Take your time and enjoy the back roads of Calaveras County
Calaveritas Road in San Andreas, California makes the perfect starting point for upcountry bike rides in the Central Sierra. Destinations include the tiny towns of Mountain Ranch and Sheep Ranch, as well as the “big cities” of Angels Camp and Murphy’s.
To get to Calaveritas Road, start at the San Andreas Government Center, cross Mountain Ranch Road and head east on Calaveritas Road. You’ll travel briefly through a small neighborhood, but within 15 minutes the road scenery opens to open ranch land. In about 6 miles, the road descends and crosses an old bridge into the small Goldrush town of Calaveritas.
Calaveritas is a gold mining camp founded in 1849 by Mexicans. During the height of the gold rush, the town flourished, complete with stores, saloons, gambling houses and Fandango dance halls. The legendary Joaquin Murietta, a vaquero, gold miner and peace-loving man driven to seek revenge, is reported to have frequently visited the Fandango Halls and gambling house.
From Calaveritas Road, you can turn left on Old Gulch Road towards Mountain Ranch for an out-and-back ride, or continue on Calaveritas Road to take Dog Town Road into Angels Camp (the only incorporated town in Calaveras county). The scenery is California at its best: vineyards, creeks, oaks, and to the east, views of foothills above Angels Camp and mountain peaks of the High Sierra.
This ride, with an elevation gain of 1,500 feet and several hill climbs, is a good ride for experienced cyclists. Vehicle traffic is infrequent because this road is not a popular travel route. Most vehicles use Highway 49, which is too dangerous for cycling. Be aware that the road surface on Dogtown Road is rough and be sure to have supplies for your own tire repair.
If the elevation gain is too much for you, or you just want to relax while you ride, try an electric-assist bike. I recently rode the 15-mile route from San Andreas to Angels Camp on a VanMoof Electric Bike. I traveled the 15 miles at a remarkable 15 miles per hour average speed. The ride took its toll. At the end of my ride I had only 23% of my battery remaining!
I’ve listed and mapped two popular route options from Calaveritas Road— An out-and-back ride along Old Gulch Road and a ride to Angels Camp.
Old Gulch Road https://www.mapmyride.com/routes/view/4038164467
Bike Ride Safety in the Motherlode
Listen and watch for ranch trucks, local residents and delivery trucks.
Watch for deer, snakes, dead animals and fallen tree debris.
Use caution on shady and wet pavement.
Wave and be friendly to local residents and ranchers.
Don’t ride in the center of the road. Allow vehicles to pass.
On descents, stay in the right lane. Don’t ride close to mid road
Watch for steep hillside drops
Bring a map and let someone know where you’re going. Cell phone service is spotty to non-existent in the foothills and mountains.
Report Road SAFETY Repairs or Unsafe Driver License Plate Information,
MOTHERLODE BICYCLE COALITION https://motherlodebike.org/contact/