Ebbetts Pass - Photo Credit: @andreaheyfron
Fall is a great time for a scenic drive, and California’s National Scenic Byways and Scenic Highways provide guaranteed enjoyment for the eyes plus limitless opportunities for hiking with your dog in gorgeous country. Study maps and guides before you go—and, as wildfire season continues, be sure to check out air quality predictions, as well. Here are three scenic routes that are sure to rearrange your senses and set tails a-waggin'.
• Ebbetts Pass National Scenic Byway: Stretching 61 miles on highways 4 and 89 in Calaveras and Alpine counties, this twisting byway, which starts at Calaveras Big Trees State Park near Arnold, turns into a narrow asphalt ribbon near the 8,730-foot summit of the pass. Along the way, you’ll take in glacially carved valleys and canyons, rugged granite ridges and pretty alpine lakes. Jumping-off spots include the Bear Valley resort area and a trailhead for one of the most scenic sections of the Pacific Crest Trail, a 2.650-mile footpath stretching from Canada to Mexico.
• Tioga / Big Oak Flat Road: The “back door” to Yosemite National Park is a 64-mile passage over the Sierra Nevada that takes in an elevation change of more than a mile and crosses Tioga Pass, highest automobile pass in the state at 9,945 feet. Drive it either way. Heading east to west, you’ll start in Lee Vining at the junction of Highways 120 and 395 (a very scenic route in itself). The byway ends at the park’s Big Oak Flat entrance on Highway 120 in Tuolumne County. (Note: Dogs are allowed at picnic areas in the park, but not on dirt trails. Bring lunch and make a day of it; this is one scenic drive you don’t want to miss! Entrance fee to the park, by the way, is $35 per vehicle.)
• Volcanic Legacy Scenic Byway: Although not exactly in the “High Sierra,” this 500-mile route through the lower Cascade range (which begins where the Sierra Nevada peters out) can be done in bits and pieces or over the course of a three- to five-day vacation. It travels from Lake Almanor, east of Redding, north to Crater Lake National Park in southern Oregon, passing many scenic wonders along the way. Mount Shasta and Lassen Volcanic National Park are just two awe-inspiring points of interest on the route, which zig-zags along half a dozen highways.
Photo Credit: @andreaheyfron