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North Fork Road/Road 200

Given that I have been on the CA 41 corridor between Fresno and Yosemite probably close to a hundred times I decided trying a new route south out of Oakhurst on North Fork Road.






Typically I have used Bass Lake Road in the past to get between Oakhurst and North Fork.  I ended up taking Road 426, Road 223, Road 221, Road 226, and Road 222 to Oakhurst over the Teaford Saddle.  In retrospect I wish that I had my camera ready since all the roads I took are particularly nice and ascend to well over 3,500 feet above sea level.  On Road 226 I passed Bandit Town.





Bandit Town isn't an actual settlement, it is an events center meant to look like a Gold Rush era town site.  The overwhelming amount of mining activity in the Sierras was from Mariposa northward towards the Sacramento.


Surprisingly it was actually about 70 F in the low Sierras which is kind of warm for this time of year.  As I was pulling away from Bandit Town I had a close call with this guy.


Navigation signage in Madera County is generally really maintained.  It is very difficult to tell on a map where to turn but the signage standards make navigation easy between Oakhurst and North Fork.


Road 222 crosses through the community of North Fork and continues south to the Fresno County line at the San Joaquin River where it becomes Power House Road.  Power House Road is a lot of fun and has a ton of curves and high grades.


East of North Fork Road 225 heads towards the Mammoth Pool Reservoir far to the northeast on the San Joaquin River Canyon.


North Fork has been around since the 1880s and is the geographic center of California.  North Fork is at an elevation of 2,638 feet and apparently was once a major hub for the lumber industry which used to be common in Madera County.  There is a surprisingly large amount of infrastructure in North Fork despite the town being so remote.  I took Road 222 through North Fork to where it splits towards Prather.




Road 222 splits left at this junction whereas North Fork Road/Road 200 continues straight in a southwest direction towards CA 41.  CA 41 is approximately 16 miles to the southeast.


North Fork Road doesn't have a ton of curves that can't be handled at speed which is likely why the road is signed at 55 MPH throughout it's entirety.


What North Fork Road does lack in sharp curves it makes up for in high grades with several sustained runs of 8% downhill slopes.




There are some nice vistas of the ridges above on the downhill grades.





At a sharp bend over a Fine Gold Creek is a bridge with a construction date from 1947.  It appears that the Minerats Railroad was on the opposite of the creek on what is now a dirt road.



There is definitely an older bridge north of the 1947 structure.  I couldn't see the bridge from the road behind the bushes but can be seen on the Google Image of the area.

https://www.google.com/maps/@37.1794032,-119.6290122,407m/data=!3m1!1e3?hl=en

On the 1935 California Divisions of Highway Map of Madera County the Minarats and Western Railroad can be seen snaking around North Fork Road and ending in Wishon at Bass Lake.  The Minarets and Western was owned by the Sugar Pine Lumber Company which apparently operated from 1921 to 1933.  The Minarets and Western Line ran from Pinedale (now a neighborhood in north Fresno) to Bass Lake.

1935 Madera County Highway Map 

The cut for the early North Fork Road and the Minarets line is obvious in the rock face south for a couple miles.  The Minarets and Western continued to follow Fine Gold Creek towards Lake Millerton.






North Fork Road passes through a community called O'Neals which is at a junction with Hildreth Road which continues south towards Friant.  Apparently O'Neals dates back the late 1880s but really just seems to be a collection of ranch buildings.


 West of O'Neals North Fork Road terminates at CA 41.








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