Fresno and Madera

Revised May 2011 - please send updates to the webmaster

home See Driving Directions > Western Sierra for context and how to get here.
info GPS waypoints: download GPX file
This file describes leaving Hwy 99 at Fresno or Madera, to reach these and other Western Sierra trailheads:
Chiquito Pass and Clover Meadow, Kaiser Pass (western reservoirs),
Sequoia and Kings Canyon, and Rowell Meadow and Marvin Pass.
Waypoints around Fresno and Madera are plotted on several maps to clarify the text below.
See also Visalia to Three Rivers Hwy 198 to southern Sequoia.

Here is an overview of the roads detailed below. Scroll down to:

Leave Hwy 99 at Cleveland Ave instead of the official Hwy 145 exit in Madera


You might get lost and/or waste time in the Madera business district. Instead, bypass downtown Madera by exiting at Cleveland (waypoint 099CLV), which is marked as the turn for 'Millerton Lake'. Stay on Cleveland by following green-and-white signs through several quick turns where people often get trapped in the wrong lane, continuing for two miles to where you angle right (at waypoint CLVLND). Immediately turn left at a well marked intersection with Hwy 145 (a stop sign at waypoint 145CLV, marked for Millerton Lake). Stay on Hwy 145 as it bears east at the town named Sue (waypoint 145SUE). 16 miles from waypoint 145CLV turn left or go straight at Four Corners (waypoint 4CRNRS), depending on your destination.

Fresno keeps re-routing Hwy 180 as more of it becomes freeway east of Hwy 99

Follow the waypoints in GPS route FRESNO FWY BYPASS,

For a few years the Hwy 180 freeway ended at the Hwy 168 intersection and you were forced to jog south through town to reach the old Hwy 180. As of 2010, Hwy 180 is a freeway all the way through Fresno to waypoint 180FWY, where it re-joins Old Hwy 180 east toward Sequoia. Taking the 180 freeway will avoid every single restaurant and filling station, so tank up on Hwy 99.

There is no exit sign for Hwy 168 from Hwy 99 in Fresno! From the north, leave Hwy 99 at the Hwy 180 interchange, then take the Hwy 168 exit. Those approaching Fresno from the south can also exit Hwy 99 at Hwy 41, then get on Hwy 180 and take the same Hwy 168 exit.

An interesting twist, which avoids all Fresno freeways except Hwy 99, is to bypass downtown Fresno by exiting at Jensen Avenue (waypoint 099JEN) roughly 3 miles south of the Hwy 180 exit on Hwy 99. You can find quite a few fast food franchises at this exit, but it's better to wait for gas. Go about 9 miles east on Jensen, and turn left on McCall Avenue (waypoint JENMCL). The Jensen/McCall intersection has a large electrical substation - you can't miss it! Go about 2 miles north on McCall and turn right on Hwy 180 (waypoint 180MCL) which is also called Kings Canyon Road. This intersection is easy to spot because all the businesses there are boarded up. Go east through waypoint 180ACD, where you'll see the last reliable gas station (10 cents/gal cheaper than freeway), or take Academy up to Hwy 168 (180ACD to 168ACD) to reach Shaver Lake. Part of Jensen has a speed limit of 65mph so don't think of it as a city street!

To reach Oakhurst, go through Four Corners on Hwy 145 from Madera or Hwy 41 from Fresno

Follow the waypoints in either of these GPS routes:

It's pretty simple! Go east from Madera or north from Fresno, then north on Hwy 14 from Four Corners.

Four Corners (waypoint 4CRNRS) is a 4-way stop light that's hard to miss since there really aren't any other stop lights out there.

To reach Prather from Madera, go east through Four Corners on Hwy 145, then continue around Millerton Lake

Follow the waypoints in GPS route MADERA-PRATHER.

As described in the Madera exit section, exit Hwy 99 in Madera and get onto Hwy 145 at waypoint 145CLV. Stay on Hwy 145 as it bears east at the town named Sue (waypoint 145SUE). 16 miles east of waypoint 145CLV go straight through Four Corners (waypoint 4CRNRS), still on Hwy 145. Four Corners is a stop light where you cross Hwy 41 as it goes north from Fresno to Oakhurst and Yosemite. Hwy 145 continues east around Millerton Lake and follows Auberry Road to join Hwy 168 in Prather.

From Four Corners (waypoint 4CRNRS), go 3 miles east to the stop sign at Road 206 (waypoint 145206) and turn right. Maps may not label this Road 206, but the sign there does. Take Road 206 South over the Madera Canal (bears East and changes name without notice) 2.4 miles to Friant Rd, which is a T intersection with stop sign (waypoint FRIANT). Turn left at the T, which maps label as Millerton Rd, but the sign at the intersection shows you only Friant Rd. This turn used to be easy to miss on your way back, but there is now a gas station and the Friant Depot mini-mall to look for on your return trip.

Take Millerton Rd 5.8 miles past Millerton Lake (waypoint MILRTN) and the Table Mountain Casino (waypoint TABMTN) to Auberry Road (waypoint AUBER1) and turn left at the T intersection with stop sign. This turn is VERY easy to miss on your way back, and some maps do not show the intersection as a T - there is a bar at the corner and a sign marking the turn for Friant in the return direction. Check your mileage from Hwy 168 or use a GPS to find waypoint AUBER1! The bar may not be lit up late at night, but the Exxon (with reportedly reasonable prices) is a good landmark.

Take Auberry NorthEast 9.5 miles (through waypoints AUBER2-AUBER5) to Hwy 168, which you hit at the town of Prather (waypoint PRATHR). This is another T intersection with stop sign (remember this gas station for the return trip, and check your mileage or GPS here!). Prather also has a couple of restaurants, and the Foster's Freeze is a good place for people from Northern Cal (via Madera and 145) to meet people from Southern Cal (via Fresno and 168).

The only place to go from Prather is Shaver Lake, for Kaiser Pass area reservoirs

To reach Prather from Fresno, go northeast on Hwy 168

Follow the waypoints in either of these GPS routes:

As described in the Fresno freeway section, get on Hwy 168 north from Fresno.

By the time you make it to waypoint 168ACD, Hwy 168 is a 2-lane rural road. Follow it mindlessly north (via waypoints 168SAM, 168TOL, and 168MOR) to Prather (waypoint PRATHR) where you can get gas and food.

Prather has a couple of restaurants, and the Foster's Freeze is a good place for people from Northern Cal (via Madera and 145) to meet people from Southern Cal (via Fresno and 168).

The only place to go from Prather is Shaver Lake, for Kaiser Pass area reservoirs

To reach Shaver Lake from Prather, go northeast on Hwy 168

Follow the waypoints in GPS route PRATHER-SHAVER

Prather is a small town where you can get gas and food, one of two places where Auberry Road intersects Hwy 168.
The Prather Ranger Station is 0.1 miles northeast up Hwy 168 from the intersection at waypoint PRATHR.

The supermarket which shares a parking lot with the Foster's Freeze has huge and cheap deli sandwiches. The gas station may take credit cards all night, and is the last reasonably priced gas before you head up the big hill by Tollhouse Rock. This big hill is 4-lane, the rest is 2-lane, and it's easy to get trapped behind a boat trailer. I once saw an engine actually glowing red from pulling a trailer, and I've seen several cars smoke their brakes on the way down. Downshift, because there are radar speed traps in the 60mph 4-lane section.

The town of Shaver Lake has some facilities, which might close early, and is just north of the Dinky Creek junction. Waypoint SHAVER marks the junction where you can turn east along Dinkey Creek to reach Courtright and Wishon reservoirs, or continue on Hwy 168 around Shaver Lake to Huntington Lake, Kaiser Pass, Edison and Florence Lake.

It's interesting to note that Hwy 168 ends where Kaiser Pass Road starts, but if it continued it might go over Kaiser Pass, skirt Florence Lake, and then go over Piute Pass to connect with the eastern portion of Hwy 168 which ends at Lake Sabrina and North Lake.

To reach The Wye (for Sequoia/Kings) from Fresno, go east on Hwy 180

Follow the waypoints in GPS route FRESNO-SEQUOIA WYE.

As described in the Fresno freeway section, get on Hwy 180 east from Fresno. About 9 miles east of McCall is the town of Minkler, where Hwy 180 abruptly turns south (waypoint MINKLR). Only a quarter of a mile later you must turn left (east) at a stop sign where more than one person has accidentally gone straight - watch out for the turn at waypoint 180180.

About 10 miles east of Minkler is the intersection of Hwy 180 with Hwy 63 (waypoint 180063). Those coming from the south may choose to exit Hwy 99 near Visalia and come up Hwy 63 instead of taking the routes described above, but you won't save much if any time.

24 miles east of Hwy 63 (past the intersection with Hwy 245), Hwy 180 brings you to The Wye. This intersection (waypoint THEWYE) is where Hwy 180 turns north (and then east) to Cedar Grove (Kings Canyon) and the Generals Highway continues east (and then turns south) to trailheads such as Rowell Meadow and Lodgepole.

Just over a mile north of The Wye is the Grant Grove ranger station (waypoint GRANTG) where you can pick up permits. There is a nice restaurant and a tacky gift shop in the same complex. They have gas, but hours are limited and it's expensive.

Useful Links: