California State Route 168

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State Route 168

SR 168 highlighted in red
Route information
Maintained by Caltrans
Length124 mi[1] (200 km)
  • National Forest Scenic Byway.svg Sierra Heritage Scenic Byway
  • National Forest Scenic Byway.svgCalifornia Scenic State.svg Ancient Bristlecone Scenic Byway
RestrictionsThe segment from Lake Sabrina east to Aspendell in the eastern Sierra is closed most winters due to snow.[2][3]
Section 1
West end SR 41 / SR 180 in Fresno
East endHuntington Lake
Section 2
West endLake Sabrina
Major intersections US 395 from Bishop to Big Pine
East end SR 266 at Oasis
CountryUnited States
CountiesFresno, Inyo, Mono
Highway system
SR 167 SR 169

State Route 168 (SR 168) is an east-west state highway in the U.S. state of California that is separated into two distinct segments by the Sierra Nevada. The western segment runs from State Routes 41 and 180 in Fresno east to Huntington Lake along the western slope of the Sierra. The eastern segment connects Lake Sabrina in the Eastern Sierra to State Route 266 in the community of Oasis, just to the west of the Nevada border. The eastern segment of SR 168 also forms a concurrency with U.S. Route 395 between Bishop and Big Pine.

Route description

Highway 168 along Bishop Creek, Eastern Sierra

The western segment of SR 168 begins as the Sierra Freeway in southeast Fresno at its interchange with Highway 180. After reaching Shephard Avenue at the northeast edge of Clovis, it becomes the two-lane Tollhouse Road before it begins its ascent up the Sierra Foothills. Near Humphreys Station, Tollhouse Road branches off and takes a direct route northeast to Tollhouse, while SR 168 bypasses northwest through Prather. SR 168 and Tollhouse Road then merge again north of Tollhouse. In Ockenden, SR 168 changes from Tollhouse Road to Huntington Lake Road. The highway then continues east up the Sierra Nevada, passing Shaver Lake before ending at Huntington Lake.

Before the reconstruction of urban Route 168 as a freeway, the route started at SR 41 and Shaw Avenue in Fresno. SR 168 ran along Shaw Avenue, Clovis Avenue, Third Street (Clovis), and Tollhouse Road to the current end of the freeway.

SR 168 cannot be used to cross the Sierra Nevada. The closest crossings of the Sierra Nevada are SR 120 via Tioga Pass to the north and Sherman Pass to the south. Both of these passes are accessible in warmer months only.

The eastern segment of SR 168 has its western terminus at Lake Sabrina on the eastern slope of the Sierra Nevada. This rural mountain road runs east to the town of Bishop, then joins U.S. Route 395 for 14.6 miles, and separates from 395 in Big Pine. SR 168 then climbs into the White Mountains through Westgard Pass, passing the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest. From here it traverses Deep Springs Valley, home of Deep Springs College, before crossing into Fish Lake Valley, where the segment ends at SR 266, just west of the Nevada Border. The segment of the highway from Lake Sabrina east to the community of Aspendell is subject to closure to most vehicles during the winter months, usually not opening until mid- or late-April, due to snow removal.[2][3] The winter road closure gate is actually located to the southwest of Aspendell.[4]

SR 168 is part of the California Freeway and Expressway System,[5] and in the Fresno and Clovis city limits is part of the National Highway System,[6] a network of highways that are considered essential to the country's economy, defense, and mobility by the Federal Highway Administration.[7] SR 168 is eligible to be included in the State Scenic Highway System,[8] and is officially designated as a scenic highway by the California Department of Transportation from Camp Sabrina to Brockman Lane on the Lone Pine Indian Reservation.[9]

Two portions of SR 168 are designated as National Forest Scenic Byways: the segment between Clovis and Huntington Lake is the Sierra Heritage Scenic Byway, while the segment from Camp Sabrina to Brockman Lane is the Ancient Bristlecone Scenic Byway.[10][11]


The eastern part of the route, from the eastern over Westgard Pass to the Nevada state line near Lida, Nevada predates the era of numbered highways and dates to the auto trail era as part of the Midland Trail, one of the earliest transcontinental roads in the USA. It was at Big Pine that the Midland trail forked in its westward journey to its eventual western termini, Los Angeles and San Francisco. The western descent from Westgard Pass into the Owens Valley was described as a "Welcome to California" view in the route guides for the Midland trail.[12] Though SR 168 is the original routing of the Midland Trail, the route was realigned numerous times, and signs today mark U.S. Route 6 as the routing of the Midland Trail from California east to Denver, Colorado.

When the state of California began conceiving its own route network, modern SR 168 was conceived as a trans-Sierra highway connecting Fresno and Bishop. The proposed route, named the High Sierra Piute Highway, would have taken the highway over the 11,453-foot (3,491 m) Piute Pass.[13] However, the two segments were never connected. The rugged Sierra crest and eastern escarpment would have made construction very difficult and today two congressionally designated wilderness areas block the way: Kings Canyon National Park and the John Muir Wilderness.[14] The traversable route now comprises Kaiser Pass Road from Huntington Lake to Florence Lake, various hiking trails from Florence Lake and through the Piute Pass to North Lake, and North Lake Road to a point along SR 168 east of where the highway connects to Lake Sabrina.[13]

As originally designated SR 168 extended to the Nevada state line. The easternmost section of SR 168 was transferred to California State Route 266 in 1986.[15]

Major intersections

Except where prefixed with a letter, postmiles were measured on the road as it was in 1964, based on the alignment that existed at the time, and do not necessarily reflect current mileage. R reflects a realignment in the route since then, M indicates a second realignment, L refers to an overlap due to a correction or change, and T indicates postmiles classified as temporary (for a full list of prefixes, see California postmile § Official postmile definitions).[16] Segments that remain unconstructed or have been relinquished to local control may be omitted. The numbers reset at county lines; the start and end postmiles in each county are given in the county column.

FRE R0.29-65.84
FresnoR0.291 SR 41 (Yosemite Freeway) / SR 180 (Sequoia-Kings Canyon Freeway) – Lemoore, Paso Robles, Yosemite, Kings Canyon, Kerman, MendotaWestbound exit and eastbound entrance; signed as exits 1A (west) and 1B (east); west end of SR 168; SR 41 exit 128A; SR 180 east exit, west exit 60
R0.991CMcKinley AvenueSigned as exit 1 eastbound; serves Fresno Yosemite International Airport
R2.022Shields Avenue
R3.043Ashlan Avenue
R4.264Shaw AvenueFormer SR 168; serves California State University, Fresno
ClovisR5.636Bullard Avenue
R6.877Herndon Avenue
R8.048Fowler Avenue
R9.159Temperance Avenue
R10.59Owens Mountain Parkway, Tollhouse Road westEast end of freeway
R11.85Shephard Avenue
15.47Academy Avenue – Sanger, Kingsburg
T22.70Tollhouse Road eastConnects northeast to Tollhouse
T24.70Millerton Road – Friant
PratherT30.20Auberry Road – Millerton Lake
R36.18Tollhouse Road westConnects southwest to Tollhouse
Huntington Lake65.84Kaiser Pass Road – Mono Hot Springs, Edison Lake, Florence LakeEast end of western section of SR 168
Huntington Lake Road – Huntington LakeContinuation beyond beyond the east end of western section of SR 168
Gap in route
INY R0.00-54.70
R0.00Lake Sabrina (Lake Sabrina Road)Continuation beyond the west end of eastern section of SR 168
R1.25Westbound winter closure gate
115.40[N 1]

US 395 north (Main Street) / East Line Street – Bridgeport, Reno
West end of US 395 overlap; former US 6 north; East Line Street serves Eastern Sierra Regional Airport
Big Pine100.83[N 1]

US 395 south / County Road – Big Pine, Independence, Los Angeles
East end of US 395 overlap; former US 6 south
20.81Death Valley Road – Saline Valley, Eureka Valley, Scotty's Castle
32.23[19]Westgard Pass, elevation 7,271 feet (2,216 m)[19]
MNO 0.00-1.45
SR 266 to US 95 – Dyer
East end of SR 168; SR 266 north is former SR 168 east
1.000 mi = 1.609 km; 1.000 km = 0.621 mi
  1. ^ a b Indicates that the postmile represents the distance along US 395 rather than SR 168.


  1. ^ a b California Department of Transportation (July 2007). "Log of Bridges on State Highways". Sacramento: California Department of Transportation.
  2. ^ a b "Winter Driving Tips". Caltrans. Retrieved January 2, 2023.
  3. ^ a b "Snow Leaves Eastern Sierra Mountain Roads Closed for the Season". KCET. Retrieved 2017-08-03.
  4. ^ "Bishop Area Winter Map" (PDF). Bishop Area Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Bureau. Retrieved 2017-08-03.
  5. ^ "Article 2 of Chapter 2 of Division 1". California Streets and Highways Code. Sacramento: California Office of Legislative Counsel. Retrieved February 6, 2019.
  6. ^ Federal Highway Administration (March 25, 2015). National Highway System: Fresno, CA (PDF) (Map). Scale not given. Washington, DC: Federal Highway Administration. Retrieved September 17, 2017.
    Federal Highway Administration (March 25, 2015). National Highway System: California (South) (PDF) (Map). Scale not given. Washington, DC: Federal Highway Administration. Retrieved September 17, 2017.
  7. ^ Natzke, Stefan; Neathery, Mike & Adderly, Kevin (June 20, 2012). "What is the National Highway System?". National Highway System. Washington, DC: Federal Highway Administration. Retrieved July 1, 2012.
  8. ^ "Article 2.5 of Chapter 2 of Division 1". California Streets & Highways Code. Sacramento: California Office of Legislative Counsel. Retrieved February 6, 2019.
  9. ^ California Department of Transportation (August 2019). "Officially Designated State Scenic Highways and Historic Parkways" (XLSX). Sacramento: California Department of Transportation. Retrieved September 17, 2017.
  10. ^ Staff. "Ancient Bristlecone Scenic Byway (Route 168)". America's Byways. Federal Highway Administration. Archived from the original on October 23, 2011. Retrieved October 23, 2011.
  11. ^ Staff. "Sierra Heritage Scenic Byway (Route 168)". America's Byways. Federal Highway Administration. Archived from the original on October 23, 2011. Retrieved October 23, 2011.
  12. ^ Westgard, A.L. "Motor Routes to the California Expositions". Highway History. Federal Highway Administration. Retrieved June 25, 2012.
  13. ^ a b "The High Sierra Piute Highway" (PDF). US Forest Service. 2015. Retrieved October 4, 2017.
  14. ^ "State Route 168 Transportation Concept Report" (PDF). California Department of Transportation. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2017-02-11. Retrieved 2017-08-03.
  15. ^ California State Assembly. An act to amend Sections 318, 341, 343, 360, 366, 370, 374, 388, 389, 403, 425, 468, 548, 624, 2104, and 2107 of, to add Section 632 to, and to repeal Sections 322.1, 355.1, 417, and 622.2 of, the Streets... 1985–1986 Session of the Legislature. Statutes of California. State of California. Ch. 928, pp. 3215–3216.
  16. ^ a b California Department of Transportation. "State Truck Route List". Sacramento: California Department of Transportation. Archived from the original (XLS file) on June 30, 2015. Retrieved June 30, 2015.
  17. ^ California Department of Transportation, All Traffic Volumes on CSHS, 2005 and 2006
  18. ^ California Department of Transportation, California Numbered Exit Uniform System, SR-168 Eastbound and SR-168 Westbound, accessed February 2008
  19. ^ a b "Elevation and Location of Summits and Passes in California". California Department of Transportation. Archived from the original on March 1, 2017.

External links