Old Priest Grade Road

The killer Old Priest Grade Road in CA hits a 20% of max gradient

Old Priest Grade Road is a very hairy ride located in the County of Tuolumne, in the U.S. state of California. It’s brutally steep hitting a 20% through some of the ramps. Passenger vehicles only. Though it may be dangerous, it’s also very scenic.

How long is Old Priest Grade Road?

Set high in the Western Sierra mountains, the curved and dangerously steep graded mountain road is 2.89km (1.8 miles) long, running west-east from Moccasin, an unincorporated community in Tuolumne County to Priest, a populated place located one mile southwest of Big Oak Flat.

Is Old Priest Grade Road paved?

The road is entirely paved. It was originally an Indian path and then a wagon route. It was originally built for stagecoach and supply wagons to service the 1840-1850’s gold miners. The road was bypassed by the New Priest Grade Road.

Is Old Priest Grade Road dangerous?

Trucks, motorhomes, buses and trailers are prohibited. This route is for passenger vehicles only and is very steep and windy. You should only attempt to drive it if you have a reliable car. There is a 7,500-pound weight limit. It’s a killer road. 18 people have died going down it over the years. It’s one of the steepest climbs in Northern California. The road has grade steepness up to 18 percent, and the steepest stretch might be closer to 20 percent. Functional brakes are a must. Overheating is quite common on this steep grade in the summertime. It is very slippery when wet. High risk of rock slides. It has some narrow parts and it’s a heavily traveled route to Yosemite National Park. Bad weather in winters creates safety hazards: the roadway can become icy during chilly winter temperatures.

 

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