“This is the Trail. Tahoma, CA. I work here…I’m a volunteer. The story you are about to read is true. The names have been changes to protect the innocent.
On January 27th, me, Wheeler “A” and Wheeler “B”, arrived at the entrance to the Rubicon Trail. Wheeler “A” had brought a piece of commercial snow removal equipment. The objective: Remove The Berm.
The berm had gone up over the course of the winter season. It’s appeared every season for years. Dumping snow anywhere but from the lot it came from is illegal. The berm is illegal.
We thought Placer was doing it. I’d heard several second hand accounts from witnesses who saw Placer dump and pushing snow at the trailhead. Nothing first hand.
Placer denies dump or pushing snow at the entrance. We’re now thinking it’s a local snow removal contractor. We don’t need to catch him and charge him, we just want the dumping to stop. But if it doesn’t stop, we will catch him and get the county to fine him.
It was time to take action in to our own hands.
Wheeler “A” unloaded his rig and got to work. I stood on the berm, off to the side, and made sure anyone coming off the trail didn’t get a snow shower. Wheeler “B” stood in the street and talked with anyone walking by.
Wheeler “B” approached one neighbor who came out and took pictures but she ignored him and went back inside. Later, a Placer County sheriff stopped by after a complaint had been filed by someone in the area.
The sheriff had no issue about what we were doing after we explained that Placer County had given us permission to clear the entrance.
It didn’t take long before Wheeler “A” had cleared the entrance to the Rubicon Trail. We figured three hours, including travel time.
Not five minutes after heading to our rigs to leave, a stock Toyota Tacoma and F150 pulled up to the entrance. It was in 2wd and didn’t make the small rolling dip left at the entrance.
That gave me time to walk up and talk to him. I encouraged him not to try the trail without a winch and a better equipped rig. He said he wouldn’t go too far. I gave him two of my trail brochures with a map and wished him well. He put it in 4wd and headed in.
Please remember that there is no street parking this time of year.
For those of you too young to catch the wording of the intro, it’s from Dragnet, an old cop show from the 60’s. You Tube the opening scene for every show.
For years, I’ve reached out to Supervisor Jennifer Montgomery and her staff regarding the piling of snow in front of the Rubicon Trail on the Tahoma side.
At first, Placer County denied they had anything to do with the snow pile and accused local snow removal contractors. After many meetings, photos and emails, Placer admitted their plows were pushing/piling snow from that intersection in front of the Rubicon Trail.
Last year, a fieldtrip was made to the Rubicon entrance with Lindsey, Montgomery’s assistant, and John Briggs to look at the situation first hand.
At that fieldtrip, it was agreed that piling snow well to the left of the Rubicon Trail entrance was a simple, easy, no hassle, no cost solution to the problem. At a subsequent meeting, Montgomery agreed to pass along this solution to those who control the plow drivers.
Just last week, we finally got a decent dumping of snow that I ventured out to see how the plowing issue was going. I was disappointed that it was not going the way we had solved it.
Although it’s not a lot of snow, their is more snow piled between the stop sign on the left and the road signs on the right, than outside that area. Bottom line, Placer still blocking the Rubicon Trail.
So, I fired off a letter to Montgomery’s office…
This past month, I have monitored the snow conditions in Tahoma. Last week I was frustrated to find snow piled in front of the Rubicon Trail, specifically on McKinney-Rubicon Road. This situation is past being a just a nuisance or inconvenience to Off Highway Vehicle (OHV) users.
For more than three years I have tried to use the official system to voice my concerns to the supervisor about past instances of snow being piled at the Rubicon. You and I even did a fieldtrip to the site and agreed there was a simple, no cost, no hassle solution. We agreed that pushing or piling the snow from the intersection to the left of the road would keep the Rubicon clear and not be an inconvenience to the plow drivers.
Somewhere along the lines of communication, the solution we came to was dropped and never reached the drivers of the snow plows. It appears that the snow plow drivers are still intentionally piling the snow specifically on the Rubicon Trail, as the snow piles are centered on the road, not evenly spaced along the snow berm. I do not know where the breakdown occurred but it needs to be discovered and fixed.
Piling snow on a roadway is a criminal act. It needs to stop. The excess snow currently piled on the Rubicon, although minimal, needs to be removed. We have a full week of storms coming in this week. The plow drivers need to be informed that the Rubicon Trail entrance needs to be treated like any other street in that neighborhood or a driveway in that neighborhood. Although the Rubicon does not get plowed, it should not be intentionally blocked. That information needs to be passed along TODAY, not next week, not at the next supervisors meeting, not the next time the supervisor bumps in to the right department head, TODAY.
Attached are photographs of the situation I found on Thursday, January 10, 2019. Although small, it is clear that there is excess snow piled on the road, not to either side of where the Rubicon Trail starts from the residential area. In the wide view shot, you can see the difference in the snow levels. You can see the stop sign further to the left of where the road is and the old signage further to the right. In the other photos, my two snow skis outline where the road lies and off to the sides you can see less of a snow berm.
Unfortunately, I will not be able to attend the next coffee day with the Supervisor. I am hoping that John Briggs will be able to attend.
Please keep me informed as to the progress of solving this situation.
Lindsey did get back to me quickly regarding my email. She said she had forwarded my email to Montgomery and the head of Public Works and that they would be discussing it yesterday afternoon. I have yet to hear back from anyone after that meeting.
With the increased ability of off highway vehicles, I will continue to fight for our year ’round access to the Rubicon Trail. It doesn’t help that people got out unequipped for the conditions.
I ventured out to the Rubicon today (3/2/2017) and found the largest wall I’ve ever seen at the entrance to the Rubicon.
The directional sign we put in last year seems to be tall enough, so far.
Looking down the last street toward the entrance to the Rubicon Trail. Notice the height of the snow on either side of the road.
But when you get to the Rubicon, the snow is now 14′ tall!
My truck is about 6′ tall. At least the Rubicon Trail sign is visible.
What concerns me are the HUGE rotary blade marks in the wall. Private snow removal guys don’t have machines that big. Only the County has those.
I’ve already fired off a letter to Placer County Supervisor Montgomery to get the County to come out with a front loader to remove snow to the point that it matches the snow loads in the rest of the neighborhood.
We’ll have to wait and see what happens.
But for now we get to wait for the storm that is going to hit Saturday night.
Spring begins March 20th!
For those of you following the saga, the past practice of Placer County piling snow at the Tahoma entrance to the Rubicon should have stopped.
Unfortunately, not everyone got the memo. This was today, 1/4/17.
Now we don’t know who piled the snow here but I’m working on it.
For the record, the Rubicon Trail doesn’t close during the winter.
If you are prepared enough and brave enough to try the Rubicon during the winter, realize there may still be issues at the trailhead this winter.
On your way in, feel free to break-down any piled snow or shovel the snow away all together. Do not throw that snow in to the street. If capable, drive over the berm.
Remember that there is no street parking from November through May. A sheriff in a bad mood may try and cite you if your rig is in the street as you work the berm. My advice is be polite and don’t fail the attitude test.
On your way out, make sure the berm has not been altered. Get out and check before driving off the edge.
On a side note, there are currently two rigs stuck on the Rubicon. A recovery team is going in on Friday to get the vehicles out. All the people are safely out.
The first rig is near Miller Lake, in a water hole, on the trail (35″ tires). Please do not go off trail to get around this vehicle.
The second vehicle is almost to Observation (40″ tires). It lost one tire off the rim. They plan on bringing out a spare, swapping it on to the rig and driving out. That rig is off to the side of the trail.
Both Placer County and the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit (LTBMU) are looking for a list of Tahoe side points of interest along the east half of the trail within Placer County.
The LTBMU is putting together a new map for the staging area and would like to add these points. I think Placer wants them for a map for their website.
Here is what I have so far, please let me know what I’ve missed or if you call any of these by a different name:
Entrance @ Residential
Quad Rental Parking
FS 14N34: Noonchester Mine Road
Bridge (Car Wash)
FS 14N40: Buck Lake Trail
FS 3102-26 (turnout)
FS 3102-24 (Campsites across from Miller Lake)
FS 3102-22 (Campsite on west end of Miller)
14N39: Richardson Lake Trail
FS 03-04-12-05: Ellis Peak Trail
FS 03-04: road to Barker Pass
Pacific Crest Trail
Bottom Dollar Hole
Old Water Hole (filled)
FS 16E76: Barker Meadow OHV Trail (lower)
Helicopter Flat / Birthday Cake (the mountain in the distance)
FS 16E77: Bear Camp
FS 16E78: Observation Point
Creek Crossing (with log water bar)
Morris Rock (The Steps)
The Notch (Squeeze Rock)
U-Rock (Formally V-Rock)
The Cadillac (over the side of the trail)
Roots & Rocks Section
Granite Outcropping – alternate route
FS 16E12: Long Lake Trail