ENF delays trail openings

Probably to no one’s surprise, the Eldorado National Forest has delayed the opening of it’s OHV trails from April 1st to April 16th. This doesn’t effect our side too much except for the Richardson Lake Trail 14N39.

Although some of the more built rigs will be able to get to the 14N39 trailhead before April 16th, most of us will have no chance to get to the trailhead let alone run that trail to higher elevations.

Please stay off this trail until the trail officially opens. Below is the Forest Service press release regarding the subject…

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Seasonal road and motorized trail closure extended to April 15

PLACERVILLE, Calif. – Based on recent precipitation, the seasonal closure of native surface roads and motorized trails (commonly known as dirt roads) in the Eldorado National Forest has been extended to April 15. Rainfall, soil moisture, road and trail conditions, and weather forecasts are factors that trigger extending the seasonal closure beyond March 31.

“My goal is to have these roads and trails open as soon as possible for public use,” said Forest Supervisor Laurence Crabtree. “However, there has been a lot of precipitation in the last several weeks. Given current conditions, many of these roads could be badly damaged.”

The seasonal closure is designed to protect roadbeds and watersheds from damage and to protect water quality. A minimum three month closure period from January 1 through March 31 was designated for the core part of the wet season in the Eldorado National Forest Travel Management Plan. This plan also allows the seasonal dirt road closure to start earlier or be extended based on actual conditions in a given year.

Roads and trails subject to seasonal closure are marked with a “Seasonal Designation” on the current motor vehicle use map that is available free-of-charge at all Eldorado National Forest offices and on the web at: www.fs.usda.gov/eldorado. The seasonal closure does not affect routes in the Rock Creek Area near Georgetown, which has its own wet weather route closure process.

When the roads open, there will still be wet areas at higher elevations for some time. Many routes change in elevation over several miles. Visitors are encouraged to be aware of changes in the conditions of the roads they are using, and to adjust travel plans when they reach a wet section as they will be responsible for any resource damage caused by inappropriate use.

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Rubicon Ronin


Spring is here…

Now that Spring is here, we’re all thinking about getting out on our trails. Well I stopped by the Rubicon this morning and the trail is calling.


The berm is actually quite manageable. The top of my shell is about six feet tall. So, the berm is about seven feet tall. I was there in the morning and it was frozen solid as the temperature was about 34 degrees.

Over the top of the berm, you drop down a little bit. I tried to dig my heel in to the snow to see how hard or soft the snow was and I couldn’t.

I walked up the trail a bit and the snow was just as hard and calling for wheelers.

If you go, please go prepared. Be ready to spend the night as things could go wrong. Food, shelter, clothing, recovery gear, etc.

Enjoy and be safe!

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Rubicon Ronin


Snow Gatekeeper versus newbie access

Recently, the four foot plus berm was removed from the entrance to the Rubicon. Let’s ignore the fact that most of that snow was dumped there illegally. Was it right to remove the ‘gatekeeper’ to allow easy access for those not prepared/equipped to go snow wheeling?

Over the years, some have commented that ‘gatekeepers’ keeps the unprepared out and that only well-built rigs will proceed. This has been said over many trails and conditions. Others say there should be unfiltered access to our OHV opportunities.

Personally, I think a ramped increase in difficulty is the best way to go. The newbie needs to be able to get out there a little bit to get a taste of what wheeling is all about. They should only go as far as is safe or their rig and driving ability is able, but they sometimes go a little too far. It’s up to those of us with more experience to educate those newer to the sport with what it takes to go out in those conditions.

Once, we were that beginner. I remember driving my 1947 CJ2A, completely stock up the Rubicon. I got as far as the Potato Patch and I said “nope”, and turned around to go home and build a better rig. But if every trail were like Barrett, every wheeler would have to build quite a rig to go wheeling for the very first time.

Getting specific about snow wheeling on the Tahoe side, what better place to start? Early in the season, there is minimal snow and the trail is over asphalt for the first 1.5 miles. Even with more snowfall, it’s near a residential area (and help), there are plenty of trees to winch from (unlike the Bowl on the Eldorado side). It’s a gentle grade offering a slowly increasing challenge for newbies and honestly, it’s the only legal snow wheeling for ‘wheeled’ vehicles I know of in the Lake Tahoe area. There is a decent grade further in with turns for more of a challenge. If they do make the staging area, the newbies aren’t going much further as the climb out of the staging area to the entrance to the Buck Lake Trail is an honest gatekeeper in the snow. And the entire area is covered by a ham radio repeater system.

Sure, the newbies might get stuck and we (meaning those of you who snow wheel) might have to go around them (without going off trail) or help them get unstuck. I’d love to educate everyone who goes out on any OHV trail as to what they should take every time they go out. That’s one reason I built this website.

Back to the berm; the berm itself will only stop the less driven. A beginner with huge motivation to get on the Rubicon will take down the berm and drive in. On the other hand, a group with well-built rigs might get to the trailhead, see the berm and decide they don’t want to work that hard for a day on snow wheeling.

It’s a topic that will be discussed forever. Both sides have good points. Let’s just get out there and enjoy our public lands.

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Rubicon Ronin


Snow Berm Gone!

“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 was about 4-5 feet tall when we got there.

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.

Happy wheeling.

Rubicon Ronin

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.


Snow dangers

I’ve already told you about my buddy’s recent trip out on the Rubicon. Well I finally got a few pictures.

You might think that it’s soft snow and easy going this time of year.

The front rig is on 37″ tires.

But you really need to keep an eye out for hazards.

That’s a fallen tree with its branches sticking up, ready to puncture your tire. Remember, a flat tire is how the Glacier Girl episode started.

Rather than cut the limbs off and continue, these guys did it right and dug out the tree and winched it to the side of the trail.

I had a photo but can’t find it.

Anyway, always keep an eye out for the unexpected and be prepared for anything.

Rubicon Ronin