In a previous post, I documented that trailer parking was getting out of hand at and near the Tahoma staging area. I had also informed the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit (LTBMU) about the issue. While the Rubicon Trail was unnecessarily closed due to the Mosquito Fire, the LTBMU went to work.
Tuesday afternoon, right after the trail was reopened, I drove up to the Staging Area to check out that all signs of closure were actually gone. What I found was a lot of new granite:
The area on the north side was left open for overflow use. Sorry, no picture.
A few logs were thrown in to make it look natural.
Some of the rocks are a little on the small side but the users will get the idea.
They even worked the edges of the staging area itself.
We’ll see if it works.
If you trailer your rig to Tahoe, you might want to get there early as there are far fewer parking spots for trailers.
No users were informed that this work would be happening. No input was given other than the work needed to be done. No signage was added to support the rocks. So much for a partnership with the Forest Service.
Over the last half century, the use of the Rubicon Trail has changed many times. Back in the day, almost everyone would drive the trail from Georgetown (not Loon Lake) to Lake Tahoe, like it was a one-way road. Twenty years ago, the majority of the use would access the Rubicon Trail on the Ellis Creek Intertie/Trail and head to the Little Sluice, wheel, party, shit and go home.
The current use seems to be to trailer your rig to the trailhead, street legal or green sticker, and go access the Rubicon Trail. This is happening at all of the access points. I’m more familiar with the Tahoe end of the trail.
This report focuses on the Tahoma trailhead but the side-by-sides have found Barker Pass and are parking trailers on forest road 03-04, just south of 03. For now, there seems to be plenty of open space to park there.
On July 9th, 2022, I drove to the Tahoma staging area to meet some fellow wheelers to do some trail maintenance. The scene along the paved road into the staging area is pictured below.
For the record, I counted probably 30 rigs and trailers parked along the paved road. Three quarters of those rigs were parked illegally.
The ticket that could be written is resource damage. Although many look like they are parked on dirt, it is not legal to park ninety degrees to the road.
Some of these areas have been used for parking for years. That doesn’t make it legal.
In the photo below, work was being done on the paved road and the contractors moved the large boulders in the picture in order to park their equipment during the process. When they were done, the boulders were not put back in place to prevent illegal parking.
This is the guy who really needs a ticket. The first photo doesn’t really show the issues due to the poor photography on my part.
But the follow-up photo clearly shows this idiot parking his trailer on a bush. That is clearly resource damage.
The following Monday, I sent an email, with these pictures, to the Forest Service and to the Rubicon Trail Foundation. As off this writing, I have received absolutely no response regarding this subject.
7-11-2022Good Monday morning everyone,
This past weekend, I drove through the Tahoma staging area for the Rubicon Trail. The Lake Tahoe Hi-Lo’s were on our way to do trail maintenance on the Long Lake Trail and Forest Road 03-06.
Attached are several photos of the current parking situation, (taken Saturday July 9th, 2022) not only at the staging area but all along the paved road in to the staging area.
For years now there have been discussions about how to better manage the parking situation for the Rubicon Trail. Several ideas were even agreed upon but I have seen nothing done to prevent the illegal parking that is currently taking place for the Rubicon Trail.
Without doing anything to educate, enforce or engineer a better system, we can only assume it will get worse. And this was not even a holiday weekend. I counted 30 rigs with trailers parked before the staging area and another 20 parked in the staging area.
Safety must be the priority. This area needs to be managed in such a way that an emergency vehicle (police, fire, medic) going in to the staging area can get there even with a tow rig and trailer coming out.
Possible managing ideas that have been discussed, even agreed upon:
-no parking signs along the outer edge of the paved staging area
-no parking along the north side of the paved road
-physically harden both sides of the paved road to protect the forest
Ideas I don’t think have been floated before:
-expand the parking area, near current staging area or elsewhere along paved road
(I assume this is a no starter for the FS.)
-encouraging wheelers to drop trailers somewhere else, if bringing street legal rigs
-educate/encourage parking off Forest Road 03-04, side-x-sides already doing this
(This is at the top of Blackwood Canyon)
-public campaign to discourage trailer use for street legal vehicles
-parking at Homewood, drive to Rubicon via Noonchester Mine Road, $$$$$
(This could drastically change the character of the Noonchester Mine Road.)
-promote the parking of towing trucks ON their trailers while on the trail
This is an issue that needs immediate management. Although it is the responsibility of the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit, I think the better route to a solution is by getting as many minds as possible together to work out a solution. As soon as possible.
-just a user-
CC: Jacob Quinn, Mike Gabor, Bob Sweeney, John Arenz, Randy Burleson
My fear, if this continues, is that the anti-OHV crowd will use this as a reason to close or restrict use of our OHV trails, specifically, the Rubicon Trail. I would not put it past the Forest Service to cite this illegal activity as a reason to go after legal OHV access and activities.
Don’t get me wrong. I encourage everyone to get out and enjoy out OHV trails, green sticker or street legal, but we need to learn to do it in a way that is not going to be held against us.
I will also encourage everyone to step up with ideas to solve the problem this problem before it hurts us. Contact the Forest Service, contact RTF, talk at your next club meeting. Maybe we need volunteers to go out and harden the edges of the paved road if the Forest Service refuses to do anything. FOTR?
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.
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.