RoadRUNNER’s Bucket List Roads: California Highway 49

Jun 04, 2016 View Comments by

The Mother Lode Road

What is It? California State Route 49 was first established during the famed 1849 California Gold Rush, connecting gold mining towns located in the Sierra Nevada foothills. Today, the paved route traverses this former gold mining country and the splendidly preserved towns and artifacts from this iconic time in American history.

Points of Interest:

  • Frenchman Lake: Outdoor sports and campgrounds
  • Nevada City: Charming Gold Rush town. World’s largest hydraulic mine is at Malakoff Diggins State Historic Park, 26 miles northeast of Nevada City.
  • Grass Valley: Empire Mine State Historic Park is the site of one of the oldest mines in California. One of nine California covered bridges built before 1900 can be found at Bridgeport Historic State Park.
  • Auburn: Walking tour of Historical Old Town Auburn
  • Coloma: Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park
  • Placerville: El Dorado County Historical Museum
  • Angels Camp: Mining memorabilia at the Angels Camp Museum
  • Sonora: New Melones Visitor Center and Museum
  • Mariposa: California State Mining and Mineral Museum

Scenery: Pine and redwood forests, clear mountain lakes and streams, and historic gold mining villages.

Curves: The two-lane road snakes through the Sierra Nevada foothills.

Services: Numerous small communities along the route provide lodging and fare.

Traffic: Heavier on weekends

Distance: Approximately 312 miles

Time Required: Two to four days, depending on the level of sightseeing desired.

Technical Difficulty: Moderate

Website: Travel Through Time … on Highway 49!


Tours, tankbag maps, tips, and more: subscribe to RoadRUNNER today!

Tags: Categories: Destinations, On The Road