Above is a link to the El Dorado County Rubicon Trail page announcing the temporary trail closure.
UPDATE: At this time, El Dorado County can only close the portion of the trail within El Dorado County. There has been no word if the Tahoe National Forest will close any portion of the trail within Placer County. The closure is for safety while using a helicopter to transport material to Cadillac Hill.
Maintenance will be taking place on Cadillac Hill, the rolling dips between Observation and the top of Cadillac Hill and the Tahoe side Mud Hole and the Forest Service Bypass around the Mud Hole.
Trees have already been dropped to further block the original trail at the Mud Hole.
You should be able to access side trail such as the Richardson Lake Trail to Sourdough Hill and the Buck Lake Trail to Ellis Peak and Ellis Lake. The loop from Blackwood Canyon (Barker Pass) down to the intersection of the Rubicon (Forest Road 03-04) will probably be open.
Please don’t drive further west than the intersection of the Rubicon and Forest Road 03-04 unless you are an active volunteer.
So, I get a random phone call late Friday afternoon. I actually missed the call and just listened to the voice message. I didn’t get all of the details but something about a guy, Dan, stuck on the Ellis Peak Trail, a side trail off the Rubicon on the Tahoe side.
I called him back and got the short story. Slipped off to the side of the trail, rocks gave away underneath, slipped farther off to the side. No winch points anywhere to be found. Could I help him out?
An email and a few phone conversations later. I had a friend and fellow Lake Tahoe Hi-Lo, Paul, lined up to take two rigs out (never travel alone) and get this guy a winch point to get him unstuck. Saturday morning 9am we were at the staging area ready to help this guy out.
I should mention that I was running later that expected as I left my phone on the charger and had to go home after fueling to get it. Only a 15-minute dely. I actually picked up the guy where he was staying and gave him a ride to the staging area and then his rig. But wait, he forgot his keys to the stuck rig and we met his wife half way back. Now 30-minutes late.
Paul and I pulled up on the rig which ended up being on the Buck Lake Trail. We got out, surveyed the situation and then I said to Dan, “if you had sent me a picture, I would have brought more help”.
This guys Jeep was completely off the trail on a 45-degree slope. I have no idea why this thing hadn’t tumbled down the hill. Then I heard the story of his wife and two large dogs bailing out the passenger side, the high side, and then the driver, Dan, climbing out.
Paul and I had a plan but didn’t like it. So, we decided to drop back, punt, call in reinforcements and come back the next day.
Note red circle around Jeep hanging on cliff.
More phone calls and emails, this time with pictures. The Hi-Lo’s stepped up and we went back in at 8:30am the next day with six rigs. One of which was a bright yellow, 8900 pound Unimog!
The initial set up, using the Unimog as the anchor and a winch and snatch block on each end to pull the Jeep a little sideways, just pulled the Unimog toward the Jeep.
Both winching rigs had a back up rig anchoring them to prevent them from getting putted forward.
I have to admit it was a beautiful place to spend a day at Tahoe.
To prevent the Unimog from getting pulled sideways, I had to drive up the trail and work around to a position above the Unimog and send down a 200’ winch line extension to secure the Unimog.
A second rig would have been nice to anchor me but all I had was a boulder with a tow strap around it.
That allowed the Jeep to be pulled side ways to get two tires on the trail, sort-of. The lines were reconfigured to pull the Jeep forward. A come-along from the bumper of the Unimog to the rocker guards of the Jeep was used to keep tension sideways.
Three hours onsite and the Jeep was back on the trail. No body got hurt and no further damage took place.
It was a very rewarding day working with a bunch of great guys and helping someone had had only met the day before.
There was meeting yesterday with El Dorado County, Placer County Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit and CA State Parks. Also in attendance were representatives from the Rubicon Trail Foundation and of course me.
The plan was to meet at the Placer County building in Tahoe City and talk about the winter snow berm, possible winter parking and work to be done at the staging area. Well, the invite list got so large that the meeting was moved to the Tahoma staging area. Outside and Covid-19 safe.
I was surprised to see that work had started in the area. Let’s start with the new kiosk. It will be going in just to the left of the current kiosk. The new kiosk will be twice as large as the current sign with the new FS map 4’x8′! You can barely make out the four steel stakes that will outline the concrete footprint of the kiosk base.
Paving the staging area has been in the works for more than five years but until now, always as a plan. Yesterday, it was clear that the FS is going forward with the paving. The trees within the staging area have been cut down and will be available for firewood some time soon.
The trees along the road, between the staging area and the road will remain. The removal of the trees will allow for more parking and make parking and paving a whole lot easier. At this time, there are no plans to paint any parking stripes. The plan is to let the users figure it out.
Right now, the dates for actual paving will be as early as possible next summer (2021). This will depend on the winter snowfall and air temperatures. Access to the Rubicon through the Tahoma staging area will be closed for a few days due to paving. Access to the Rubicon will be available through Blackwood Canyon.
The parking area might expand a small bit as a result of this work. The Rubicon itself will be paved all the way up to where the current kiosk stands. So that ever present hole at the end of the pavement will be gone. Other improvements will include picnic tables in the grassy area behind the bathrooms. El Dorado County and their grant work is also a part of the funding for the paving.
Winter parking was briefly discussed as a future project with no current plans to move it forward. The idea floated was to pave the quad rental parking area and to plow the trail in to that point. Again, there are no plans to make this happen, it was just talked about.
The real reason for the meeting was to discuss the snow berm that builds up at the entrance due to plowing the residential neighborhood. I have personally been at this fight for more than five years, closer to six.
Here is a map of the intersection in question. I left several of these with Peter Kraatz of Placer County.
This is how the intersection typically looks in the winter. The “Rubicon” is the fourth leg of the intersection not really show here as most people find it this way in winter.
Explaining my markings: the yellow curves show the ditch to the north of the Rubicon trail, the red arrow shows how users accessed the trail last winter as Placer plow crews pushed snow from the intersection to the southwest corner of Evergreen and the Rubicon, the red triangles represents the snow in the intersection, the green arrows are where I’m suggesting Placer puts that snow.
The next image actually shows the Rubicon. The orange dots are suggested snow stakes so the users know the best direction to access the Rubicon to stay on the pavement and out of the ditch.
We are not asking Placer to plow the Rubicon Trail nor are we asking for parking along Evergreen. We just don’t want Placer piling snow on the west side that blocks access to the Rubicon Trail.
No firm dates for the next step. Placer County is working on a public meeting to discuss the issue. Hopefully in November.