Little Dragon, Highway 49

Northern California Motorcycle Ride – Little Dragon – Hwy 49 (Mariposa, CA)

237 miles (5 hours, 27 minutes)

Starbucks Coffee – 4311 Town Center Blvd #450, El Dorado Hills, CA 95762

Hotel Jeffery & Magnolia Saloon – 5001 Main St, Coulterville, CA 95311

Greeley Hill Market – 6386 Greeley Hill Rd, Coulterville, CA 95311

Fremont’s Fort – 37.5705680, -120.1198920

Yesterday, Bob and I (and a couple riding buddies) headed south on Highway 49 to ride the Little Dragon, a 15-mile stretch of Hwy 49 between Coulterville, CA and Bear Valley, CA with fun twisties and wonderful views…a great day trip to start the Spring riding season!

The Little Dragon is California’s version of Tennesee’s and North Carolina’s famous Tail of the Dragon. The Tail of the Dragon is a popular destination for motorcycle riders and sports car enthusiasts worldwide and it consists of an 11-mile stretch of highway with a total of 318 turns. The Little Dragon is actually 5 miles longer than the Tail of the Dragon, but with only approximately 45 turns. Here is a photo of the Little Dragon that I took from the southernmost vantage point, Fremont’s Fort:

The Little Dragon (Hwy 49 from Coulterville, CA to Bear Valley, CA)


General John C. Fremont, 1813-1890, a noted military man, explorer, topographer, senator & businessman, Fremont was also a miner. He settled in Mariposa County living just outside Bear Valley.

He operated the Josephine, Pine Tree & Princeton mines and other claims. In 1858, he returned from his travels to operate his mines and found many had been “jumped”. In taking them back, a feud developed with several groups, one being the “Hornitas League” which tried to seize one of his mines. After that incident, a fort was built to defend the “only” access to the mines. Afterward, his battles were in the courtroom.

Dedicated by
Matuca Chapter 1849
E Clampus Vitus
May 29, 1994 (5999)
Credo Quia Absurdum

Fremont's Fort at The Little Dragon (Hwy 49 from Coulterville, CA to Bear Valley, CA)

Before we fueled up and rode the Little Dragon, we stopped at the Magnolia Saloon at Hotel Jeffery, a popular lunch stop destination for motorcycle riders who come to ride the Little Dragon or for travelers heading to Yosemite National Park from the San Francisco Bay Area.


Built originally in the late 1840’s to serve the Mexican community as a Cantina and Fandango Hall. The succeeding Jeffery Hotel has been warmly praised in the memoirs of the 49er and travelers.

The hotel is among the oldest owned and operated by one family in the State of California. The current and third generation host is Edward Sackett, husband of the late Violet Thompson Sackett, daughter of Sarah Jeffery Thompson.

Matuca Chapter E Clampus Vitus
May 1973

Established in 1851, the Magnolia Saloon is California’s oldest operating saloon and even still has authentic pair of wooden saloon doors at the entry…and one of the best BBQ pulled pork sandwiches I’ve ever had! They also have a pool room and outdoor seating in a quaint courtyard setting. The Magnolia Saloon located at 5001 Main Street in Coulterville, CA is open Friday to Sunday from 11:00am to closing and Monday and Thursday from 1:00pm to closing. For more information about Hotel Jeffery and the Magnolia Saloon, please visit their website.

If you’re in Coulterville, CA and need to fuel up, the nearest gas station is 6 miles up the road in Greeley Hill. Main Street will take you up there and the Greeley Hill Market and Shell gas station will be on your right side.

Nevada City, Humpty Dumpty Kitchen

Northern California Motorcycle Ride – Nevada City – Humpty Dumpty Kitchen (Grass Valley, CA)

123 miles (3 hours)

The Purple Place Bar & Grill – 363 Green Valley Rd, El Dorado Hills, CA 95762

Mine Shaft – 222 Broad St, Nevada City, CA 95959

Humpty Dumpty Kitchen – 1711 E. Main St, Grass Valley, CA 95945

The Purple Place Bar & Grill – 363 Green Valley Rd, El Dorado Hills, CA 95762