This secluded and winding mountain road extends 88 to 107 miles, depending on where you begin, and rises to en elevation of 6,920 feet through scenic mountain passes and vistas popular with and recommended for high clearance, four-wheel drive vehicles. In addition to scenic views, travelers will find a waterfall, rustic inns such as the Mountain House Stage Stop and Inn, abandoned mining camps, abandoned mines and numerous historic sites from the Gold Rush. Sardine House and a 1,500 acre ranch once stood in Sardine Valley. Weber Falls is at the top of a 25 foot pool that plunges into a waterfall of nearly 80 feet. Jackson Meadows Reservoir marks the halfway point of the driving tour.
The road travels high above the Middle Fork of the Yuba River and crosses open pine forests and meadows above the Little Truckee River. In many places, the creeks wash over the road. Even at 6,920 feet, Henness Pass Road is the lowest pass through the Sierra. Allow about four to five hours for driving time. The Sacramento Jeepers lead an annual trip through the area. Since the road is part of the Tahoe National Forest, visitors will find designated stops included in the brochure, “From Gold to Silver – The Comstock Connection, A Historic Driving Tour.”
Henness Pass Road was the primary emigrant trail from Virginia City, Nevada as early as 1849 and the only mountain pass that existed at the time. During the Gold Rush, this often forgotten highway served as a supply road for the Comstock silver mines in Nevada. In 1852, Henness Pass Road was a wagon toll road from Nevada to the gold field of California. Between 1860 and 1868, traffic was so heavy at times during its heyday that freight wagons traveled by day and stagecoaches drove at night. The road continued to be used until the the completion of the transcontinental railway in 1868. Today the road is left off many maps in favor of traveling Interstate 80, Highway 49 and Highway 20 by car.
Begin the driving tour of Henness Pass Road on Highway 49 in Camptonville (88 miles length). The road ends in Verdi, Nevada. The historical marker is located on the southwest corner intersection of Ridge and Henness Pass Road, 3.3 miles west of Alleghany.
Sierra County is named for the Sierra Nevada, “Snow-covered, saw-toothed mountains.” The county is not as mountainous as the name suggests and includes remote sections of scenic highways that wind through small towns established during the Gold Rush.