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Old 12-18-2012, 09:39 AM   #1
HardWorkingDog OP
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Road Conditions along the San Andreas Fault Zone?

I'm heading south from the SF Bay area after Christmas, eventual destination Baja. Planning on taking the back roads and scenic routes...

I'd like to ride down through Clear Creak, Parkfield and the Carrizo Plain, and then head east (DV) before resuming southward (Mojave, JT, Baja). With all the rains we've had and are forecast for the next 10 days I'm wondering if the dirt road parts I've got planned are passable. Don't want to end up stuck in the mud on Day 2, we've got a long road ahead of us.

I realized they're all more or less along the San Andreas fault...not a coincidence.

Anyone know the conditions of these (dirt) roads?

Browns Valley Road from Santa Anita Road to Panoche Road.
Clear Creek Road from New Idria to Coalinga Road.
Parkfield Grade from the junction at 198 south to Parkfield.
Elkhorn Road and the Grade southeast out to 33 along the Carrizo Plain.

Don't mind a little mud, but don't want to get in an "impassable" situation...I've been in mud that was so thick and sticky my rear wheel locked up from packed mud between the tire and swingarm. If that's what we're facing I'll just stay on pavement through here.

Thanks!
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Old 12-18-2012, 10:38 AM   #2
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Regarding Elkhorn Grade.........

There can be mud puddles on the road but the kind that sneak up on you when you're coming round the bend! Watch your speed and you'll be fine.

The mud you have to watch out for (as in sticky) is in between Elkhorn Grade and Soda Lake Rd. There are 4 or 5 cross roads that go down to the bottom of the valley and they can have the quick sand type mud you don't want.
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Old 12-18-2012, 11:08 AM   #3
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Good to know, thanks.
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Old 12-18-2012, 04:39 PM   #4
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Purely as an altruistic gesture to help out a fellow inmate, not because it was the first dry day in ages and I was itching to ride, I checked out Brown's Valley Road today. I've never actually ridden it before, despite living and riding around here for 30 years or so. It's rained a lot recently but it seems to drain well and is open to direct sun just about everywhere (ie no trees) and was drying quickly today. It was a little greasy on top in spots, but doesn't look like the kind of road that would get to boggy. I had no trouble with my VStrom with a pretty worn rear tire.

I haven't ridden Clear Creek in winter for 20 years or so, but there used to be spots that were pretty bad. And I've never been on Parkfield Grade in winter either, but I could imagine some of the steeper spots (downhill southbound) might be fun.

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Old 12-18-2012, 05:52 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dman View Post
Purely as an altruistic gesture to help out a fellow inmate...


Thanks!
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Old 12-18-2012, 06:45 PM   #6
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BTW, if I get my Christmas shopping done I may have time to check out Clear Creek ... at least part of the way (on my DR not my Strom). As cold as it's been the last few days, ice may be more of an issue than mud. It was about 44 degrees and windy as heck on Brown's Valley at 1PM today .... at least one VStrom-sized tumbleweed blew in front of me (as well as a similar sized deer on Santa Ana Valley).

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Old 12-18-2012, 07:00 PM   #7
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BTW#2, I was looking at some other threads about Brown's Valley and there was mention of a water crossing near the Panoche Road end. It was dry as a bone today. There's been lots of rain, maybe not much runoff yet? Or the road has changed ... I recall a low spot through a drainage but nothing radical.

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Old 12-20-2012, 10:07 PM   #8
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Clear Creek as long as it hasn't rained in 3 or 4 days should be fine. The main road is drains well. It's just as rutted and busted up now as it was a year and a half ago. If it's anywhere near 55 along Panoche or Coalinga Rd, you can expect Ice on the back side of Clear Creek Rd. coming down into New Idria and that's where it will be slick too. I usually ride through there a couple times in the winter.

You may also consider riding out Panoche Rd./ Jackass Grade. One water crossing near New Idria Rd.-Panoche Rd. junction but the rest is good condition. I've never ridden it in wet conditions. I realize you may be bypassing this part as you're probably planning to ride E-W through Clear Creek.


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Old 12-21-2012, 12:09 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by goldentaco View Post
...If it's anywhere near 55 along Panoche or Coalinga Rd, you can expect Ice on the back side of Clear Creek Rd. coming down into New Idria and that's where it will be slick too...
Thanks, not too sure what you mean by "55" here?

It looks like taking Panoche would take us out into the valley pretty far north of Lake Isabella, although that does look like a good way to get into Sequoia/Kings Cyn.
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Old 12-23-2012, 12:55 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HardWorkingDog View Post
Thanks, not too sure what you mean by "55" here?

It looks like taking Panoche would take us out into the valley pretty far north of Lake Isabella, although that does look like a good way to get into Sequoia/Kings Cyn.

I meant to say Temps 55F.

Panoche/Jackass Grade I'll take to I5. I haven't taken it into the Valley. It's basically a dirt Freeway...kind of fun for 60mph dirt blasts from turn to turn. Probably won't work with your routing, you'd have to skip Browns Valley and take I5 for about 80 miles.

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