Groveland East or West
Submitted by Nikki Grimes, MLBC Board Member
PHOTO COURTESY of Visit California-Mason Trinca
Starting at the Groveland Airport on Elderberry Way, just off Ferretti Road, there are two bike route choices…east or west.
The west route takes you through the community of Pine Mountain Lake. This route is safer, the busier, faster traffic is on Ferretti Road. That’s the good news.
The bad news is some of the climbs within the community are rather steep but then portions of Ferretti Road are steep too. If you know what’s coming, you can pick up speed on the downhill and gear down for the upcoming climb.
The great part of the west route are the views of Pine Mountain Lake!
Eventually, this route leads to Hwy 120 where you then head east. The highway climbs for a bit before a nice downhill, then another longer climb. It’s fairly level, not steep for a distance before the climb and drop pattern pops up again.
For the most part, the shoulders are wide on this stretch of Highway 120. Unfortunately, Caltrans recently repaved Highway 120 but then added rumble strips so cyclists need to be alert and avoid the rumble strips.
In winter, Caltrans uses decomposed granite on the road for icy road conditions. This, of course, does not stay on the road but accumulates in the rumble strips and shoulder so another hazard of which cyclists need to be aware.
Hwy 120 is “cleaner” in the late spring, summer and fall.
There are some side roads that parallel Hwy 120 which are great options. Old Hwy 120 is one of these. The first part is pleasant but then…a very steep climb back to Hwy 120. If you like challenges, you got it! Not my cup of tea but a good strength workout for not too long of a distance.
The other side roads are basically the same road with different names. East Sprague Road initially drops but the climb out isn’t too tough. It puts you alongside a creek, passes a few homes, and is quieter than the main highway although the road is rough. It changes names becoming Elmore, then Sutton, then Smith Station Road before returning to Hwy 120.
About seven miles down Hwy 120, you reach the eastern end of Ferretti Road. If you make a left turn, it takes you back to where you began. Total distance is just over 20 miles.
If you want more miles, don’t make that left turn and continue riding east on Hwy 120. Turn right into Groveland Ranger Station for a challenging climb up to The Pines Campground. At the Ranger Station, there are flush toilets and running water. The Ranger Station itself has a nice faucet for refilling water bottles but they are not open on weekends. (Unless they are closed due to COVID-19 pandemic). Continue on this road and it gets you back to Hwy 120 again.
A nice downhill takes you into the town of Buck Meadows. During spring through fall, the Lucky Buck Restaurant is open. Just a little further and you arrive at the Rim of the World, a vista point which also has some interesting history information down a short walkway. This is near where the Rim Fire started in 2013. There is a post asking you to take a picture and send it to #rimfire01 so the collectors of information can keep track of how the area is recovering after that blaze.
After a break here, one can either continue east all the way to the entrance of Yosemite National Park or turn around and follow Hwy 120 back to Ferretti Road and back to the airport where the ride began. If you turn around here, your total distance will be about 30 miles with about 2600’ of climbing.