Due to the weather over the Sierra these past few days, El Dorado County has pushed back plans to use a helicopter to fly in material to be used to maintain the Rubicon Trail. The new closure dates are May 11th through May 15th. That includes the upcoming weekend of the 14th and 15th.
A photo from a previous helicopter delivery to the Rubicon Trail:
From the El Dorado County “Parks” page:
Rubicon update: Due to the upcoming weather on Sunday and Monday the maintenance project has been pushed to May 11th. Unfortunately we will need to close the Rubicon Trail through the weekend. The trail will be closed May 11th -May 15th. We are sorry for the inconvenience, and are working diligently to get this project done before Memorial Day Weekend. Thank you for your cooperation.
Here’s my problem with this change, it was not properly communicated down to the actual users that need to know this information.
El Dorado County has a Rubicon Trail page on their website. At the time of this writing, that page has absolutely no information on the change of the closure dates. In order for the users to find the closure information, users must go to the ‘Parks’ page of El Dorado County, as quoted above.
For the record, it is also not posted on the website of the one Rubicon Trail specific advocacy group, the Rubicon Trail Foundation.
Users should not have to search to learn about the current conditions of the Rubicon Trail. Major changes, such as temporary closures, and even minor pieces of information, should be sent out by the agency closing the trail, not just posted. OHV advocacy groups should latch on to those press releases and forward them to local clubs and post the information on OHV forums, let alone post them on their own website.
Every year, tens of thousands of dollars are donated to OHV advocacy groups. If those groups and agencies fail to inform you of critical information about your local trail, specifically the world-famous Rubicon Trail, are you getting your money’s worth?
The Rubicon Trail will be closed from Monday May 9th through Friday May 13th in order to safely fly helicopters in order to deliver materials needed for trail maintenance. This closure will only affect the El Dorado County portion of the trail. Tahoe side access will still be available to the users.
From El Dorado County…
The Rubicon Trail will be closed from 5/9-5/13/22 due to the work done during the Helicopter Project to improve the trail. Please continue to check the parks website for updates as weather may change the dates for the project. Thank you.
There is currently a severe lack of communication among those groups, agencies and individuals with an interest in the Rubicon Trail.
I provided an extensive list of questions to El Dorado County, after Vickie Sanders offered to put together the meeting. She reached out to all of the groups and agencies involved and asked those questions but did not get responses from everyone she asked.
Below are the actual questions and answers provided by El Dorado County at the Rubicon Trail meeting two weeks ago documenting the answers to those questions, by each group/agency.
The questions are in black, the answers from the respective agency are in blue. Note that RTF and FOTR did not respond. I have learned that RTF has answers to the questions but didn’t get them to El Dorado before the meeting. They did share those answers verbally at the meeting. I have since asked for those answers to be given to El Dorado County to be able to publish all of the answers together. El Dorado has not received anything from RTF. Although FOTR does still exist, we are told, FOTR and El Dorado County are not getting along, not talking, not planning any maintenance efforts together.
Everyone involved in the Rubicon Trail, regardless of their capacity, needs to get over any and all personal differences with others and do what is best for the trail. There are multiple individuals telling me that will no longer communicate with ‘that person’ or ‘that agency’. To me, that is unprofessional and is not in the best interest of the trail.
It might step on a few toes, but I will ask the question: “What would Dennis (Mayer) Do?” We all wore the yellow wrist bands, “WWDD?”, some for years after his passing. Some of us still have a yellow band in our rigs. Dennis kept it calm and down the center, regardless of how he felt personally. We need to channel Dennis and get back to working together.
An eight-page list of things to do was recently provided to those involved with the management of the Rubicon Trail. Someone needs to take the lead and get started on working on those issues. Let’s get FOTR back to where it was when that group literally stopped the trail from getting closed in 2000. RTF needs to work with Placer and/or the Tahoe NF and the Basin to get an adopt-a-trail/rolling dip/campsite going. The TNF needs to involve users in their maintenance decisions and efforts.
Maybe we turn this around to where the users demand to adopt spots along the trail. Maybe OHV clubs need to demand a list of maintenance items for the season. Maybe the users demand that the decision-making process not only be made public, but that every decision includes the public.
Do we need a threat of closure to bring back cooperation and user involvement? If so, it’s closer than you think.
We had about fifty people show up for the meeting Saturday morning. Sorry, no pictures.
The majority of the group were the regular players, El Dorado County, Rubicon Trail Foundation, Friends of the Rubicon, CA Off Road Vehicle Assoc., Nevada Four Wheel Drive Assoc., Forest Service and private property owners, but there were, of course, the users.
Vickie Sanders of El Dorado County lead the show. She reviewed the list of questions submitted to the governing groups and agencies prior to the meeting. Most of those groups and agencies were there to expanded and clarified on those answers. I am trying to get an electronic copy of the questions and answers to post up, stay tuned.
Placer County was a no show. They did provide written answers to the questions sent but did not provide a representative at the meeting.
El Dorado County has obtained and spent 35 million dollars of OHV grant funding on the trail to date! Helicopters will fly this summer working from Arnold’s Rock to the Springs. RTF will fund heavy equipment to rework the rolling dips within the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit. RTF will manage opening the Tahoma staging area bathrooms earlier in the season and keeping them open later in the year.
Tahoe side adoptions are possible but not yet organized: sections of the Rubicon Trail, rolling dips within the LTBMU and campsites along the trail.
Parking at the staging area was discussed and will likely include no parking along the outside edge of the staging area to allow a permanent ‘through route’ for users and more specifically emergency equipment.
The hot topic was the always reappearing Snow Wall. Somehow, an excess of snow is appearing at the Rubicon Trail entrance. Placer County claims they are plowing linerally, only a blade pushing snow to the side. Yet they have and use a rotary blade in the area. Placer is standing by their current practices. Hopefully, a meeting will be scheduled that will include Placer County, OHV users’ groups and the local residents to finally come to a solution to this issue. Many solutions were documented and will be followed up on.
Another longer-term thought would be to make the Rubicon Trail a Sno-Park, similar to Blackwood Canyon, but allowing wheeled vehicles. Plow the road up to a parking lot where OHV users could bring in a trailered rig. Yes, there would be a parking fee associated with the Sno-Park. We anticipate that the local residents would strongly oppose this idea. This was only a thought; no action will be taken at this time.
Better communications were promised both between those involved in management and communications to the users.
El Dorado County, Placer County and CA State Parks LEOs have entered into their own MOU to ensure law enforcement across the entire Rubicon Trail.
The suggestion has been made that a similar meeting needs to take place every year, in order to continue the open communications. These meetings could rotate through different cities: Reno, South Lake Tahoe, Truckee, Placerville, Auburn and Sacramento. Stay tuned.
Overall, it was a good meeting. We needed to get people in the same room and away from their keyboards. Nothing was solved and Placer was a no show, but we are moving in the right direction.
Hopefully, I’ll have those questions and answers to post soon.
-aka, Rubicon Ronin
On the morning of March 10th, a few four-wheel drive enthusiasts ventured out to the Rubicon Trail in Tahoma for a day of snow wheeling. Upon their arrival at the trailhead, they discovered a snow and ice wall more than eight feet tall. Not having enough people to tackle the job of breaking through the wall, they left. Thursday:
Forty-eight hours later, a larger group of wheelers returned to re-open wheeled access to the Rubicon Trail. Volunteers from four different clubs and three different cities drove to Tahoma to help. We had shovels, pick-axes, digging bars, fresh doughnuts and coffee.
After about an hour and a half of work, we had notched the wall down to something passable by a capable 4×4. The approach is quite steep and the snow, as always, is slick. Our intention was not to make it so easy that any four-wheel drive could get on to the trail. This time of year, travel should only be attempted by a well outfitted rig with an experienced and capable driver. And anyone going out on the trail should be prepared to spend the night with the proper clothing, food and equipment.
More than one local neighbor came over to talk to us while we were working. One said, “you’re ruining it for everyone.” I have to disagree. First off, McKinney Rubicon Springs Road is just that, a road. It is not a private winter park for the local neighborhood. The Rubicon Trail is open year-round for all types of users, including wheeled vehicles. Just because it is not maintained by Placer County during the winter does not mean it is closed.
This individual asked if we couldn’t go somewhere else. To my knowledge, this is the only place in the entire Lake Tahoe Basin where wheeled vehicles are legally allowed to travel over snow. Honestly, I can’t think of anywhere close where we would be allowed. And we have the right to travel on a county road.
Compare that to local areas where individuals can go and cross-country ski, snowshoe, hike, mountain bike, etc. Those places are literally everywhere in the Lake Tahoe Basin; e.g. Blackwood Canyon to the north and Sugar Pine Point State Park to the south. So, we not going to give up our access to the Rubicon Trail.
To address the locals concern over their ability to recreate locally, I would be willing to volunteer my time to help build a non-motorized trail alongside the Rubicon Trail from the residential area to the staging area. This trail could be used for summer and winter travel, reducing the possibility of user conflicts and to provide a better winter experience.
Part of the issue that created the snow and ice wall is how Placer County does snow removal in the area. For almost a decade, local four-wheelers have tried to work with Placer County to address that issue. So far, we have not come to a solution. Another part of the issue is the possibility that someone local is depositing snow illegally at the entrance to the Rubicon Trail. The snow depth at the entrance to the Rubicon Trail is several feet more than that of the rest of the neighborhood. That does not happen naturally.
Many snow stakes were placed at the beginning of this season to better delineate the trail. All but one had been taken down.
After clearing a ramp through the wall, four of the rigs went for a drive up the Rubicon Trail. They didn’t expect to get too far as the report is that the bridge over McKinney Creek still has a large amount of snow piled on it. Driving on a domed pile of snow, over a bridge with no guard rails is not advised.
I want to thank everyone that came out today. Without volunteers, the Rubicon Trail would have been closed decades ago. Our passion for our sport and our willingness to work to preserve it showed today.
Update: I’m told the bridge wasn’t that bad. Stay on the tracks!
After being open for only two hours, the first stuck rig had to be rescued:
For the record, not one from our group!