3 Sep 2022
By Tim Hauserman
The road bike ride to Jackson Meadows Reservoir is a 34 mile out and back with about 2700 feet of climbing.The three hour ride is on a lightly traveled road that provides idyllic meadow, mountain and lake views, but given how much climbing is involved it is not an easy ride. I usually take on the ride every year, about the time my brain only remembers the beauty and forgets about the damn bumps. Bumps? For the first ten miles out (and last ten miles back), the road has regular cracks in the pavement that are deep and wide enough to give you a good whomp about every 100 yards.
But this summer while heading out to visit Independence Lake, which is accessed via the first two miles of the road to Jackson Meadows, I noticed something very exciting: The road had been repaved, eliminating all those bumps. So I got excited to take on this ride again.
I headed out early on the last day of August. With the summer crowds greatly dissipated with most of the rugrats back in school, I assumed that the campgrounds at Webber Lake and Jackson Meadows would be less busy, and thus there would be fewer vehicles to share the road with. I was correct in this assumption, I saw less than a dozen cars in my three hour ride.
My other assumption, however, that the entire 17 mile stretch of road had been repaved, was unfortunately not correct. At about 3.5 miles in my bike tires went from smooth lusciousness to the sound of a train slowly going over the tracks…ba bump…ba bump…
The good news is that that 3.5 mile stretch did take a big chunk out of the bumpy riding distance and this ride is certainly worth the inconvenience. It also made me contemplate again the purchase of a gravel bike. I’m thinking this ride is perfect for one.
Here are the highlights of the ride: About five miles in you get excellent views of Perazzo Meadows off to the left with the mighty visage of Mt. Lola above. A few miles further, you see Webber lake shining on your left. Another mile brings you to the high point, Hennessy Pass at 6900 feet. Now the long descent into Jackson Meadows begins. Well, actually it is a quick descent, it’s a bit of a bugger of a long ascent on the way back though. A good four miles of steady climbing.
Jackson Meadows is a Donner Lake sized lake with bright blue waters, and just a few fishing boats plying the waters. It’s worth a look to go out on the dam and look down to the powerful jet releasing water below.
Where to begin: The ride starts at the junction of Highway 89 and Jackson Meadows Road, also known as Hennessy Pass Road. This is 17 miles north of Truckee. There is a large parking lot, and pit toilet.