City Escape: Fresno, California

Text: Tim Kessel • Photography: Tim Kessel

The towering trees and winding roads of Sequoia National Park are on the itinerary for this ride east of Fresno. There are interesting things to see and great stretches of road outside the park boundaries as well. The route starts at the desert elevation of 300 feet above sea level but climbs high into the Sierra Nevada. It’s a three-season ride (in winter, roads are impassable on a motorcycle). A $ 30 entrance fee for motorcycles is valid for up to seven days for both Sequoia and Kings Canyon national parks.

Length

Approximately 186 miles

Meetup Spot

Cornerstone Coffee Co., 1463 Fulton St, Fresno, CA

Lunch Stop 

Just off the route, the Peaks Restaurant at Wuksachi Lodge serves good food in a beautiful setting. Find it at 64740 Wuksachi Way, Sequoia National Park, CA.

Scenery (5 out 5) 

This ride has much to offer—desert vistas, impressive bodies of water, and towering forests. The wide spectrum of ecosystems through the 7,000 feet of elevation change is truly amazing. 

Difficulty (3 out 5) 

State Route 198 is wonderfully winding and thus demands rider attention. At the higher elevations, vigilance is required. Watch for fallen rocks, blind-side traffic, and wildlife.

Road conditions (3 out 5) 

As on any high-elevation mountain road, winter can inflict its share of pavement challenges in the form of potholes and cracks. Spring road maintenance should be monitored and expected.

Points of Interest

  1. Panoramic Point, Kings Canyon National Park
    This site, just east of Grant Grove, is a little off the route’s main loop, but it’s a memorable stop. A short trail to the lookout leads to expansive views of Kings Canyon Valley. If you have riding boots that are comfort-able for a little walking or if you pack other shoes, this vista is worth the effort. www.visitsequoia.com/explore/scenic-drives
  2. General Sherman Tree, Sequoia National Park
    The General Sherman is 275 feet tall, more than 36 feet in diameter, and about 100 feet wide at its trunk—and it’s still growing. Its estimated age is an amazing 2,200 years. No other tree in the world is as big when measured by volume. www.tinyurl.com/gen-sher
  3. Giant Forest and Museum, Sequoia National Park
    Walking among these massive trees is an experience not to be missed. It is relaxing, humbling, and awe-inspiring. Most of the trails are easy, even in riding gear. The forest is the centerpiece of Sequoia National Park. www.tinyurl.com/sequoia-kings
  4. Lake Kaweah Recreation Area
    With the Sierra Nevada foothills in the background, Lake Kaweah is an impressive vision. The reservoir’s water level varies greatly throughout the year, so a spring ride will provide a very different visual experience than a fall trip. www.tinyurl.com/kaweah-rec