Rubicon (staging area) Paved, Reopens

This morning (June 26th), 8am, the Tahoma Staging Area reopened after being closed for a week for the paving of the staging area and repairs to the access road.

The paved area will not be striped at this time. If the users continue to be able to figure out efficient parking, it will never be paved. The current plan is to post “No Parking” signs along the outside edge of the parking/staging area. This would provide a permanent drive through turn around area for those with trailers and emergency vehicles.

The access road along side the staging area was also paved. And yes, that ever present dip at the end of the pavement was filled in! This is the first entrance to the staging area:

Here is the second entrance and where that dip used to be:

And the last entrance:

The paving went all the way to the first rolling dip and even was placed up to the leading edge of the new kiosk concrete base:

And up to the toilets:

While they were there, the paving company was contracted to do many, many repairs to the access road:


There was always that right turn, coming from the lake, that had a pretty big drop. (looking back towards the lake)

That turn also got fill material to widen the turn and more corrugated pipe to lengthen the drain:

There were many more repairs to the access road.

Thanks go out to El Dorado County, Placer County, the USFS (Basin) and the contractor that did the work. Everyone worked together to fund it (CA State Parks, OHV Division grant), plan it and make it happen. The efforts to educate the public were mostly successful. There were many rigs with trailers parked in Blackwood Canyon, in many places.

There was only on instance of a Jeep driving around the road closed sign and in to the trail to the staging area, thinking he could get through. He was from Minnesota.


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Blackwood Canyon parking options

With the staging area closure June 21-25, access will be through Blackwood Canyon to the north about four miles.

The paved parking at Highway 89 is for the Kaspian Campground right there and day users. FYI, that is also a winter park area, permit required during the winter. Blackwood Canyon is a popular snow mobile area. There is OHV parking further up the canyon.

So, about two miles up the canyon, stay right onto the dirt road (15E38), before you go over Blackwood Creek:

At the Blackwood Canyon Campground, there is limited parking, pit toilets and maybe a dozen campsites that require reservations.

The drive up 15N38 is not difficult but you have to pay attention. At the top, there is more parking. This parking is accessible by driving the paved Forest Road 03 all the way to Barker Pass summit.

16E79 is marked with good signage. In this photo, you’re looking down Forest Road 03, the pit toilets for the Rim/PCT is off to the right at the white vehicle, 16E79 is off to the left. The Rim/PCT is visible to the lower left by the sign.

If you choose to take the really easy way to the Rubicon, stay straight on Forest Road 03. In two miles, look for the freshly downed tree on the left, that will be the sign for the left turn you need to take to get on to Forest Road 03-04. And that runs all the way to the Rubicon. 16E76 The Hobbit Trail, will be a right turn off 03-04 and is easy to miss.

There will be an effort to get sandwich sign boards out on the trails to mark the turns needed to do the reroute.


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Rubicon Trail CLOSED for PAVING!

Okay, I did that on purpose. They are only paving the Tahoma staging area and extending the access road.

June 21st through June 25th, the Rubicon Trail will be closed, at the Tahoe entrance. There will be reroutes available through Blackwood Canyon. See map below. Please plan accordingly.

Please do not try and sneak in the morning of the 21st or the evening of the 25th, wait until Saturday morning.

Coming out of the Rubicon, the easy reroute is Forest Road 03-04 over to Barker Pass and then down the paved Forest Road 03 to the lake. The more fun reroute is the Hobbit Trail (16E76) to Red Cabin (16E79) to Barker Pass and then down the Middle Fork Trail (15N38) to the lake.

This has been planned for many years now and is actually going to happen. The reasoning is to eliminate erosion and thus improve water quality (Keep Tahoe Blue) and to reduce dust in the basin. The reason for the solid closure is for the safety of the crew working and to speed up the process by not having to deal with outside vehicles.

Grant funding for this was obtained probably six years ago but by the time the actual plan to do it was in place the cost of paving was above the amount of the original grant and the project got put on hold.

It is my understanding that El Dorado County, namely Vickie Sanders, stepped in to help out with covering the extra cost through other grants. Thank you, Vickie. Here is a link to the El Dorado County press release:

The road in will be extended to the first rolling dip, about equal to furthest western edge of the staging area. That will eliminate that annoying dip right at the edge of the pavement. Hopefully, they will harden the first few feet of the dirt trail to prevent a similar development. That should be right about to the point I stood to take this picture. I do sometimes miss my old XJ, pictured.

The trees were removed last year and were available for firewood at the ATV rental parking area. I grabbed quite a few rounds. It will sort of be sad to burn them. There were still logs to be cut at the old ATV parking turn out. Bring a LONG saw as they are thick.

The new kiosk was built last year, the old one was removed and will be reused at another OHV trailhead. The paving should run right up to the concrete base of the kiosk.

There is a new 4’x8′ map posted on the kiosk. It’s a rough draft to check size and material. See below:

To start with, there will be no parking lines painted on the asphalt. The idea is to, one, save money by not painting, and two, allow the users to figure out how to property an efficiently park in the space allowed.

Some of the pot holes and the hard edges of the paved road in from the residential area will be also be addressed.

Here is a copy of the front page of the five page outline for the project. My chicken scratch notes as well.

Please be patient with this temporary closure. It will bring a much better staging area experience for both those going onto the trail and those coming off the trail.


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Colby Emergency Valve Stem – in use

Everyone should carry one or more of these on your rig.

I touted these in the past when they first hit the market. See link below. That was 5-years ago and until the other day, I hadn’t needed one.

Colby Emergency Tire Valve | The ‘Other’ Rubicon (

Well, it had to happen sooner or later. I tore a valve stem on my Jeep. I knew immediately it had happened. You can’t miss the sound of air rushing out. I’d love to tell you a story of the difficult terrain I was in that resulted in a rock reaching in to my wheel and ripping off my valve stem. The truth is, I was in my driveway washing my Jeep.

So, yes, the valve stems were probably ten years old. Yes, the tires are almost ten years old. New ones are on order but 2-months out. I actually hit the valve stem with the brush I was using and tore it at the base.

I tried to pull off the torn valve stem and the whole thing came out. The usual procedure is to push the remaining bits in to the wheel.

Since I heard it immediately, I threw a jack stand under the axle and finished washing the Jeep.

In comes the Colby Valve stem. Nothing like an unsolicited trail by fire.

The Colby valve stem slipped right in. This is the “emergency” version so it doesn’t require tools. The wingnut is turned to tighten the stem in to place.

Once tightened, is works like a normal valve stem.

After tightening it up, since I was in my driveway, I ran the hose from my air compressor reel out to the rig and filled it up. Now I have to wait for my tires to come in so I can retrieve my emergency valve stem!

Again, everyone should carry one of these. If not for you, then for the guy you’re wheeling with or the guy who broke in front of you.

Available everywhere, here’s a link to Amazon. I was not compensated in any way by Colby or Amazon.

AmazonSmile: Colby Valve Emergency Valve Stem Replacement (Black): Automotive


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The Rubicon is WET!

A small group of Lake Tahoe Hi-Lo’s and a few others, ventured out on to the Rubicon last weekend (5/15-16) and it was still very wet. Our objective was make sure the Long Lake Trail, at the base of Cadillac Hill, was clear of dead fall and was safe to travel. It’s now clear. Please remember the trail ends at the 0.91 mile mark from the Rubicon and that camp ground is NOT a drive through loop.

So, yes, we are at the height of the snow melt. But with the amount of water on the trail, we need to Tread Lightly!

The word from those who are supposed to be maintaining the trail is that no work will be done on the Tahoe National Forest this year (2021) to prevent future water holes on the trial. The 2021 focus will be paving the staging area and rebuilding the rolling dips within the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit.

On the way out, we documented the current trail conditions.

There were a few spots that we had to drive over snow. One spot was a large berm in a pool of water. A couple of people with a few shovels and it could be knocked down rather quickly.

Again, please Tread Lightly!

Stay on the trail.

Drive slowly through all water.

Be safe.


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