Not surprisingly, the Forest Service went too far. I fully understand the hardening of the trail. Erosion could cause the loss of the trail. Sedimentation running off in to the water ways will get our trails closed. But there is no reason to pave the trail.
Last week, the Tahoe National Forest, under the direction of Joe Chavez, paved sections of the Rubicon Trail, specifically along Cadillac Hill.
This project was sold to the Rubicon Partners and users as a hardening project. They were to harden the bypass (that I don’t personally agree with), they were going to harden and stabilize parts of Cadillac Hill that were slowly eroding away and they were going to move and place select boulders from out of the area to spots along Cadillac to act as key anchors for drainages and hardening efforts.
My thanks to Scot of the Hi-Lo’s for providing the pictures!
Hardening the bypass around the fixable Mud Hole
Hardening below the Notch
Hardening below V-rock
Hardening below the Driveway (but it will get kicked out)
I get hardening. It needs to happen. It needs to happen more. What I don’t get is clearing the trail of boulders. If I wanted that, I’d take Highway 50.
I don’t know if those key boulders were brought in from above Cadillac to to be key anchors but large boulders were removed from the Rubicon Trail.
Below Morris, also some hardening took place
Further below Morris
Bottom of Cadillac
There’s not much that can be done right now. Winter will change the trail. Joe can always hire the Spider Excavator to go back out and replace the boulders on to the trail, but he won’t.
Moving forward, I think the users should attach a watch dog to the side of Joe Chavez. Someone should go everywhere Joe goes to make sure he doesn’t do something like this again.
If you remember, Joe’s first day on the trail he wanted to close the bypasses going up Cadillac. He only wanted a single trail all the way up. If I wasn’t there to talk him out of it we would have lost trail.
We didn’t lose trail this time, it was just paved, but who knows what he’ll want to do next time.
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.
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.
I reached out to RTF about the closure this morning (9/21). They got in touch with Vickie Sanders of El Dorado County. She called the Eldorado National Forest.
12:15pm 9/21/2020: We think the Rubicon has formally been reopened.
When someone publishes something firm, I will add it to this post.
It appears that the Rubicon Trail will be the southern / eastern border of the Fork Fire closure. But that has not been confirmed.
Stay tuned. Sorry I don’t have firm information for you.
Here is a link to an upcoming article about using helicopters to transport rock and heavy equipment on the Rubicon Trail.
This is the same company contracted to fly rock this October in to Cadillac Hill. Although it is quite expensive, it is less expensive, quicker and easier on our Jeeps that using small Jeep trailers.