30° 37′ 58N
120° 32′ 32W
From where ever you happen to be, take Highway 50 (East out of Sacramento or West out of South Lake Tahoe).
Take the Missouri Flat Road Exit and take a right onto Missouri Flat Road if you have previously been Eastbound and left if you have previously been Westbound. You will go past Wal*Mart on the right (our most major landmark). Keep on going down Missouri Flat Road until the road dead ends into a T. Directly in front of you will be a sign that says, “49.” That is about how many minutes it will take you to get to Grizzly Flats from there on a good day if you are not experienced with our mountain. It’s actually a sign Highway 49 which, in this incarnation, is also known as Pleasant Valley Road. It’s also, as I said, about how much longer you have to drive to get to Grizzly Flats.
Turn left onto Pleasant Valley Road. The speed limit through Diamond Springs is 25 mph, so don’t monkey around with highway speeds through there. Also, the right lane is going to end as you are leaving town just past the post office (which takes about 30 seconds from the time you got into town), so stay to the left. We call the lane that ends “Flatlanders Lane,” because they are the ones who always get trapped there and expect us to stop or slow down and let them in.
No, Flatlander’s Lane will not continue far enough to get you into Jiffy Mart. By the way, Jiffy Mart (on the right as you are leaving Diamond Springs), Quick Stop and Vallero (all in that area) are your last hope for gasoline in the foreseeable future, so tank up, Sparky. Don’t you dare come up this mountain with less than a quarter tank of gas.
Once you’ve gassed up, continue on Pleasant Valley Road for about 5-6 miles until you come to what would be a 3 way stop if you were going to stop. There is a large white house on the left corner. To the right, you will see a market and liquor store. This is called “Guttenberg’s Corner.”
You, however, on your Grizzly Flats seeking quest, are going to ease over to the right where you have a yield sign instead of a stop sign. This is Buck’s Bar Road. Yes, there was a Buck and yes there is a bar, or was a bar. Start driving and get used to driving.
About .2 miles down Buck’s Bar Road, look at the old Spring School House on the left just down Springer Road. You’re just looking, not turning. Other sources claim this was called “Summit School.” It is reported to be one of several one-room school houses in the area. River School was near Somerset. Mountain School is on Grizzly Flat Road in Grizzly Flats and for many years was Alice Bennett’s house. She died, God bless’er (she made amazing breads) and her family lives there now. Willow School is about halfway between Somerset and Grizzly Flats beside the fire station. There’s a sign on the right, but by the time you get to the sign, Willow School is behind you up on the hill on the right.
In about 5-6 minutes of normal type driving, just down a hill that actually has guard rails (there is a river down the cliff on the other side of that rail), you will see a house with lots of interesting looking things all around it. (I thought it was an antique shop when I first moved here – go figure) That house is what was once Buck’s Bar. Buck’s Bar was famous for the sign on the roof which proudly proclaimed that its capacity was 1000, 20 at a time. Susan Hayne, our own Grizzly Flats Postmaster, used to own Buck’s Bar.
The other side of the bridge
Just seconds past ex-Buck’s Bar, you will come to the first of two single lane bridges on your trip to Grizzly Flats. Both have a particularly nice view, but be careful going over them. The plan is that people coming down from the mountain have the right of way over people coming up the mountain (having the whole gravity thing going on), so wait and see if anyone is coming down the hill before you start across the bridge.
Just past the bridge and on the right, you will pass a small outbuilding that is red, white and blue:
The person who owns this property began tracking American casualties at the beginning of the war. Some time back, they just stopped. Was it too overwhelming? Did they quickly see there would not be nearly enough room? I think, actually, their child or other concerned person must have returned from The Great Sandbox and they were perhaps counting off days.
Just past this little building, you will come to a three way stop, this one going onto Sand Ridge. You will continue going straight.
Up and over the hill a bit, you will come to a four-way stop intersection and you are current in the town of Somerset. This is Mt Aukum Road. To the right is Mt Aukum. If you were to turn down that way, you’d pass an elementary school and our middle school and soon be up to your ears in Wine Country. To the left is Pleasant Valley (it will ultimately T into the Pleasant Valley Rd you were on before you turned onto Buck’s Bar Road) which has another couple of schools, some small shops (Ace Hardware, a book store, an antique shop, a pet clinic, a hair salon and a pizza place), as well as “Holiday Market,” the last bastion of civilization for a while. Straight ahead through the intersection is Grizzly Flats. You will see a little blue store called the Somerset Store (this is the last place you will find to buy ANYthing on your trip). The Somerset Store used to be “Youngs,” but “Youngs” burned to the ground, the store was rebuilt and was renamed “Somerset Store.” You will also see a real estate office and the Gold Vine Grill (upscale dinner dining with these things called salmon quesadillas that are out of this world), you will see the Crossroads Cafe (coffee and sandwiches) and beyond that, you will see the Somerset Post Office.
Note: This is very likely the LAST place where you will have cell phone reception. Just shut’em off because you’ll only drain your battery.
Go through the intersection and start climbing the mountain. Stay in your lane and don’t be sliding over the middle line on the curves because you are afraid of going over or hitting the mountain. You are far more likely to hit an oncoming car by not staying in your lane than you are to hit the mountain or go off the cliff.
Past the Somerset intersection, Buck’s Bar Road turns into Grizzly Flat Road.
About one mile past the post office, you will pass the Old Meyers Ranch (it’s the old barn on the left) which is now a vineyard called Busby’s Cellars. Shortly after that, you will come to the only straightway, passing lane on your trip. If there are people following close behind you, DO NOT speed up on this straightway. Let them pass you here. In fact, if any time on this trip, you have cars piling up behind you or someone who obviously wants to get around you, pull over and let them pass. This isn’t the time or place to prove any points. Be nice. We can bury people in these woods and they’d NEVER be found.
Just past the straightway on the left, you will see a tree growing out of a rock (swear to God). This is near “Snowbird Lane” where the road gets very slippery in winter, so the area is called “Snowbird Slide.”
You will see the entrance to “Canyon Vista,” which is a bed and breakfast.
Next comes “Flatlander’s Never Ending Curve.”
There’s a brief straightening out of the road for “Valley of the Ponds.” This is a lovely area with – you guessed it! – lots of ponds on the left.
Starke’s Ridge has a beautiful view:
Keep on going past “Cole’s Station,” which is the old brown house on the left. It used to be a stagecoach stop, a train depot and a watering place for Diamond Springs Caldor Railroad locomotives. Go past Caldor Road on the right (road to the once good sized town of Caldor where the California Door (Get it? “Cal”-ifornia “Dor”?) Company had their main factory and the starting point of the railroad line to Placerville).
Next, you will come to Peart’s Little Place on the left:
There is a phone in there…and karaoke sometimes… and tacos sometimes. My son laughingly calls it “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Store.”
After that comes the second one-lane bridge you will encounter on your trip to Grizzly Flats. Same rules apply… people coming down off the mountain have the right of way. BE CAREFUL! You are now getting to the snow line and often the roads are slick even if you can’t see the ice. From November through May, watch yourself!
In fact, someone posted a brilliant ad on the Post Office bulletin board about studded snow tires, saying, “Don’t become a member of the Steely Ridge Bridge Club!” (This is the “bridge” to which they were referring)
Continue on up the mountain road beyond the bridge. You’re almost there.
Exactly .2 miles past the one lane bridge, look to the left and you will see a big tree right on the side of the road. It is covered with green moss year ’round and looks for all the world as though a person was standing on their head and was buried up to their waist in dirt with just their (green) legs sticking out. In fact, on the “coming downhill” side of the tree, there is a large gash in the “thigh” of the tree that looks, well, I dunno. It reminds me of something I just can’t quite place.
Bet you’ll not think the same about THAT tree again.
Anyway, right by that tree is where my son drove my beautiful, white, souped up, former cop car Caprice right off the cliff. He didn’t have a scratch on him, thank God, but the car was totaled. Again, you have to be careful driving on these mountains!
Around the curves, just past the Dreamcatcher Ranch, you will come to “Sassy Lane,” on the left. When you see the sign for it (wrapped around two Sacramento Bee boxes), you are required to say, “Sssssassssssy!” either out loud or under your breath discreetly, depending on your circumstances in the car.
Around the curves, just past the Dreamcatcher Ranch, you will come to “Sassy Lane,” on the left. Just past Sassy Lane, you will come to a Y in the road just past this sign:
To the right, Grizzly Flat Road continues, but locals refer to it as “Logan’s Grade” (or “Logan’s Run” if you are a sci fi fan) after the school teacher who used to live on Logan’s Grade in the 1800?s. The road is not marked with a sign designating it as Logan’s Grade and is instead identified as a continuation of Grizzly Flat Road, which then continues more at the top of Logan’s Grade when it T’s. To the left is Grizzly Flat Road and to the right is Pine Ridge.
Logan’s was originally the main drag of the town before String Canyon Road (which is the road on the left side of the Y) was built.
[If you are a thrill-seeking personality, you can get to Grizzly Flat Road by Logan’s Grade. This is a road that is about 1.8 cars wide with a steep grade, an abrupt and unforgiving drop off on the left side and lots of curves. If you decide to try it, go up Logan’s Grade all the way to the top. It will dead end into Grizzly Flat Road. There is no stop sign at the top for people coming up the mountain.
If you want to take the safer way, continue on as below:
Past Logan’s Grade, Grizzly Flat Road has now become String Canyon Road.
Instead of going up Logan’s, you will veer toward the LEFT and continue on in the direction of the sign that points you toward “Grizzly Flats” and “Grizzly Park.” “Grizzly Park” is a subdivision (hahahaha, well, yes, it is) and “Grizzly Flats” is the town.
Several miles past the Y in the road, you will come to Evergreen Road and just before Evergreen, you will see a rustic, wooden sign that says, “Grizzly Park” in yellow letters. You will also see a sign like this:
Congratulations, you have arrived into the town. Where you go now depends on what part of the metropolis of Grizzly Flat you will be touring. Consult your hosting locals for further directions.
About Grizzly Flats:
Once, this was a large town with hotels, stores, restaurants, doctors, blacksmiths, churches, a school and literally thousands of people. The bulk of the town was on the acreage to the right of String Canyon Road. The town has burned to the ground three times since it was first established. Originally a prosperous gold mining town, the harsh weather conditions for most of the year causes settlers to turn to lumber instead of gold for their fortunes.
Once, this was a large town with hotels, stores, restaurants, doctors, blacksmiths, churches, a school and literally thousands of people. The bulk of the town was on the acreage to the right of String Canyon Road as you are entering town.
Modern day Grizzly Flats has a community church, a ranger station, a post office, a cemetery (dating back to the 1800′s), a water department and a two-room schoolhouse.
Welcome to Grizzly Flats!
Missouri Flat Road exit off of Highway 50, take a right.
Left on Pleasant Valley Road when Missouri Flat Road dead ends into it.
Veer right onto Buck’s Bar Road at the three way intersection about 6 miles out of Diamond Springs.
Take Buck’s Bar to the four-way stop where you see the Somerset Store.
Continue straight through the intersection and climb the mountain, past the second one-lane bridge.
Left side of the Y in the road.
You’re there when you see the town sign.