Skip to main content

Disaster Tourism Trip Part 5; Muir Woods Road and The Panoramic Highway

After exiting the Robin Williams Tunnel I took US 101/CA 1 north to where the latter split towards Stinson Beach.








The section of CA 1 between Tamalpais Valley and Stinson Beach was closed due to mudslides from the winter storms.  In fact as of 11/30/17 when I'm writing this blog this section of CA 1 is partially closed until the 1st of February 2018.  Given the closure on CA 1 I took the Panoramic Highway over the Marin Hills to get to Stinson Beach.





I haven't been to Muir Woods National Monument since 1993.  Given that I was right on time for the Monument to open I took a turn south on Muir Woods Road.





The drop on Muir Woods Road is absolutely huge with almost sheer cliffs.  I'm not sure what the grade was but it felt close to a good 10%.  The roadway is extremely narrow, possibly too narrow to have a center stripe.







The Muir Woods National Monument dates all the way back to 1908.  The land where the Muir Woods lies was once considered for a reservoir but was granted to the Federal Government in 1907 after eminent domain was threatened.  Unfortunately the Monument wasn't open on time for some reason and I didn't feel like sitting behind a bunch of angry Bay Area residents so I made my way back up Muir Woods Road back to the Panoramic Highway.






The Panoramic Highway is a 11 mile route over the Marin Hills that loops to/from CA 1.  The Panoramic Highway opened as a Marin County toll road in 1933 and appears on the 1935 Division of Highways Marin County Map.

1935 Marin County Map

The San Francisco Gate covered the history of the Panoramic Highway along with it's high rate of crashes back in 1995.

San Francisco Gate on the Panoramic Highway

The route of Panoramic Highway east of Mount Tamalpais follows the generalized path of the Mount Tamalpais-Muir Woods Railroad which ran slightly to the north of the modern roadway.  The Mount Tamalpais-Muir Woods Railroad was a 8.2 mile standard gauge which ran from Mill Valley west to Mount Tamalpais from 1896 to a fire destroyed it in 1930.  The Mount-Tamalpais-Muir Woods Railroad was reportedly one of the most crooked railroads in the world at the time in it as in operation. 

As for the Panoramic Highway itself, the name certainly is fitting considering how many vistas of the ocean it has high up in the Marin Hills.







Really the best view along the Panoramic Highway is of Stinson Beach and the Bolinas Lagoon west of Mount Tamalpais.





The western terminus of the Panoramic Highway is where I picked up CA 1 again to continue north towards Point Reyes.






Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Horseshoe Meadows Road; former California State Route 190 and the legacy of the Lone Pine-Porterville HIgh Sierra Road

This summer I had an opportunity to drive one of the lesser known great roads of California; Horseshoe Meadows Road from Whitney Portal Road westward into Horseshoe Meadows of the Eastern Sierra Nevada Mountains.  Aside from being massive climb into the Eastern Sierra Nevada Mountains the path of Horseshoe Meadows Road was once part of California State Route 190 and was intended to be part of a Trans-Sierra Highway known as the Lone Pine-Porterville High Sierra Road.


Horseshoe Meadows Road is located west of Lone Pine of Inyo County and is 19.7 miles in length.  Horseshoe Meadows Road begins at an approximate elevation of 4,500 feet above sea level at Whitney Portal Road in the Alabama Hills and ends at an elevation of 10,072 feet above sea level in Horseshoe Meadows.  Horseshoe Meadows Road is the second highest paved road in California only behind Rock Creek Road near Tom's Place.  Pjammcycling rates Horseshoe Meadows Road with an average gradient of 6.2% and lists it as th…

History of the Big Oak Flat Road (Yosemite National Park)

This week I hiked much of what was the original alignment of the Big Oak Flat Road which is located to the north of the modern roadway.  Unlike the original alignment of the Wawona Road the Old Big Oak Flat Road is surprisingly intact.


The complete history of the Big Oak Flat Road including the original alignment can be found on a 2002 report from the U.S. Department of Interior on the Old Big Oak Flat Road.

U.S. Department of the Interior on the Old Big Oak Flat Road

The Big Oak Flat Road began construction east from the mining community of Big Oak Flat in towards Yosemite Valley in 1869.  The Big Oak Flat Road was constructed by the Chinese Camp and Yosemite Turnpike Company which had secured the franchise rights for a toll road to the Yosemite Grant (the designation prior to Yosemite National Park).  By the summer of 1871 the Big Oak Flat Road reached the northern cliffs above Yosemite Valley which is when the Chinese Camp and Yosemite Turnpike Company ran out of funding.  After the…

The Tioga Pass Road

Last Summer the Tioga Pass Road over the Sierra Nevada Mountains in Yosemite National Park opened late due to the heavy snow pack from the previous winter.  Approaching the start of July the Park Service finally had cleared the road to Tioga Pass.  That being the case I headed up shortly after the 4th of July holiday during a lull in the tourist season.


The Tioga Pass Road runs from the Big Oak Flat Road at Crane Flat east to US Route 395 ("US 395").  The Tioga Pass Road is largely within the boundary of Yosemite National Park but is maintained by Caltrans as California State Route 120 ("CA 120") east of the Tioga Pass entry station to US 395.  The National Park Service maintained portion of the Tioga Pass Road serve as a implied connection between the two segments of CA 120.  The Tioga Pass Road is the highway mountain pass in California reaching Tioga Pass at 9,945 feet above sea level.



Part 1; the history of the Tioga Pass Road

Tioga Pass first obtained notewort…