Deer Valley Maintenance and opening!

August 3rd, the Deer valley Trail officially opened for the 2017 season. The Lake Tahoe Hi-Lo’s jumped at the opportunity to do some trail maintenance and open the trail.

The South County Trail Riders have adopted this trail but they were extremely busy getting the Cal4 Sierra Trek set up and running smooth. My thanks to them for that because Sierra Trek went very smooth. The Motherload Rock Crawlers were also out on the trail working with the Forest Service making final plans for the maintenance scheduled for the last three weekends in Sept.

So the Hi-Lo’s went to work. This was typical of what we found, trees either on the ground or ready to fall.

Tree snag up

We pulled out our saws and started cutting.


Once we got a system going, it went great. One team took off down the trail to deal with “THE” tree. More later. The second team would cut downed or hanging trees in to manageable lengths and would move on. The third team would clear the trail of the chopped up trees. We removed about 24 trees from the trail.

Tree snag down

When I refer to a tree across the trail as “THE” tree, it means it was a really big tree. This tree had been driven around by those breaking the law. We try and educate to fellow users to stay on the trail but there are those who don’t care.


Our crew used the bed of a truck to safely attack the tree.

40" log cut 1

40" log cut 2

With a lot of hard work, the first section of the tree was removed.

40" log 1st round

Some of the guys wanted souvenirs. See the photo of the month.

40" log, 42" bar

The last section was removed and the original route was reopened.

40" log 2nd round

The Hi-Lo’s returned to the trail on the 12th and removed even more trees in preparation of our Gambler’s Poker Run on the 19th of August.

Future Maintenance…

The mention of future maintenance refers to three weekends in Sept: 9/10, 16/17, 23/24. The plan is to move several hundred tons of rock to prevent erosion at the two creek crossings.

Please contact the Motherload Rock Crawlers if you plan on attending. Trailers are needed but not required.


Rubicon Ronin

Sierra Trek 2017

Okay, it’s a little outside the normal set of trails I write about but what a trip!

In 2016 I won a free pass to Sierra Trek. I dragged my CJ-7 up and down the mountain and had a great time. So much so I signed up to do it again this year. It was the 50th anniversary of the Sierra Trek.

Three of us from the Lake Tahoe Hi-Lo’s got together and ran the Thursday run. We were off at 7am and got to camp a 6pm. A very slow day. No issues, just slow.

Us at the first water crossing:


The Fordyce Trail has some interesting features, some of the trail looks like it’s been carved from the granite:


It is a 13 mile long trail that has some very hard spots. Our group bypassed Winch Hill One but most of the trail doesn’t have bypasses:


I think this was Winch Hill Two. My CJ-7 had this the easiest as the narrower, the better:


Winch Hill Three:


My Jeep looking up at Winch Hill Four:


Friday and Saturday in camp there was a vendor show. I set up my booth and handed out maps and stickers. There were a lot of people there as there were SUV runs, historic runs and an ATV run. Something for everyone.


It was a great weekend as no one in our group broke anything!

If you have the rig, Sierra Trek is something I highly recommend.




I finally got out on 16E16!

16E16 is the only motorcycle single track in the Rubicon area. I’ve been meaning to get my dual sport out on it for more than a year now. Well, I didn’t get the dual sport out but I did hike the trail.

Although this is an OHV trail, it’s primary users are hikers, although, I did see two mountain bikers. If you ride this trail, expect hikers around every turn, especially on weekends. Ride with caution.

The trail is about three miles long. It start at Barker Pass at the top of Forest Road 03. It ends at Ellis Peak but you need to walk/hike the last bit. There is a existing ‘trail’ that looks like you can ride to the top. Don’t! That trail is not legal. It is a loose rocky trail that is difficult and there is no place to turn around at the top! The first peak gives you a 360 degree view of Tahoe and everything west. You can hike a 1/4 mile or so to the actual Ellis Peak, just to the north, if you want to say you made the summit.

I would suggest riding this from the Rubicon end to the Barker Pass end. I started at the Barker Pass end and the trail started with a VERY steep climb. This climb had switch backs and large wood beams had been used as water bars. Tough but not impossible to negotiate on a motorcycle.


Just a little further up the trail there is a very technical climb.


Once past the early ugliness, the trail is really nice. Tight in places but doable. Look closely for the snow on the trail. It was August 6th.


The views from the Barker end were awesome.


The trail changes from wide open areas…


To a tight in the trees experience…


Again, I would suggest an out and back from the Rubicon or Ellis Peak end of the trail. You can get more then 3/4 of the trail covered without getting in to the tricky stuff. If you do the one-way, again, I suggest Ellis to Barker.

I’ll try to get more pictures and details on the 16E16 page of the website, after Sierra Trek.


Rubicon Ronin



Post Winter Hazards

It’s been a long winter. We all want to get out on our trails. Feel free to do so but travel with caution. Although the trail below looks inviting, look closer at the tree across the trail 100 yards out.


The picture below is why I really stopped here. This is the Middle Fork Trail up Blackwood Canyon. It parallels the paved Forest road 03 to Barker Pass. I’ve actually asked the FS to close the trail until repairs can be done.


My fear is someone not paying attention, more likely at night, might drive off the road,


Back to the pictured tree across the trail. There is evidence that people are going off trail to get around the tree. My motto: “Turn Around, Don’t Go Around”. If you come across such an obstacle, use your winch or a strap to clear the problem. If you can’t stay on the trail and clear the obstacle, turn around.


On upper Barker Pass Road, there is still a little snow wheeling to be done.


I didn’t take picture of all the downed trees I came across. Most were smaller or not blocking the entire trail. On a motorcycle, it’s much easier to get around a tree in the trail without doing resource damage.


There are plans in the works to get out to all the side trails off the Rubicon to clear the obstacles. We’ll leave the snow for you though.


Rubicon Ronin

Deer Valley to officially re-open!

I just received this email from the forest service:

On June 23rd the snow sensor at Blue Lakes recorded snow water content of less than 1 inch (  As stated in the Final Decision Notice for the Deer Valley 4wd Trail Meadow Restoration and Blue Lakes/Meadow Lake Road Maintenance Project,  the Deer Valley 4wd trail (19E01) will be opened for wheeled motorized vehicle use 6 weeks after documented snowmelt.  This means that the Forest expects the trail to be open to the public on August 3rd this year.

The Forest is also planning a number of volunteer work days in September to help implement trail work and meadow restoration along the Deer Valley 4wd Trail. Individuals interested in assisting with the repair/restorations should contact Sean McGinness ( for additional information.

Matt Brown Botanist

Forest Service

Eldorado National Forest

p: 530-647-5390

4260 Eight Mile Road Camino, CA 95709


Of course, I worry about lines like this one: “the Forest expects the trail to be open”

What the heck does that mean? Will they find another reason to close the trail? Will someone else step in and file another lawsuit?

Stay tuned!


Rubicon Ronin