Monday, March 23, 2015

Ice House Rd - Riding the Sierras Series.

The savvy reader has probably figured out by now, that I have split one ride into three different road reports. It would seem I was taking a page out of Hollywood's playbook, but that's not so. It actually was the intention - report on one road per blog post. Instead of one blog post with a glut of pictures on all three roads, we now have three (hopefully) useful blog posts to keep a reader's attention. 

For more detailed road Intel on this road - can be a good resource.

Needless to say, this road report picks up where the previous one had left off. Wentworth Springs Rd dead-ends into a T-junction. Turn left and you head into ever more desolate wilderness - the road is rough and bumpy, but the rocky and rugged views can be engaging as you head towards Loon Lake Reservoir.

Loon Lake is roughly 8-9 miles of not too goaty road from the T-junction off of Wentworth Springs, where you turn left. The FJR suspension was too stiff for this road, just a little uncomfortable, that's all. I didn't have any trouble, but was definitely more comfortable on this road on the V-Strom. There are restroom facilities and also a campground by this reservoir. 

Like most other California reservoirs this year, the Loon Lake reservoir is also running near historic lows. The reports are that California only has about a year's worth of water reserves left, which is pretty alarming. We need to be more freaked out about it than we seem to be, more stringent water conservation is called for perhaps, although not sure how much that would help - better than the same ol' same ol' will I am sure!

We are at roughly 6500 feet at Loon Lake. Beautiful mountain views all around from this vantage. 

Turning back South from Loon Lake, the next two pictures show the pretty views from this harsher road, and also more of the craggy mountainsides on which this road was cut. 

Approx 8-9 miles from Loon Lake, and you are back at the T-junction with Wentworth Springs and the road improves dramatically. If you turn right, you can run Wentworth Springs East to West and back to Georgetown, or you could continue straight ahead and head South towards Hwy 50 on Ice House Rd. That's what this report will be doing. 

It is once again the fast, smooth road you had become accustomed to on Wentworth Springs Rd. The northern portion of Ice House on this section is densely wooded on either side and feels "boxed in". There are also several side-trips you can take from Ice House road. One notable one being to the Big Hill fire lookout for panoramic views of the surrounding mountains. I didn't take these detours on this day.

The road does open up and you are not quite as boxed-in as you keep riding South. Denser growth on the road-sides doesn't necessarily slow many people down, but it does slow me down, never know what critter is lurking in the vegetation - ready to jump out and surprise you. 

Although not readily apparent from these pictures, the further South you ride on Ice House, the more technical the corners become. So, keep that in mind. 

I am not entirely sure of the statistics, but I think there are usually more motorcycle incidents on Wentworth Springs Rd, than they are on Ice House Rd. If true, I am not entirely sure of the reason why?

Another thing to keep in mind, is that Ice House Rd is the only road connecting Hwy 50 to a multitude of camping sites and reservoirs (think boating) in the area. So, in the Summer weekends, fully expect there to be a fair amount of campers and trucks hauling boats on this road. 

I caught up to these 3 riders on BMWs towards the later sections, they were running an OK pace, so I settled at a safe following distance behind them. An unsafe passing maneuver is what the crashed rider in the earlier report on Wentworth Springs Rd was attempting, when he shot off the cliff, as I have subsequently learned. Better to slow down a bit and enjoy the ride and avoid the pain and aggravation to you and yours that may occur because one is too bone-headed to keep their ego in check. 

Almost done...

The last corner is marked for 15 mph. A lot of riders over-cook this corner as it doesn't appear as tight as it really is. Fortunately there is a wide shoulder in this corner, so if one overcooks it, it doesn't necessarily mean disaster, but then why over-cook it in the first place? 

Ice House Rd. Just under 34 miles long. Traveled North to South when accessed from the Wentworth Springs junction, also accessible from Hwy 50 for a South to North run. The 9 miles or so to the North of Wentworth Springs junction to Loon Lake is a bumpy ride. The 25 miles or so ride South of the junction to Hwy 50 is more suited for sport-biking fun. 

Elevation at Loon Lake: ~6500 feet. Elevation at Hwy 50 junction: ~3200 feet. Map route below. Ride safely! 

Thank you for reading! :)


  1. Another great road report.
    I think you could give ole Tim over at Pashnit a run. As he has not added much to his road section in a while.
    The bumpy part is not for everyone, I have not been here for a while.
    Time go get out there, thanks for the inspiration.
    I too have seen a few accident scenes out there.
    I enjoyed this, keep em coming. Endless twisty roads here to write about.

    1. Thanks Jeff! Your compliments mean a lot! :)

      Tim's been doing this for a long long time. I have found his Moto roads section useful in the past, although I am not a current subscriber. I think people still do find the information useful and he has a lot of road Intel in California.

      Have fun on Wentworth and Ice House, we need the rain, but make use of the dry weather while we are dealt it and before the roads get busier with more weekenders! Ride safely! :)

  2. Man, another great road. And beautiful weather too.

    My Gladius doesn't like the bumpy roads but hubby has taken me on the forestry roads with it more than once. Amazing where you'll go when following another rider.

    You sure live in a pretty area.

    Thanks again for sharing.

    1. Thank you! Arguably some of the best riding in the country if not the world, right within our reach here in the Sierra foothills and mountains and then much more just a little beyond.

      Hope you get to enjoy these roads for yourself sometime. The Gladius would certainly love to eat up these roads! I started riding on a 2001 SV650N myself. Candy Apple Red. I loved that bike! :)


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