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Challenger Adventures in the Coast Range Part 3; Challenging the Nacimiento-Fergusson Road

Continuing from I left off on Part 2, I had to either backtrack to Carmel due to the Mud Creek Slide closure on CA 1 or take the Nacimiento-Fergusson Road east over the Santa Lucia Range.  Since the Nacimiento-Fergusson Road is one of the most scenic roadways in California the choice to head east was obvious.






The Nacimiento-Fergusson Road is a 24.2 mile road that connect CA 1 to Fort Hunter Liggett.  As I mentioned in the previous blog, the Nacimiento-Fergusson Road as it presently exists was completed sometime between 1935-1938.  About two-thirds of the Nacimiento-Fergusson Road is a wide single lane roadway with no center line.  At the western junction the Nacimiento-Fergusson Road is barely signed from CA 1 and is easily missed.  There is a warning about Army Range testing at Fort Hunter Liggett that is posted to the left of the below picture.





The Nacimiento-Fergusson Road initially follows a steep canyon above Mill Creek.  The first 7 miles of the Nacimiento-Fergusson Road is a steep ascent to approximately 2,700 feet above sea level.  Initial signage indicates distances to campgrounds but the boundary for Fort Hunter Liggett is 15 miles to the east.






Before the road turns east there is a huge overlook of CA 1 in both north/south directions.  The view to the south is usually populated by cars traveling up the coast but with the Mud Creek Slide there was not a single one to be seen.






The road turns east looking up the canyon above mill creek.  The roadway here I believe has a 14% grade for awhile and has brief passing lanes. 





The ascent above Mill Creek isn't straight, the Nacimiento-Fergusson Road turns west on a quick hairpin before cutting north.






The road continues north before another hairpin that takes it south.  The southward road turns east again after reaching the canyon above mill creek.






Above Mill Creek the Nacimiento-Fergusson Road is a direct easterly shot for a couple miles.  The views above the ocean and canyon below are huge and wide.  The road is narrow but easy enough to negotiate with the generous uphill sight-line.








There is a brief slide repair zone that was washed out in the winter rains earlier this year.  Nobody apparently came to pick up the construction signs from Los Padres National Forest.






Past the small forest grove I stopped above the cliffs on a pull-out to get a view of the ocean and canyon below.  The Challenger made the uphill drive nice and easy but it still wasn't exactly a fast drive.







Hell of a view looking uphill with the road clinging to the cliffs.





Apparently I had been out running a cold weather front which had brought fog in by the turnout at the top of the canyon.






The last segment of the 7 mile ascent turns northward away from Mill Creek towards the Coast Ridge Trail.


There is one final view of the ocean before it is obscured from view by the mountains.


The ascent up the Nacimiento-Fergusson Road ends at an approximately 2,700 foot pass at the junction of the Coast Ridge Trail. 



Back in June there was construction/cautionary signage at the summit directing traffic to CA 1.  It seems that the signs have been recycled into make shift US 101 shields which might be among the worst home-made signage ever made.  Essentially the US 101 signs were made with a stencil and spray paint with no shield crest to boot.  Someone actually drew a smiley face on one of the shields which made the haggard signage even more absurd.  Really the shields ought to be replaced with "To County Route G14" shields since it does have be utilized to reach US 101.









Nacimiento Station isn't really one mile east of the summit, I would say a third of a mile at best.





The Nacimiento-Fergusson Road begins to descend in elevation as it begins to approach the Nacimiento River.  There are some hairpins but generally the roadway is much more easier to drive east to Fort Hunter Liggett.





There is a huge vista of the canyon above the Nacimiento River overlooking much of the higher peaks of the Santa Lucia Range.






There is a couple more hairpins before the road meets the Nacimiento River at a small bridge crossing at approximately 1,500 feet above sea level.







East from the Nacimiento River to Fort Hunter Liggett the Nacimiento-Fergusson Road widens out and can be easily traversed at 35-40 MPH as opposed to the previous 20-25 MPH.  The road passes the Ponderosa Campground before passing through a gate at Fort Hunter Liggett.






Fort Hunter Liggett is an Army Training ground which is often used for live fire exercises.  The Nacimiento-Fergusson Road can be closed occasionally for a lengthy period of time which is why I generally call the base security station a day in advance to see if there will be any closures.  Fort Hunter Liggett was created in 1940 which is likely why the Nacimiento-Fergusson Road was kept open to the public since it dates back to the late 1930s.  The Nacimiento-Fergusson Road cuts away from the Nacimiento River and crosses a one-lane bridge before the eastern terminus at Mission Road.  In total I only encountered 5 cars heading westbound on the Nacimiento-Fergusson Road before I reached the eastern terminus.










My next destination was the western segment of CA 198.  I used G14/Jolon Road, San Lucas Road, and Lockwood-San Lucas Road to cross the 1915 San Lucas Bridge over the Salinas River to reach the western terminus of CA 198.












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