Northern California July 02, 2017
The 10 Best Backroads In Northern California For A Long Scenic Drive
We’ve all heard it a million times. It’s about the journey, not the destination. It may be a cliche, but there is seriously nothing better than driving down a Northern California backroad with the windows rolled down and the wind in your hair.
Here’s our favorite 11 backroads that we can’t get enough of in Northern California. Enjoy the drive!
1. U.S. Route 395
Although not all of it is located in Northern California, this route's 557 mile length makes it the longest scenic road on this list. It crosses into the Northern reaches of the Sierra and the Southern Cascades North of Tahoe. You will be driving around with your jaw hanging loose because of the incredible mountain views to be glimpsed on this route.
2. California State Route 3
Designated by CalTrans as a scenic highway, most of this road has been part of the state highway system since 1933. It passes through the Shasta-Trinity National Forest as well as the Whiskeytown-Shasta-Trinity National Recreation Area, so you know it's bound to be beautiful.
3. U.S. Route 199
This route extends north past the Oregon border, but it's well worth taking your time on the California stretch. It begins off Highway 101 northeast of Crescent City and offers unparalleled views of the Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park.
4. Hwy. 36
Running east-west, Highway 36 is a great route to take to see the best of Northern California from Susanville to Humboldt County. Highlights along this route include the Mad River andTrinity National Forest. It's officially eligible to become a CalTrans scenic highway, although no designation has been bestowed on it yet.
5. California Route 89
This scenic alpine drive features a long and winding road popular only among those who like to get out in the mountains and away from it all. Spanning from the Lake Tahoe region all the way to Lassen Volcanic National Park and beyond, this long highway will take you to some of the most jaw dropping scenery in Northern California.
6. California State Route 49 — the Gold Country Highway
Named for the 49ers that headed out west for the Gold Rush, Highway 49 runs North-South through gold country. It features long stretches without any large towns, historic mining communities, and beautiful views of the gold laden rivers of the Sierra Nevada Foothills. It's definitely a drive worth savoring.
7. State Route 299/ Trinity Scenic Byway
Part of SR 299 is the Trinity Scenic Byway, a National Forest Scenic Byway. It runs across the northern part of California from Arcata all the way to Nevada. It's a historic route and in many places, especially in Trinity County, the old roadway can be seen beside the new.
8. California State Route 70/ Feather River Scenic Byway.
This scenic highway follows the Feather River and connects Sacramento and surrounding areas with U.S. Route 395. The Feather River Scenic Byway parallels the Western Pacific Railroad's Feather River Route up through the breathtaking and curvy canyon. You'll notice a ton of granite boulders interspersed throughout the rushing white water river. It's lovely.
9. Ebbets Pass, Alpine County
This historic high mountain pass over the Sierra Nevada is located in Alpine County, the least populated county in California. It was named after John Ebbetts and is a registered as a California Historical Landmark. The famous Pacific Crest Trail makes it way through this alpine setting, which is as remote as it is beautiful.
10. California State Route 273, Redding to Anderson
This Shasta County state highway was once part of historic Route 99. It parallels Interstate 5 and offers a glimpse into small towns in Northern California. One of the shortest routes on this list, it's a great alternative road through the region.
What did you think of this list of fun Northern California backroads? Would you add any roads or byways to this list if you could?