THE COMBINED PACIFIC GRADE/EBBETTS PASS WEB PAGE
The left column details our original ride over Pacific Grade and Ebbetts Pass, back in September 1998. The right column shows our second ride, June 10th, 2001. Since then we've done this ride again, October 25, 2009. Pictures of that ride are available on our Picasa Google site here. I'll update and summarize here-
Lodging in Bear Valley has changed; the Red Dog Lodge apparently ceased to exist a few years back (most Google references go to our own website). You can get rooms at the much-fancier Bear Valley Lodge, at a much-fancier price, $95+. We decided to spend the night in Angel's Camp instead, at the very affordable ($60) Gold Country Inn. The place appears a bit funky on the outside, but management was very friendly and the room was nicer than expected. There are other options in Angels Camp as well, more conventional and higher-priced, such as the Best Western ($125), and another property with "character" that we've stayed in the past, the Jumping Frog ($80). I'd have no problem staying at the Gold Country Inn again.
It's just over an hour's drive from Angels Camp to Bear Valley. That works out pretty well; eat breakfast in Angels Camp, drive up and you're ready to go.
There's lots of parking at Bear Valley (it's a ski resort after all, and doesn't get the sort of business in the summer it sees in the winter, unless there's a special event going on). The route is simple. From Bear Valley, head out to the main highway and go UP. Whenever in doubt, always go up and you'll probably be going the right way. Funny how that is with my rides.
Water cannot be counted on anywhere during this ride, unless you head all the way to Markleeville. Campgrounds are notorious for working water; during prime camping season it's usually running, but it seems to be shut off in early fall, possibly to keep pipes from freezing. Two large water bottles are possibly not enough for this ride, especially for someone pushing their limits. I carried extra water in a handlebar bag.
We chose to turn around at the ranch you come to on the east side of Ebbetts, after it flattens out. This will be about 2.3 miles short of the turnoff for Wolf Creek Campground that we had used before, and about 300ft higher (6300ft instead of 6000ft). You still get a 2500ft climb back up to the top!
If the Lake Alpine resort (a few miles east of Bear Valley) is closed, there are no pay showers available before the long drive home. You might consider bringing along a supply of "wet ones" (diaper wipes) to freshen up a bit.
Gearing- I'm running a "compact" double, 50/34 up front with a 12-27 in back. And I enjoy climbing. If steep hills are challenging to you, a triple crank might be something to consider. However, my son, who's pretty, er, sturdy, made it up without ever using his small chainring, so his lowest gear was a 39/27. The steepest sections don't go on forever, so if you have to walk a bit, you can. --Mike--