Rubicon Staging Area Work Has Started

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.

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Rubicon Ronin


First to the summit…

The Tahoe Donner 4-Wheelers were out yesterday on the Rubicon to replace weather worn signage on the Miller Lake sign board.

It didn’t take too long to staple some laminations to a piece of plywood.

So we decided to check out the Richardson Lake Trail that runs up to Sourdough Hill. The first sizable snow drift looked formattable.

John made it but I slide a little sideways and had to pull a winch line like the others behind me.

There were some longer sections where we had to dig a notch for the upper wheels to prevent sliding off the trail.

There was one tree across the trail that was easily removed as we were prepared for such issues.

Most of the snow section we tried to drive as they were. It got a little tippy at times. Of course the photo doesn’t share the feeling!

After summiting Sourdough, we run up the Buck Lake Trail. Very wet and snow still at the top. We didn’t make it too far up the Ellis Peak/Lake Trail. This is a shot on the way down.

Of course we’re out there for the beauty as well as the challenge.

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Rubicon Ronin


Rubicon Trail Conditions

I was out on the Tahoe side on Sunday and the trail is wet. If you don’t have to be on the Rubicon, I’d like to ask you to find a dryer place to go wheeling.

Most wet sections are rock covered and don’t pose any issues:

There is still snow and ice in the shaded sections of the Tahoe National Forest:

Where the snow has melted, there is some standing water and a few muddy sections.

That hole in front of my Jeep was some thick mud. We made it through going west but on the return trip, four of the five rigs in our group had to winch out. I’ve reached out to El Dorado, RTF and FOTR to get a crew out to work the few sections that were causing issues.

Some of the rolling dips placed last November were working, some better than others. All needed rock to harden them to prevent them from being worn down.

Again, please avoid the trail if you can. Let it dry out and visit in July.

“Turn Around, Don’t Go Around”, stay on the trail!

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Rubicon Ronin


Tahoe Side Update…

A member of the Lake Tahoe Hi-Lo’s ventured out to the Tahoma staging area yesterday (4-28-2020) .

The report is that there are some VERY deep ruts just to get to the staging area. He said he was dragging his diffs and he runs 40″ tires!

For now we should be staying home and staying healthy. But I get that some us us are getting stir crazy. If you go, be safe. Social distance as best as possible but don’t go alone.

Since there is still snow out there, load up the rig as if you’re going to spend the night: food, water, proper clothing, tent, sleeping bags, light. Make sure you ham radio is up and running.

What you don’t have a ham radio and license? Well, get them! Cell phone don’t have very good coverage, if any, on the trail.

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Rubicon Ronin


Snow berm meeting at the Rubicon trailhead

Working two fronts on the Rubicon these days: TNF and trail maintenance and Placer County and snow at the entrance.

For the record, I’ve been working with or fighting with Placer County over snow at the trailhead for more than three years. I’ve attended many meetings with former Supervisor Montgomery regarding this issue. Nothing came from those meetings.

Yesterday, a good group met at the trailhead: Placer County, Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit and users. There were about eight of us.

My takeaways were that Placer County would move the winter parking rules sign closer to the road (Evergreen Way) and mount it higher. The plow operators would try and recognize the Rubicon as a driveway. Placer would try and reach out to the local snow removal contractors and the local homeowners association.

Placer County is going to try and get a local community meeting set up for January in Tahoe City to try and get everyone in the same room to work out solutions.

The commercial snow removal contractor that cleared the trail a number of times last winter was on hand. He offered to occasionally use his equipment to clear the berm as needed but not regularly.

Ideas that were also discussed were notching the berm so any ramp built would not interfere with traffic on Evergreen Way. Placer thought this might promote parking in that notch thus blocking the trail.

Other thoughts were to groom or plow the first part of the Rubicon, either to the quad parking area or all the way to the staging area. This would need a grant written to fund those ideas. Maybe in the next few years.

The entrance will probably get large 4×4 markers to let everyone know exactly where the trail starts. We are also discussing putting up a warning sign. I might have shared it here before:

This sign would be put in two places, about 200 yards up from Evergreen Way and on the trail just after leaving the staging area.

In the end I was happy at how things had moved forward, then Peter Kraatz sent out a late email last night.

Peter asked if we could “table” the use of commercial equipment until he could work out a few things as use of that equipment could bring complaints. This point was at the heart of getting and keeping access.

This morning, I fired off a email to the group that has been talking about this for weeks, Peter included. I told Peter “No”, I would not back off on the use of commercial equipment and that he had until the berm gets built up with snow fall and illegal dumping to get his act together.