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A ride through the northeastern mountains of California

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Today I had a nice 400 mile ride. To start with, I live in Burney CA, which is located 5

miles west of the intersection of Hwy 299 and Hwy 89. The town is located in

northeastern California, fifty miles east of Redding. The landscape is a mixture of pine

forest mountains and high plateaus. This morning I waited until 10 am to decide what the

weather was going to do. The forecast was for rain showers all day, it was cloudy but just

an early morning drizzle that ended around 10 am. That’s when I decided I would take a

ride. It didn’t matter if it stayed dry or not, I figured it would be a good test of the RT’s

ability to protect against the elements. I didn’t have a complete trip planned, I thought I

would start by riding over to Lake Almanor and see what happens from there. To do this I

took Hwy 299 east to Hwy 89, where I would turn south. Hwy 89 is a lovely ride through

the Hat Creek area, heavily forested steep slopes to my right, with secluded grassy

meadows on the left. Usually in the summer time they are green, but this time of the year

they are brown due to the cold turning the grass brown. The road gently weaves along the

base of the mountains until I reach Old Station where I turn left onto Hwy 44. In Burney

the elevation is about 3000’, by the time I reach Old Station it is 4000’. You don’t really

notice the climb, it is so gradual. Once I turn onto Hwy 44, I climb to 5000’ as the road

scales along the side of what we call the Hat Creek Rim. Hwy 44 is very beautiful with

clumps of pine forests and huge open meadows. Once the elevation levels off, you are

around 6000’ high. The air was cool, and the landscape was covered with about 3’ of

snow. The road is straight as an arrow except for occasional gentle sweepers. Something

else I should mention, there is NO cars. I virtually had the road to myself. At 49 miles

from Burney is a highway rest area, I pull into it to check if there is power at the

bathroom, (work related errand) and then continue on eastward to road A 21. This cuts

over from Hwy 44 to Hwy 36 where an old lumber town called Westwood sits nestled in

the mountains. Most people who live there are still employed in the timber business. The

town is very reminiscent of the old lumber towns that were owned and built by the

lumber companys. The streets are laid out in a perfect grid system and all the houses look

the same, except for the houses on each corner of the intersections. These houses are a

little bigger and were designated for the workers who held lead positions. Now days the

lumber company has sold off everything and the houses are privately owned by the

individuals who occupy them. Many of the houses are run down with lots of scrap

material laying around the outside. However, a few of the houses are beginning to receive

remodeling and I suspect most of those are vacation homes for people who live

elsewhere. I circled around town for a few extra minutes, checking it out before

continuing on. I am now traveling on Hwy 147 that will take me along the east shores of

Lake Almanor. What I like best about the lake is, while looking across from the east side,

you have a terrific view of Mt Lassen. Mt Lassen is the very beginnings of the southern

end of the Cascade Mountain Range that extends all the way through the state of

Washington . All the mountains here are well defined by very jagged tops. This morning I

couldn’t see much of the lake because of a soupy layer of fog sitting on the water. The

road follows the shoreline with some very easy sweeps where you peer through the trees

to steal views of the lake. It is so much fun that before you know it, you have traveled the

entire shoreline and you are at the intersection with Hwy 89. If you have never been to

this area, you must make a point of riding here some day soon. The scenery is wonderful.

From Lake Almanor to Quincy, the road is flanked by tall rugged mountains, covered

with snow for most of the winter months. The highway remains mostly at 3 to 4 thousand

feet elevation. South of Crescent Mills, the road follows a river with big sweeping turns

that offer fairly good speed and low lean angles, as long as you don’t do too much site

seeing (hard to do). Eventually you come to the intersection of Hwy 70, I turned left and

headed for Quincy. The special attraction in this area is the famous railroad

infrastructure. It is an engineering marvel the way they spanned the canyons and tunneled

through the mountains. The rails come from three different directions and all intersect

here. The road is not bad either, with some tighter turns that keep your eyes busy

watching the road. The guardrailing is a low rock wall with steep drop offs to the river

far below. Again, very few cars on the road and I was pretty much able to ride a brisk

pace of my liking. It probably helps that one reason there is so little traffic, is this

weekend is the Super Bowl and everyone is at home watching the stupid tube, (better for

me). I love riding this time of the year, with the layered stratuses of clouds strewn

through the mountain sides, it gives so much more dimension to the landscape. When I

reached Quincy, the streets were practically deserted. This is an old timber industry town

still trying to hang onto what timber activity is left, while developing the tourism

business based on the outdoors recreation so well suited for the area. Now I am headed

east on Hwy 70/89 until I reach the turn off for Graeagle, another old timber logging

town. This one is better preserved with the original redwood stained rustic buildings built

by some logging company. It is very “cutesy”with small shops occupying the old town

buildings. There is a restaurant in the middle of town I like to eat at, but today I will just

gas up at the Chevron and move on to the south following Hwy 89 towards Tahoe. The

time is 1:30 in the afternoon and the temps are rising enough that I don’t need the heated

vest and grips on anymore. The road winds southward through the pines like a narrow

walking path through a park. I like it but I remind myself to watch for deer. With the

trees so close to the road, there wouldn’t be much warning if one was to jump out in front

of me. The narrow road swerves left and right with gentle rises and dips. I am beyond my

initial plan for the ride now and I am undecided as to where I will go. I might turn west

on Hwy 49, which I really love with its steep canyon walls and quaint towns like Sierra

City or Downieville. Time is getting late so I decide to travel just a little more to the

south to Sierraville where there is this wonderful looking restaurant and bar (it has a

western look to it with its covered porch on two sides of the building). In the summer

they put tables and chairs on the porch so you can sit there and enjoy the distant

mountains (and watch the cars and motorcycles go by) while you eat lunch . The town

sits out in the middle of a wide open flat area that must be twenty miles across. But,

before I reach Sierraville and as I approach the intersection of Hwy 89 and 49 I see three

sportbike riders heading west on 49, hmm, I wonder if I might change my mind and

follow those guys down the canyon. Maybe I will show them what an RT can do. Nope, I

continue on to Sierraville. Well, when I get there the restaurant is closed, a few miles

back I had decided this would be as far south as I would travel, but I looked around town

for a short while and noticed a sign headed east that says Hwy 395 was only 19 miles

ahead. I had never been on this last stretch of Hwy 49 and I was curious about where it

would reach Hwy 395. I only remember seeing Hwy 70 intersect with 395, so I decided to

press on and see some new road. Hwy 49 slowly swings back toward the north as it

travels eastward and follows the edge of the great wide valley. The mountains to the east

have a desert appearance to them and I can tell this must be close to Hwy 395 which

travels north and south through high desert. In about ten miles I find the end of the

highway which deadends into Hwy 70, not to far from Hwy 395. I am thinking this is

good because I want to spend some time traveling on a long distance straight road to see

how I cope with sitting on my new RT for long periods of time with no turns. It will be

around 50 to 60 miles of straight highway to Susanville. If you like desert scenery you

will like this stretch of road. There are beautiful mountains on both sides of the road. The

mountains to the west are snow capped with modest amounts of timber. The mountains

to the east are bare desert mountains, similar to the mountains of the deserts of southern

California. Sometimes you can see distant mountain ranges to the east that make you

want to turn off onto one of the many roads that point in their direction. I make good

time out here on the open road as I push the speed up to 85 mph (indicated). I have seen

the CHP out here, but normally you can see a car a long ways off before they reach you

and you just have to slow down when in doubt. Today I didn’t see any CHP. At 20 miles

out of Susanville you will see Honey Lake to the right, it is an Alkali lake with not much

of anything to look at but bare shores and greenish water. I still like to look at it and the

hay farms that draw water out of it for irrigation. I guess the alkali water doesn’t hurt the

hay. The mountains on the left side of the highway are very rugged with little amount of

trees growing on them, mostly at the lower elevations. The tops are rocky and rugged.

The sun is beginning to get very low in the sky and I begin to wonder if the temp is going

to drop drastically and bring ice to the roads. As I ride into Susanville I realize it is one of

the few times I remember that the wind is not trying to blow me over. Too bad, I wanted

to see how the RT would behave in the wind. Riding into Susanville I see the mountains

to the west are loaded with snow, much more than what I have been looking at for the

last hour or so. Those snow covered mountains are where Hwy 44 cuts through and

where I was earlier. I know it’s going to be cold up there, but I have different plans. I am

going to get a quick bite to eat in Susanville and then take Hwy 139 to the north, which

takes me along side of Eagle Lake. This is a great ride, it has mountain passes, desert,

forest and an opportunity to travel the sweeping turns alongside the shoreline. I stayed on

Hwy 139 for 50 miles before turning left onto a back road that parallels Hwy 299 heading

west. This brings me into the small town of Bieber. This town looks like it should be

somewhere in the middle of Montana, with its flat landscape surrounded by distant

mountain ranges. There is not much left to the town, its main source of employment, a

sawmill shut down this past year and now all that is left for employment is the farms of

the area. But, it is wide open country and it reminds me that there is still lots of

unpopulated land around. I am only about 40 miles from Burney and home and I will be

close to 400 miles traveled today. I am not tired and I am enjoying every minute of the

ride. There are two more mountain ridges to cross and two more big valleys between

them. There will be the towns of McArthur, Fall River Mills (former location of Russell

Day Long Saddles), and then Burney. It is almost dark as I approach Burney, I guess I

rode just enough miles and didn’t leave much day light to waste.

The bike felt great in the turns, it felt “sure footed”, easy to flick, loves the rpm to range

between 4K and 5K. The wind protection was great, I think it has a lot to do with the lack

of fatigue I felt at the day’s end. One thing I did notice, the “surge”. It is there between

3K and 4K. I can live with it but I hope most of it can be tuned out at the next service.

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Thanks, Mike,


It sounds like a beautiful ride, with country like mine here

in Bend, Oregon. I dream of doing 299 from the east side of Cal over to the coast, with maybe a side trip near Redding if I get the Rick Mayer seat.


But first I gotta wait until my silver 03 RT is uncrated, set up, and brought home :-)



thanks again and congrats on your taste in model and color,


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Nice ride tale, nice to hear someone's out riding.



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Thanks Mike,


Beautiful- It fills in the gaps of some great country that I just missed bringing my bike home from So. California. Click the link in my sig below, and you'll see what I did when I played in the Quincy area. I had originally planned to 'cover' the Lassen area in my ride- but I goofed by not getting a room right away when I finally made my way into town via the Oroville-Quincy road. Unfortunately, I took 70 back to the valley at night so I missed a lot of scenery there too.


I'm sure glad you're filling in the blanks for me. And a great job you did as well! Thanks for letting me 'ride along' with you.


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Wow, that sounds like a fantastic day. Living where you do, I bet every day off is a perfect riding day. smile.gif


My only chance to ride through your neck of the woods was long after dark one night last October. Even in the dark, 299 was a fun ride. I am really looking forward to my first weekend trip this spring, since my plan is to see what these roads look like in the daytime.


Thanks for the tale of your ride, and of the towns and countryside you visited. I am certainly going to work much of your route into my ride plan. I'll keep an eye out for your R1150RT.

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I read your tale of your trip from SoCal to home in Washington. That was a great write up. I have been on most of the roads you mentioned. As I was reading your tale at Ashland, I wanted to stop you and tell you to take Hwy 62 out of Medford towards Crater Lake. It would save you time instead of riding over to Klamath. From the lake you travel north and east to Hwy 97. However, Hwy 66 is a fantastic road I just recently discovered with a friend and it sounded like you wouldn't made it through Crater Lake. In fact, Hwy 66 is the road that I was offered a ride on his RT and when I decided to sell my bike and purchase my new RT.

I too have been to Convict Lake, I camped there with some friends two years ago on a week long bike trip. I especially liked the June Lake loop which is north of that area off of Hwy 395.

Edited by fast87

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If you would like company or a place to stay send me a pm and I will try to be available. I too am a motorcycle junkie and I look for any opportunity to ride.

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That area seems to be one of the most under-rated areas in California. I've been through there numerous times in all seasons and it has always been a great adventure. It's been years since I rode my R100RS up there and I'll make certain to get the 1150RT up there soon.

Thanks for a great riding tale.

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Hi Tim, I grew up in Sonoma, as did my wife. We moved from there in 1979.

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Mike, I enjoyed the ride you described. I have also ridden the roads you described often. It was like I knew exactly what you were thinking while traversing the area. We are indeed lucky to be living here, where there are so many excellent country roads with little traffic and beautiful scenery. I live in Susanville and have for 15 years. I enjoy the Burney and Burney Falls area.

Hopefully we can arrange a ride in the future. I was away from home this weekend taking a ride down to Sonora , Ca. About 275 miles . The western side of the Sierras are also beautiful and have unlimited roads to discover. We got a little damp on the ride home on Monday coming over Hwy.88 from Jackson to Gardnerville , but it was worth it. Please feel free to get in touch if you would like company riding sometime. You can e-mail me or call.


Mat in Susanville

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Ken Wood

Hi Mike...and Mat...


Wow... the people you meet on this site, who are in your backyard. I live in Palo Cedro (by Redding) and ride the roads you talked about often. I ride once a month up to Susanville on business (Up-State Hearing Instruments) and Weaverville.


Lets do a ride sometime!


I am planning on putting together a ride up here and invite all BMWRT.com'ers that care to enjoy some awesome riding sometime this Spring or whenever there is a free weekend.


Mat, if you see a short, fat, ugly guy on a blue 1150RT in Susanville, thats my cousin Kevin. Just give him the finger, and your his buddy for life. crazy.gif

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I am available most weekends. I would like to see what you have in mind for the rides this spring.

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Ken Wood



Im open on ride options, but was thinking hwy 36 to 101, up to Arcata and pick up hwy 299, come back inland and head north at Willow Creek on 96 to I5. Could either come all the way down I5 or pick up hwy 3 down to Weaverville, 299 east to Redding again. That loop is just over 500 miles. That may be a little long, but there are various ways to shorten it. One would be to not go all the way to 101, but cut across to Hyampom and on up to 299. (Cant think of the name of that road).


These are some of the best local roads, with the least amount of traffic that I know of, especially hwy 36 and 96.


Another fun ride that I do alot, is to ride over 36 to 101, head south to hwy 1 at Legget and down to Fort Bragg, spend the night and come home the next day. (abalone season opens April 1)

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Thanks from us, too, Mike. We enjoyed the description of your ride. Jane was at Burney Falls as a kid (lo-o-ng time ago) and has been wanting to go back to visit that area. Maybe we'll make it before long. We were in Susanville last summer, but just went up 395 (from Tahoe). Do you get snow in Burney?


We're more familiar with the southern end of your trip, as we do that area as day-rides from Tahoe.

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Ken, Mike and Peter


I like the idea of doing a ride together. The ride on Hwy. 36 from Hwy. 99 to the coast is a spectacular one. The amount of twisties in that streach is amazing. There are unlimited day rides and two day rides in this area and all are unforgetable. The small towns and communities are very inviting for a respit between panoramic adventures. I say lets get together this Spring, when we can reasonably expect that we can ride without getting snowed on or traversing icy patches of road. There is some high country roads that will fool you this time of year.

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The only dates I have committed to are, May 22nd to June 1 rst. Anything else is good for me. We might think about making two rides, 1) Hwy 36 from Red Bluff to Hwy 101 and back to Redding via Hwy 299, with stops at Fortuna, Willow Creek and Weaverville. 2) I-5 to Yreka, Hwy 96 along the Klamath River to Somes Bar, left to Cecilville, to Hwy 3 at Callahan, south to Weaverville on Hwy 3 and Hwy 299 back to Redding. These might be all day rides by themselves. Anyway, just a thought.

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