Alpine: Alta Alpina-Riding the Wild Sierra-Kingsbury-Luther-Blue Lakes

Saturday, June 28, 2014

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Our participation in today’s Alta Alpina Challenge caps off our Alpine cycling tour. This event offers 5 different routes from the easy foothill Fun Ride to the Wild Sierra Metric and Wild Sierra Century to the 5 Pass Challenge and the ultimate 8 Pass Challenge. You can also customize the ride by choosing your favorite passes; Kingsbury, Luther, Carson, Ebbetts, Monitor and Blue Lakes.

In keeping with our “less is more” concept for cycling this year, our master plan is to keep it simple by riding 3 passes-Kingsbury, Luther, Carson and Blue Lakes Rd. The combined route is 109 miles with 10,000′ of climbing.

We exit Turtle Rock Park and head south on CA-89. The road opens up to magnificent views of the Sierra Nevada Mountains set aglow by the early morning sun-WOW!

Diamond Valley Rd takes us through the woods out to the gorgeous open valley. The rolling terrain rounds the foothills with exquisite views of the expansive Diamond Valley.

The low morning sun casts a stream of warmth across the entire valley which creates fun shadows; it’s a wonderful way to begin a ride!

The road goes pass the Hung A Lel Ti Community of the Washoe Indian Tribe before dropping down into Carson Valley.

We cross CA-88 onto Foothill Rd/Fredericksburg Rd; this road runs along the flat foothills flanked by the soaring mountains to the west and the gorgeous Carson Valley to the east.

The turn on Foothiil Rd/NV-206 takes us 5.4 miles north pass a few residential communities and ranches. The flat stretch on Fredericksburg and Foothill is a great warm up to the upcoming climb on Kingsbury Grade Rd. 

NV-207 lower Kingsbury Grade Rest Stop:

Kingsbury Grade up to Daggett Pass is 8 miles long; it’s a beautiful climb with great pavement and wide shoulders. The first half mile begins with gentle 2.5-3% grades and fabulous views of Carson Valley and Pine Nut Mountains!

Once we wind up through the gap, the road tilts up and continues with gradient ranges of 6-9%.

The road snakes up the mountain with superb views of the alpine dense woodands around Toiyabe National Forest.


Kingsbury Grade Rd continues up along the rocky slopes of the mountain to the Daggett Pass summit.

Queensbury Rest Stop at Summit Village: The ladies are dressed up to the nines-watch out!

Kingsbury Grade is a phenomenal fun descent with sweeping turns and awesome views! There are a couple of stretches where you can really pick up speed-use caution!

At the bottom of Kingsbury, we reverse our way back on the flatlands on Foothill and Fredericksburg Rd.

The climb up Emigrant Trail is 3.0 miles with gradient ranges of 5-8%; this less traveled road sits above CA-88 with fantastic valley views.

Emigrant Trail Rest Stop:

We drop down from Emigrant Trail onto CA-88 W for the climb up through scenic Woodfords Canyon. This stretch of road follows the Pony Express trail for 6.5 miles up to Hope Valley and Picketts Junction with gradient ranges of 6-9%.

Remember to look around and take in the majestic soaring peaks of the rugged mountains and alpine mixed conifer woodlands.

CA-88 W winds up through the rocky canyon to the false summit at Kit Carson Campground and continues on pass Hope Valley Resort and Sorensens.

The road opens up to views of Horse Meadow as you near Picketts Junction.

The climb up to the summit of Luther Pass on CA-89 N is 2.8 miles with gradient ranges of 5-9%. It’s a nice climb with wonderful views of the grassy river meadows and endless mountain peaks and forests.

Luther Pass Rest Stop:

We descend Luther Pass Rd back into Hope Valley and head west on CA-88 for the next 2.5 flat miles. Look around and enjoy the natural beauty of this outdoor paradise!

At this point, strong winds are blowing from the west and we decide to opt out of climbing up Carson Pass; in our minds, it’s not necessary! The beauty of a customized route is that you can choose to do more or do less! With the change in plan, we decide to take our time going up Blue Lakes Rd and enjoy the scenery!

Blue Lakes Rd is like a hidden gem in Alpine County; everyone wants to climb Ebbetts, Monitor and Carson and usually miss this quiet scenic road. The first two dead flat miles goes through the beautiful Hope Valley with glorious views of the alpine meadows and towering mountain peaks.

Blue Lakes Rd exits Hope Valley and begins to climb for the next 6.8 miles with gradient ranges of 5-9%. The road winds upwards between rocky walled slopes and dense woodlands to the flat wide open grassy meadows around Faith Valley.

The road tilts up again through dense woodlands to the beautiful green meadows and private ranchlands around Charity Valley.

The climb out of Charity Valley leads up to open views of the high mountain and alpine forests to the summit at Border Ruffian Flat.

We descend Blue Lakes Rd down to Tamarack Junction and ride along the valley before dropping down to Blue Lakes.

Blue Lakes Rest Stop:

We exit Blue Lakes and climb out from Tamarack Junction back up to the summit at Border Ruffian Flat.

From the summit it’s a fast rolling descent back down into Hope Valley.

CA-88 E leads us back to Picketts Junction for the fast sweeping descent through Woodfords Canyon.

The rolling climb on CA-89 S takes us back to the start/finish at Turtle Rock Park.

At the end of the ride, we rode more than a metric century and fell just under a full century with 98 miles and 8406′ of climbing. In my book, that’s still plenty!

Post ride meal:

The Alta Alpina Cycling Club puts on a wonderful event with outstanding volunteer support! Try it out next year-set a goal and create your own challenge or pick one of four popular routes available. It’s wildly fun! The scenery is not too bad either with breathtaking views of the high alpine mountains, valley meadows, dense forests and steep canyons.

The mountains are calling and I must go.  ~John Muir

Garmin Stats:
98.0 Miles with 8406′ of elevation gain
Max elevation: 7953′
Max grade: 9%
Terrain: Extremely Hilly

Weather: Sunny and hot with clear blue skies. Temps ranged from 39F in the morning to an afternoon high of 96F. NW winds with 75% humidity.

Click here to view the interactive route map & elevation profile


Follow this route for today’s ride: