys, thanks again for the advice... we went from Mariposa up to Auburn, so we didn't quite have time to try out mosquito, or get up to nevada city. We're itching to go back and go further north, though.

For the record, the stretch of 49 from Mariposa to Sonora was some of the nicest road I've driven. We left Mariposa at 10AM, so there was hardly any traffic. North of Sonora after lunch, there was much more traffic, probably due to time of day.
 
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