Ebbetts Pass

California Alps — Ebbetts Pass: This is one of the 3 passes of the legendary Death Ride (www.deathride.com), and wins for “best scenery”. Here we describe the ride starting in Markleeville (elev. 5500). Park in the lot to your left just past the general store by the county buildings, where you’ll find public bathrooms – there’s water at the park across the street. It’s a 38 mile out and back from Markleeville to the top of Ebbetts Pass (elev. 8730). You can extend your out and back to 62 miles by riding over Ebbetts to Lake Alpine (elev. 7540), where you can find water and food. There’s no water or services at the summit. The first 12 miles are a gradual climb along the Carson River. At about the 12 mile mark, just after you cross over a cattle guard there’s a campground to your right that’ll have water during camping season. After the campground, the steep stuff starts . . . the great thing about the climb is that it gets very little traffic, and no trucks. Bring your camera for this one!


 

Markleeville-Alpine Lake

This is one of the classic rides in the Sierra Nevada, crossing not just one but two very steep, challenging, and scenic passes on the way to a beautiful lake near the scenic ski town of Bear Valley, CA. It starts in Markleeville, CA, of Death Ride fame, the same location as our Markleeville/Monitor/Ebbetts Pass ride (http://www.mapmyride.com/routes/view/44551684). Start by heading south from Truckee to the little hamlet of Markleeville, the county seat of Alpine County, the smallest in population in all of California. West shore of Tahoe, east shore, or down through Minden, you can choose your own driving route, but they're all scenic. Park in Markleeville. This ride will start along Hwy 89, and at the junction with Monitor Pass it will become Hwy 4. You'll have a few miles of gently ascending terrain along the Silver Fork of the Carson River. After about 5 miles, the route will get abruptly steep. There is a campground soon where you can sometimes refill your water bottle, as there are no other spots along the entire route. Some of the next few switchbacks are some of the steepest in the Sierra. After a few miles, you'll cross over a small rise through some aspen trees, and the terrain will change to a more alpine setting. The ascent continues however, past a scenic lake and more staircase climbs until you reach Ebbetts Pass at almost 8,700 feet, one of the highest road crossings in the entire Sierra. Enjoy the long descent down to Hermit Valley (enjoy it now, as you won't be going quite as fast on the return). After a creek crossing, get ready for the shorter, but even steeper climb up Pacific Grade, which has some switchbacks that are reminiscent of the Giro D'Italia. Mosquito Lake at the top is a welcome site, as the rest of the route to Lake Alpine is rolling terrain, with a steep downhill to the lake. Ride alongside the lake shore for a mile, then turn sharply uphill into the driveway for the Lake Alpine Store and restaurant on your right. Definitely refuel here with water, snacks, and maybe even lunch if you're on a leisurely schedule, but don't overdo it, because the climb back out from Lake Alpine starts all too soon. (Those wanting a little more distance can head another 3 miles down to the ski tow of Bear Valley.) It's not as steep as the eastern side of Pacific Grade, but your legs will notice the burn quickly. Once past Mosquito Lake , be careful on the steep descent (this pass was actually used as part of the Death Ride awhile back.) Back in Hermit Valley, get ready for the steady, sometimes hot climb back to the top of Ebbetts Pass. At the pass, take a quick break and be ready for the very long, sometimes steep, and narrow ride all the way back to Markleeville, a drop of over 3,000 ft.!

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