2020 is nearly over. It has had its moments, but some good has been brought to the Ridge Route. Due to the Lake Fire in August, the roadway was mostly cleared of debris and brush from Sandberg to Templin Highway. A closure order, also resulting from that fire, was also lifted on December 8, 2020. To clarify, this order being lifted doesn’t change the status of the roadway. It is still closed. As the order is lifted, travel is now allowed over the roadway with the caveat of the gates still being closed at either end.
In recent travels, the gates at either end have been open, but this doesn’t mean the roadway is open. It seems likely the USFS or a contractor working up there has left them open. We are still working with the USFS to resolve this problem, which isn’t easy. It also isn’t likely we will be able to hold a CUTRR event until the latter half of 2021 but we do hope to be able to. We are ready to do it pending clearance from the USFS and the State for such events, as are many other groups.
In early December, we held a small fundraiser through the website. We had set a goal of $300 to help cover operating costs. We ended up raising nearly $500 instead. We want to thank all those who donated, regardless of amount, and helped us get through 2020. We look forward to making good progress toward our goals in 2021. It will be a better year.
The Saugus Cafe, which has been in business for 132 years, is in danger of closing. With the ongoing crisis, business has slowed and restrictions are in place making it tougher than ever. This restaurant is a part of the history of Santa Clarita and US 99. It is located at 25861 Railroad Avenue (formerly San Fernando Road) in Santa Clarita, California. As a kid, I always enjoyed going there and getting a seat near the window so I could watch the trains go by. I was last able to stop there in January 2020. It isn’t truly a Ridge Route trip without it, as it is the LAST place that is still around that dates to that era AND is along the route.
If you’d like to help save this historic restaurant and learn more, KHTS radio has a detailed article here. The Saugus Cafe has also started a “GoFundMe” account. If you are in the area, please stop by the restaurant and show your support! We need places like this to keep going, as without we lose a part of our heritage and a connection to the past.
It is that time of year again and we need your help. We are looking to raise some funds to cover basic operating expenses, such as our PO BOX and website. At this time, we would like to raise $300, which will cover us for a while. Once the current crisis is over, we will be able to do more fundraising through our CUTRR events, which will help not only keep those events going, but help with our fight to get the road open and maintained.
We are a 501c3 Tax-Exempt organization, so your donations will be tax deductible. Any amount helps. To donate, you may either:
We have a new YouTube channel, where we will post videos on all sorts of topics, such as our CUTRR events, roadway conditions, and much more. It will also have links to videos by others, which showcase the roadway in various states of repair as well as from different perspectives. Videos not made by the RRPO don’t necessarily reflect our views and may not contain complete or accurate information about the roadway. Please check it out and let us know if you have a video you’d like us to add to the list!
2020 is rapidly passing us by, it seems. We had hoped to be at our 3rd CUTRR by this point, preparing for another. Those are still on hold. Hoping now for early 2021, depending on many factors. The biggest is the closure on the Ridge Route until December 31, 2020. Please keep this in mind before traveling up there at this time. The roadway is closed at this time regardless of the gates being open or not.
As a part of the Lake Fire preparations, the Ridge Route was used as a contingency fire line. This resulted in brush and rocks being cleared from the entire roadway from Sandberg to Templin Highway. Much additional work is needed to be done, such as clearing drains and a whole lot of other debris from the roadway. One culvert, just south of Kelly’s Halfway Inn, is badly damaged and the roadway is washing out at that point. This is the reason we need to get up there and do our work. Hopefully the Forest Service allows us to at least get some work done prior to the rainy season. Being a La Nina year could at least be advantageous for us in that regard.
In other news, one initiative I’d like to get started is getting Historic US 99 signage along Ridge Route Road and Castaic Road in Castaic. Having that signage there would attract more interest in the roadway and promote the town. This is still very early in the planning stages, and doesn’t supersede our efforts to get the road open.
Remember, if you’re interested in following our work, just click on the “Subscribe” link to the right side of the screen to get updates from this site. You can follow us on Twitter (@ridgeroute99) and Instagram (@ridgerouteorg) as well.
The Ridge Route, from State 138 to Templin Highway is now under a Forest Closure Order due to the Lake Fire, which is set to expire on December 31, 2020. As such, travel along the roadway and any activities along it are prohibited. Please take heed of this as the fines can be pretty steep.
For further information and specific details, please use the link below.
So, in trying to promote our group and increase awareness, I have created a new Instagram account for the RRPO. While our site will be the method for distributing information, our Instagram account will be used for photos of the road, our events, and anything related to the Ridge Route specifically. I recommend checking it out!
Currently, the Lake Fire is at 31,089 acres and 70% containment. Unless something dramatically changes, it looks like the Ridge Route will be safe from this fire. There is, however, another issue which we will have to clarify with the USFS. The area is now under a Forest Closure Order, which is set to expire at the end of December 2020. As such, the roadway and any activities along it may be prohibited. For further information, please use the link below.
As I am sure some of you are aware, there is a large fire burning in the mountains near Lake Hughes. This fire has been slowly burning west toward the Ridge Route. Whether or not it reaches the road remains to be seen, but hopefully it does not for many reasons.
Should the hills around the road burn, it would dramatically increase the chances for mudflows and debris covering or damaging the roadway. At a time when maintenance is at a low, this would not be good. There are also items of historic value that are flammable in the vicinity of Sandberg, which would also be preferable not to burn or otherwise be destroyed. The historic Knapp Ranch is also at risk and the fire is slowly getting close to it.
We have been monitoring the situation and will survey the area once the fire is over. Presently, the Ridge Route is closed from State 138 to Pine Canyon Road due to the fire as are other roadways in the area.
For updated information on the fire, visit the USFS Inciweb site.
Not much to report. I recently sent a letter to the Angeles National Forest, which we have confirmation they received, to get more information about ongoing issues.
Two of the issues were regarding the gates. Now, as has been stated here many times, we want them open. While we have keys, we don’t really want to “need” them. However, with the gates being left open by others or being damaged, it tends to hurt our cause more than help. If the gates are open when they aren’t planned to be, why help to open them?
There is also the issue with a section of roadway being undermined by a So Cal Gas pipeline. We have brought this to the attention of the Forest Service and are hoping they will be able to get the company at issue to resolve the problem, all without damaging the paving at that location. A potential funding mechanism for continued maintenance of the roadway is also going to be discussed. We hope that this may resolve many of the problems that seem to keep the Forest Service from opening the roadway officially.
Once we hear something more solid, I will give an update here. Until then, we shall continue to monitor the road when possible and keep pushing the Forest Service to open the roadway to motor vehicles. The Ridge Route is a treasure that must be kept in good repair and able to be enjoyed by all.