Parking Issues at our trailheads

Over the last half century, the use of the Rubicon Trail has changed many times. Back in the day, almost everyone would drive the trail from Georgetown (not Loon Lake) to Lake Tahoe, like it was a one-way road. Twenty years ago, the majority of the use would access the Rubicon Trail on the Ellis Creek Intertie/Trail and head to the Little Sluice, wheel, party, shit and go home.

The current use seems to be to trailer your rig to the trailhead, street legal or green sticker, and go access the Rubicon Trail. This is happening at all of the access points. I’m more familiar with the Tahoe end of the trail.

This report focuses on the Tahoma trailhead but the side-by-sides have found Barker Pass and are parking trailers on forest road 03-04, just south of 03. For now, there seems to be plenty of open space to park there.

On July 9th, 2022, I drove to the Tahoma staging area to meet some fellow wheelers to do some trail maintenance. The scene along the paved road into the staging area is pictured below.

For the record, I counted probably 30 rigs and trailers parked along the paved road. Three quarters of those rigs were parked illegally.

The ticket that could be written is resource damage. Although many look like they are parked on dirt, it is not legal to park ninety degrees to the road.

Some of these areas have been used for parking for years. That doesn’t make it legal.

In the photo below, work was being done on the paved road and the contractors moved the large boulders in the picture in order to park their equipment during the process. When they were done, the boulders were not put back in place to prevent illegal parking.

This is the guy who really needs a ticket. The first photo doesn’t really show the issues due to the poor photography on my part.

But the follow-up photo clearly shows this idiot parking his trailer on a bush. That is clearly resource damage.

The following Monday, I sent an email, with these pictures, to the Forest Service and to the Rubicon Trail Foundation. As off this writing, I have received absolutely no response regarding this subject.

7-11-2022

Good Monday morning everyone,
 
This past weekend, I drove through the Tahoma staging area for the Rubicon Trail. The Lake Tahoe Hi-Lo’s were on our way to do trail maintenance on the Long Lake Trail and Forest Road 03-06.
 
Attached are several photos of the current parking situation, (taken Saturday July 9th, 2022) not only at the staging area but all along the paved road in to the staging area.
 
For years now there have been discussions about how to better manage the parking situation for the Rubicon Trail. Several ideas were even agreed upon but I have seen nothing done to prevent the illegal parking that is currently taking place for the Rubicon Trail.
 
Without doing anything to educate, enforce or engineer a better system, we can only assume it will get worse. And this was not even a holiday weekend. I counted 30 rigs with trailers parked before the staging area and another 20 parked in the staging area.
 
Safety must be the priority. This area needs to be managed in such a way that an emergency vehicle (police, fire, medic) going in to the staging area can get there even with a tow rig and trailer coming out.
 
Possible managing ideas that have been discussed, even agreed upon:
-no parking signs along the outer edge of the paved staging area
-no parking along the north side of the paved road
-physically harden both sides of the paved road to protect the forest

 
Ideas I don’t think have been floated before:
-expand the parking area, near current staging area or elsewhere along paved road
(I assume this is a no starter for the FS.)
-encouraging wheelers to drop trailers somewhere else, if bringing street legal rigs
-educate/encourage parking off Forest Road 03-04, side-x-sides already doing this
(This is at the top of Blackwood Canyon)
-public campaign to discourage trailer use for street legal vehicles
-parking at Homewood, drive to Rubicon via Noonchester Mine Road, $$$$$
(This could drastically change the character of the Noonchester Mine Road.)
-promote the parking of towing trucks ON their trailers while on the trail

 
This is an issue that needs immediate management. Although it is the responsibility of the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit, I think the better route to a solution is by getting as many minds as possible together to work out a solution. As soon as possible.
 
 
Doug Barr
-just a user-
 
 
 
CC: Jacob Quinn, Mike Gabor, Bob Sweeney, John Arenz, Randy Burleson

My fear, if this continues, is that the anti-OHV crowd will use this as a reason to close or restrict use of our OHV trails, specifically, the Rubicon Trail. I would not put it past the Forest Service to cite this illegal activity as a reason to go after legal OHV access and activities.

Don’t get me wrong. I encourage everyone to get out and enjoy out OHV trails, green sticker or street legal, but we need to learn to do it in a way that is not going to be held against us.

I will also encourage everyone to step up with ideas to solve the problem this problem before it hurts us. Contact the Forest Service, contact RTF, talk at your next club meeting. Maybe we need volunteers to go out and harden the edges of the paved road if the Forest Service refuses to do anything. FOTR?

.

Rubicon Ronin


Fire Restrictions in Place!

As of this writing, the Eldorado National Forest (ENF) has implemented fire restrictions regarding the use of fire, stoves and tools within their forest.

https://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/fseprd1042394.pdf

The owners at Rubicon Springs have also implemented a no campfire rule for the rest of the summer.

No word yet from the Tahoe National Forest but I’m sure it’s coming soon.

Please be fire safe any time you’re out enjoying our national forests.

.


Shame-less Self Promotion

As you guy read in a previous post, I was on the Rubicon Father’s Day weekend. Something I came across, that I wasn’t able to deal with on the spot, was a pile of a local home-owners pine needles.

I went back yesterday morning and it was still there, just 100 yards out of the staging area at the base of the first cobble rock climb.

At this point, I was wondering if the guy who dumped this pile was in a full-size pick-up. As I only had my mid-sized Chevy Colorado.

Almost done. I had a few people walk or drive by. I was able to convince everyone I was picking this stuff up not dropping it off.

Finally, it all fit. Almost.

And yes, I tarped the load so I wouldn’t get a ticket on the way to the dump.

With my Karma points earned for the day, I went back to my cabin to clear more trees for more defensible space.

.

Rubicon Ronin


California’s largest private landowner closes forest access to the public

This does not directly affect the Rubicon Trail or side trails on the Tahoe side but I think it might affect a few on the Loon Lake side:

https://fox40.com/news/local-news/californias-largest-private-land-owner-closes-forest-access-to-the-public/

CALIFORNIA, Due to the risk of wildfires Sierra Pacific Industries, which owns nearly 2 million acres of forestland in California, has closed public access into its wildlands starting July 1.

Sierra Pacific said that they normally provide public access to their wildlands for hiking, fishing, hunting and other outdoor activities.
“Despite some of the late spring rains, California is experiencing the driest conditions it has had in 1200 years,” said Andrea Howell, SPI spokesman. “To help protect our forest resources and public safety, Sierra Pacific is closing our California lands to public access and recreation.”
Sierra Pacific is citing the following reasons as to why they have closed their lands to the public:
As a fire prevention measure.
To provide for the recovery and restoration of areas impacted by wildfire.
To protect public safety, especially in active harvest areas.
To help prevent erosion of roads.
To deter illegal woodcutting.
To prevent damage to young, regenerated forest stands.
To deter illegal garbage dumping.
To prevent Christmas tree theft.
To protect sensitive research project areas and equipment. Monitoring equipment has been placed in areas where research is under way. Please do not disturb it.
Sierra Pacific said that they will continue monitoring their forests, weather conditions and other scenarios to determine when it will be safe to reopen their forests to the public.
The U.S. Forest Service has also been known to close sections of their forests to also mitigate the risk of wildfire and also allow crews to provided fuel load reduction.
So far this year the forest service has not announced any planned forest closures.


Can My Rig Make It?

I get this question quite often and recently ran in to it on another website. Let me do my best to answer that question. The problem is there is no easy answer. Driver skill is a huge factor in whether or not you can make it, or more specifically, make it without damage.

Here it is, the last piece of pavement before hitting the trail.

Just a very short drive up the trail, 0.3 miles to be specific, there is what some refer to as a “gatekeeper”. But it’s not. It is a very easy example of what your rig should be able to drive over if you want to run the Rubicon Trail. In the picture below, I stayed on the trail but went around the ‘gatekeeper’.

Further up the trail, here is an example of what a lot of the first four miles look like on the Tahoe side. Most of these rocks are more of an inconvenience than a challenge to any high clearance vehicle.

The trail is off and on rocky. After the gatekeeper, this is one of the trickier sections on the way to Miller Lake.

Typically, there are just enough rocks in the trail to prevent users from driving too fast.

Currently, there are many wet sections within the Tahoe National Forest. There is often standing water in this area. Some of the puddles are deep but most of them rocky bottom.

Just over four miles from the staging area is the turn at the “Y”. At the “Y” is mile marker 11.5, that marks 11.5 miles to Loon Lake. Going straight will take you to Barker Pass on Forest Road 03-04. Turning left keeps you on the Rubicon Trail (16E75). (FYI, it wasn’t placer until 2018). The temperament of the trail changes once you make this turn, to harder.

It’s not until you get to what I call the “Potato Patch” at the 5.4-mile mark, that things get serious. This section changes almost weekly. One trip the best line is left and two weeks later the better line is right.

The trail retains this difficulty, on and off, mostly off, until you get on Cadillac Hill and to “The Steps” or “Morris Rock” at mile 8.2, again from the staging area. The next half mile is the most exciting section on your way to Rubicon Springs! At this point, if you have to ask if your rig can make it, don’t try it.

For those wanting to get out in this area, but aren’t sure if they can make it, try it! If you think you can’t make it or just don’t want to try it, turn around. Remember, Turn Around, Don’t Go Around.

A very nice drive in the area is the loop from the Rubicon Trail staging area up and around to Barker Pass. The trail gets easier as you get further away from the Rubicon Trail. I have yet to run that road this season, so I can’t be 100% sure of that.

The Hobbit Trail (16E76) has the difficulty of the Potato Patch. The trick to that trail is to do it without using reverse. It turns left, right, left, through the whole trail, a lot of fun. The (old) Red Cabin Trail (16E79), is more of a dirt road and takes you to Barker Pass proper. From Barker Pass, the Middle Fork Trail (15N38) is on the mild side but pay attention. There is also a paved road down to Highway 89 from Barker Pass.

For the record, my odometer reads high, almost 10%. So, take the measurements as a guide.

Happy Trails!

.

Rubicon Ronin