Calaveras Backroads and Byways – Some of Our Best Little Secrets

One of the joys of traveling in the Calaveras foothills is exploring the county’s many backroads.

The Ebbetts Pass National Scenic Byway is our most well-known tour over the spectacular high Sierras, which follows State Highway 4 from Angels Camp to Markleeville.  But there are several short backroad day trips within the county that you might not know about – because we’ve hidden them.  Some wind along steep river canyons, some amble through lush vineyards, others take you to secret historic places and out of the way swimming holes.   Whether you’re looking for a scenic cruise in your classic car, a curve-hugging rubber test for your motorcycle or a fun cycling challenge, we’ve compiled a handful of ideas for your backroad adventures.

Car cruises

Wine and History Loop 


The Costa Store – Historic Landmark in Calaveritas

Pay a visit to the fascinating Angels Camp Museum then head out of town on Dogtown Road, toward Calaveritas.  You’ll pass by the newly opened Mineral Wines property and tasting room, then tour through rolling oak and ranch lands, also passing by Dalton Vineyards before coming to the historic hamlet of Calaveritas.  Continue on Calaveritas Road to San Andreas, stop in at Calaveras County Historical Museum and Gooney’s Bar and Grill for some quick refreshments, then loop back southward on Pool Station Road.  That giant industrial space on your right is the former Calaveras Cement Plant, one of the county’s most important industries in the twentieth century.  Sit back for more ranches and a glimpse over Clondaire Vineyards, clinging to the hillsides with views of the Sierras.  Highway 4 brings you back through Angels Camp to Six Mile Road in Vallecito.  Then head up to Red Hill Road, where the Twisted Oak Winery is a great spot to end the day and watch the sunset, overlooking the surrounding hills.

Mileage: 50

Bonus – not to be missed:  the giant gold nugget and beautiful grounds at Ironstone Vineyards, home of the Concourse D’Elegance.   It’s just up Six Mile Road from Four Winds, but on a bumpy gravel road, so we’d recommend coming through Murphys on the paved road to Ironstone.

Rolling with the Wide Open Spaces 

From Angels Camp, head west on Highway 4 to Hunt Road, which takes you over a ridge and drops into the Salt Springs Valley, follow Rock Creek Road along Salt Springs Reservoir and down a winding canyon to the little town of Milton (terminus of the Stockton-Copperopolis Railroad- which didn’t quite make it to Copperopolis!) Then hang back on Milton Road to Highway 4 and head to Copper Valley Town Square for a bite and a beverage.  O’Byrnes Ferry Road brings you over Lake Tulloch and eventually to Jamestown on Highway 108.  At the stoplight take a left onto Rawhide Road back to Highway 49, where you’ll want to pay a visit to Mark Twain’s cabin in Tuttletown before crossing the Stanislaus River again back into Calaveras County.

Mileage: 76

Next up – Two wheeled options for scenic backroads

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