The road less traveled: Highway 50 detour
The Highway 50 detour has some travelers grumbling over its longer length. But if you’ve got the time to enjoy it, there’s much to see and do along the way.
From the vast views from Carson Spur Pass to guided gold-panning tours in Amador County, there’s plenty for the wandering tourist. And if you’re looking for a roadside meal, a variety of corky, wholesome eats like Lee’s Chinese Restaurant and Mr. Beefy’s Burgers, dot the route.
From Placerville, out Highway 49 to Highway 88 and into South Lake Tahoe via Highway 89 is 119 miles, 59 miles longer than the Highway 50 trip. From Sacramento, the detour, using Highway 16, is 30 miles longer. From South Lake Tahoe, the detour rises to more than 8,000 feet in elevation before dropping to Placerville’s 2120 feet above sea level.
Unlike Highway 50 that darts through primarily wooded areas along the American River, the detour winds through the Sierra’s lush green foothills. The oaks are bright with new leaves and the flowers are just beginning to bloom. Weaving through the countryside, past grazing cattle and red painted barns, gives the detour a Sunday drive sort of feel.
For history buffs, there’s countless mining sites and anecdotes about the Wild West. Highway 88 was traveled by miners and settlers in the mid-1800s. Their marks, stations and stops aren’t few or far between.