PLACERVILLE, CA – The upper part of the Richardson Lake Road (14N39) on the Pacific Ranger District in the Eldorado National Forest is now open for motorized vehicle use, completing the final phase of corrective work on this route.
Richardson Lake Road is on the far northeastern end of the forest, and must be accessed through roads leading from the Lake Tahoe area. This 2.65 mile road is used to access Richardson Lake for camping and fishing, and travel to the top of Sourdough Hill to enjoy the scenic vistas, including a good view towards the Rubicon Trail. The route also provides access to the Pacific Crest Trail. A 4WD vehicle must be used to reach this road.
The first phase of work allowed the Richardson Lake Road to be re-opened up to the Pacific Crest Trail beginning in July 2014. Recently, improvements to the upper part of the road were completed in which a rolling dip was installed; an existing sediment basin was emptied and enlarged; and rock was placed over areas of bare ground. “These measures will help prevent erosion and protect delicate meadow ecosystems while allowing recreationists to enjoy one of the most popular motorized trails in the forest,” said District Ranger Richard Thornburgh.
The Richardson Lake Trail (14N39) was identified as one of 18 routes in the Eldorado National Forest travel system which needed corrections to comply with the environmental protection guidelines in the Sierra Nevada Plan. These routes were closed in 2012 to complete further analysis and make corrections to ensure the hydrologic connectivity of meadows would not be significantly impacted by motorized vehicle use.
Other routes which have re-opened after meadow protection work was completed are:
Barrett Lake 4WD Trail – opened July 23, 2015
Woods Spur, 10N01B – opened July 7, 2015
Mud Lake section of the Carson Emigrant Trail is now open up to Mud Lake, 17E32, and Allen’s Camp – opened June 2015
09N08 Stockton Camp Road – opened September 2014
11NY32 47 Mile Road – opened October 2014
16E33 North Shanty Spur – opened November 2014
10N14 Mule Canyon – opened November 2014
10N13 Schneider Camp Road up to the new parking area near the old barn spur road – opened November 2014
For more information about work in progress to re-open additional routes, visit the Travel Management section of the Eldorado National Forest website at www.fs.usda.gov/eldorado.
So, I headed out to the Rubicon to place more carsonite trail markers, and came across a large “Road work ahead” sign at the staging area. I was meeting John Briggs, the Friends of the Rubicon Tahoe side lead. We moved markers at a few of the campsites and later placed markers at the intersection of Forest Road 03 (Barker Pass Road) and 03-04.
After getting our volunteer commitments done, we headed up the Richardson Lake Trail (14N39) to see what was actually going on. We knew that the last ‘meadow’ was scheduled for work but wanted to see for ourselves.
On our way up the Rubicon earlier, we came across a HUGE dump truck. It was a Volvo 725. I believe that means a 25 yard bed. I had earlier asked the size of the hauler (before seeing it) and he said it could do 20 tons. This is a similar machine to the ones Placer used to haul so much material last summer. I think it was the same contractor.
We drove up 14N39 to the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT), where the trail temporarily ends and walked the short distance from there. There we met Tim Merten. He is a Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit (LTBMU) civil engineer on loan to the Eldorado National Forest (ENF) to deal with the “42 Meadow Route Closures”.
At the ‘meadow’, there was a very large excavator working the section of trail that goes through the ‘meadow’. The plan calls for digging down almost two feet, laying cloth that will prevent the rock from sinking but allow water to pass, placing rip-rap about the size of a football, smaller rock on top of that and finally 3/4 crushed rock as ‘drain rock’. The final product should be able three inches above the grade of the ‘meadow’.
I was told they planned on three weeks to complete the work and I wondered if they were going to place each rock by hand.
What I later learned was the plan also calls for rebuilding twenty five (25) rolling dips along the trail as they work their way out.
With any luck, we’ll be driving to the top of Sourdough by the 20th!