Bay Area to Sacramento
1) Mace Road. Exit 75; get back on the highway right after the Yolo fruit stand. It’s tempting to try other exits and frontage roads, but many just end up in cornfields, or dead-ending into the Yolo Wildlife Reserve.
2) The traffic has to be really stopped to try this one because it takes you far out of your way, but if you’re desperate, take SR-113 north towards Woodland (Exit 70). In Woodland, take Interstate 5 south, and then do one of two things; either take it back to 80 where it meets up again at Exit 86, or cut off more of 80 if you want, by just past the airport turning L (north) onto SR-70/99 for a little bit until Elkhorn Rd (E14), which will take you back to 80 at Exit 98 in Citrus Heights.
Sacramento to Truckee
When those light-up signs say traffic in Applegate due to chain control, they really mean it.
Exit Auburn, exit 119B, SR-49 towards Grass Valley. 49 meets 20 in Grass Valley. Turn R onto 20, which will bring you back to 80 at Eagle Lakes Rd (Exit 164), just a few exits before Sugarbowl.
If you decided to stay on 80 past Auburn but then realized the error of your ways, you can also pick up this shortcut up by getting off in Bowman, Clipper Gap, Applegate, or Colfax, but you’ll have to do some driving on some pretty small roads to get to 49, which can be scary if the plow hasn’t been through recently.
If 80 is bad coming back down the mountain, get off at Soda Springs Rd. (exit 174) and turn R onto Donner Pass Road (Old Highway 40). This can get you as car as Cisco Grove (Exit 165), where you’ll have to get back on 80 for a while.
You can also get off in Baxter (Exit148B) and veer right, driving through tiny Alta and Dutch Flat, but you have to get back on at Exit 145 so this is not that great unless 80 is really stopped.
We would love to know YOUR shortcut!