With more than 700 miles of waterways there are bound to be a few scenic stretches along the San Joaquin-Sacramento Delta perfect for an afternoon cruise.
But where’s the best spot to feel the wind in your hair and get an appreciation for one of Northern California’s crown jewels?
It all depends what you’re looking for.
Everything from tree-lined rural roads to deserted county crossings line and criss-cross the 1,100 square mile area that is popular with naturists, hunters, anglers, recreational outdoorsmen and those just looking to get away from it all for a few hours on a lazy Sunday.
Whether you’re Paul Newman soaking up the sun in your convertible or blaring the radio in your ranch pickup, you’re bound to find something on a back road where traffic and trouble aren’t even words that exist in the dictionary.
Here are a few places worth checking out:
• Eight Mile Road – Heading west off of this Interstate 5 exit will take you literally out into the middle of nowhere. But it’s out on the side roads where you’ll find access to some of the most beautiful riverside roads in San Joaquin County. It’s not hard to imagine that any one of these desolate destinations was where Lucas Jackson – Paul Newman’s character in “Cool Hand Luke” – served out his term in a “Florida” prison. Rumor has it the blue eyed actor used to take his Mercury convertible into nearby Stockton on days he wasn’t filming. He very well could have traversed some of these same roads. Make a left on Bacon Island Road at Honker Cut Marine and head down towards King Island Resort. Stop in and ask for other destinations.
• Two Rivers Road – This South Manteca spot was completely underwater when nearby levees broke and caused the monstrous flood of 1997, and it’s not a very long drive. But neither of those deter from the quiet beauty that is the San Joaquin River near where it intersects with the Stanislaus. Valley oak trees provide shady spots for quiet reflection if one opts to get out of the car and take a meandering stroll, and the river access points are quite popular with fishermen. But if you’re up for taking a quiet drive through the country and past the river, this is the place to do it. Take either Manteca Road (Main Street) or Airport Way south. Manteca Road eventually becomes Division Road – you’ll have to make a left off of Airport. Turn onto Two Rivers and follow it around.
• Guard Road/Correia Road/Potato Road – Whatever it is that you want to call it, the hugs and turns and corners along some of the Delta’s sloughs give a picturesque view of what truly exists out there on the water. The popular Tower Park Marina rests at the end of the route and means that the channels are likely to be full of boaters towing wakeboarders or heading back to cap off another day out on the water. That still doesn’t take away from the uniqueness of a road that follows every bend to give the driver the unique experience of following Mother Nature in all of her glory. It’s a perfect place for a picnic or just a chance to enjoy some quality tunes and a few rays of sunshine. To get there take I-5 to Highway 12 (Flag City) and turn left. Make a left onto Guard Road and follow it along the water. It eventually becomes Potato Road and merges back into Highway 12 past Tower Park Marina.
— JASON CAMPBELL
209 staff reporter