Forest Closure Order

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.

Lake Fire Forest Closure Order 05-01-20-06

Lake Fire Update

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.

Lake Fire Forest Closure Order 05-01-20-06

Lake Fire

From the USFS Inciweb site – Updated 8/20/2020

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.

Late July 2020 Update

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.

July 2020 Update

So far, Summer 2020 isn’t shaping up to be what, well, many of us hoped it would be. Things are still moving at least, just a bit slower. We are still working with the USFS to get repairs done and get the utility companies to repair any damage to the roadway they have caused.

Just north of Kelley’s Halfway Inn

In late June, a group of board members took a trip over the Ridge Route from Castaic to Gorman to assess the roadway. To be honest, there was a lot of good news along the roadway to be had. Since the last of the major winter storms have passed, it looks like the roadway has not suffered any major damage. Most of the roadway, with little exception, was easily traversable by a standard automobile. Some sections needed a bit more maneuvering but were still quite manageable.

Section being undermined by a natural gas line on the slope below.

The date for our next CUTRR event is still unknown. We are presently waiting for the USFS to give us the green light for volunteer events. As it stands, August is likely out for sure. We hope to have something done before the rains begin, but we shall see.

Other ongoing projects include getting the roadway opened, replacing the signage at the markers, and setting up a YouTube channel are progressing, just slowly. The markers won’t be replaced until the roadway is opened. Funding for opening and maintaining the roadway is still unknown at present. The current crisis, health and budgetary, may well impact this more than we’d like. I feel it only delays it. We will push for legislation to force the roadway to be opened if need be.

The gates are still closed and locked. If you find a gate open, do not expect the other to be open. Travel is still restricted to non-motorized travel beyond the gates.

February 2020 Update

It has been an interesting time on the Ridge Route. So far, the monthly trips on the road have been quite productive. Over the weekend of January 18-19, I took a couple of trips up to the Ridge Route. On Saturday, I went by myself and took my motorcycle over the road as far as Reservoir Summit. It felt good to be back up on the Ridge. I used to spend many days up there just getting away from things. The road is quite peaceful and relaxing. Being able to stop anywhere to take photos was also nice. Few roadways of this caliber allow for this sort of privilege. Visibility was also good that day, which made for some nice photography.

View from just south of the National Forest Inn, looking toward Reservoir Summit and Liebre Mountain.
On the south grade of Reservoir Hill.

Sunday, I took another trip over the road from Castaic to Gorman with a friend. We took his car which, despite some clearance issues, made it over the road with little problem. I hope that, in light of these trips demonstrating the ability for various vehicles to traverse the roadway, that the USFS will open the roadway sooner than later.

Swede’s Cut, still holding up well after some of the work that RRPO did last December.

I was pleased to see that the road was holding up well, within the gates. I did find a few more culverts that were in need of clearing near the site of the largest 2005 landslide. Those will be dealt with later this year. Outside of the gates, particularly on the northern end between the Liebre Maintenance Station and Sandberg is a real mess to say the least. Some of the sections can be easily dealt with using a broom and a shovel. The parts that are more heavily damaged will be a lot tougher to deal with. Those sections, comprised of the 1920’s asphalt, are disintegrating and are in need of new asphalt to hold things together. We will be talking to the Forest Service on ways to do this.

Section near the bottom of the south grade of Reservoir Hill that is being undermined. This is likely by pipeline work, which will need to be remedied as soon as possible.

December 2019 Update – Part 2

On December 21, 2019, a small group of us took a drive over the Ridge Route. Unlike most trips since January 2005, this one wasn’t predicated upon the gate hopefully being open for us. This time, we had keys. As a part of our Volunteer Service Agreement, we were given a key so that we can access the roadway for our CUTRR projects. This trip, while also sightseeing and enjoyable, was also to survey the roadway and determine if there are any sections needing work first. We did find a few sections in need of repairs or clearing but overall the roadway was in pretty good condition.

Opening the north gate.
Between Kelly’s Halfway Inn and Reservoir Summit
Covered in dirt and mud. These are the sections I would like to clear, on the north grade for Reservoir Summit.
Bad section south of Reservoir Summit. This may be the first section we clear.
Area at Reservoir Summit where we can dump excess debris we clear.
Not bad for 100 year-old concrete.

We cleared a few rocks here and there along the roadway, mostly for clearance issues with our vehicle. The only place that required a bit more work for us to pass was at Swede’s Cut. It wasn’t unexpected as most trips along the Ridge Route involve clearing rocks there.

Swede’s Cut before we cleared the rocks and debris.
After clearing at Swede’s Cut.
Closing the south gate.

Overall, the trip was a success. We found the roadway to be traversable and in decent shape, under the circumstances it is in. Work is necessary at multiple locations and will be monitored regularly. Our first CUTRR event will be in late Spring of 2020 and we look forward to having you all join us.

December 2019 Update

Greetings all,

Finally, really good news. Last month was just “good news”. Now we’re on to really good news. Our Volunteer Service Agreement with the Angeles National Forest was finalized on December 11 and is now in effect. We will be getting a key to the gates within the next week.

Assuming weather and roadway conditions cooperate, I plan to make my first visit on the road, past the gates, on December 21st. The plan is to come from Sandberg and head to Castaic. It will be a lot of fun and an adventure. Yes, plenty of photos will be taken and posted. I haven’t fully traversed the road since about 2009 or 2010 at the latest.

With this agreement finally in place, we can begin to move forward with our portion of the physical preservation of the roadway. We are looking toward late Spring 2020, likely in early May, for our first volunteer event. Over the next few months, we will be making regular visits to the Ridge Route to assess what section we will work on first. I figure, as the road has been mostly inaccessible for so long, that a location within the closure would be best. As it gets closer, we will finalize a date for the first event on the road. All the information regarding these will be posted here as well as on RidgeRoute.com and SoCalRegion.com. Subscribe to this site, available on the right, to keep up to date with events and information on the Ridge Route.

Beyond getting the agreement and key, the roadway is still closed to motor vehicles between the gates. We are still working with the Angeles National Forest to open the road and get it properly maintained. Our maintenance events are meant to be supplementary, not primary. Our work will at least help keep the roadway in place as much as possible for the time being.

November 2019 Update

Finally, some good news! While it is not finalized at the time of this writing, our Volunteer Service Agreement is nearing completion. We got a copy today to review and so far, things look quite promising. We will also be getting a key to the gate, which means we will have access to the road. My first act, after getting the key, is to do a preliminary survey of the road to assess the general condition of the roadway and determine what needs to be worked on prior to the upcoming rainy season.

What this means is that we are planning to do work on the Ridge Route in late Spring 2020, after the rains have subsided. Details on this event will be posted once we get a bit more information together and work out what the event will entail. The agreement does have a few stipulations, mostly regarding how our events will be held and what we can do during them. One of those is that we need to give a list of all attendees prior to an event, as such we will be expecting all persons attending to let us know before they attend.

So, things are looking up for the Ridge Route. Work is still in progress regarding Forest Service maintenance, right-of-way, and land ownership issues. Those will take a while but I have confidence they will be resolved in due time. In the mean time, plan on going on the road in late Spring 2020 and prepare to work!

October 2019 Update

Greetings all. I know it has been a while since there has been an update. Things are progressing, slowly. We are actively working with the Angeles National Forest in obtaining a Volunteer Agreement, which will allow us to get back up there and work on the road. Details of the agreement are still in the works but we should be getting some details in the next couple of weeks. We would have had them last week, but the Tick Fire, Tick Branch 10 Fire, Saddleridge Fire, Val Verde Fire, and a few others have been distracting the forest service as of late.

With these fires in mind, so far the Ridge Route has been unaffected for the most part. Two fires, started along I-5 by cars, did burn toward the Ridge Route a mile or two north of Templin Highway. These were thankfully not during a high wind event, which allowed them to be put out sooner. Please use extra caution in ANY portion of the forest or wild lands during this time of year. We haven’t had any real rains yet, the vegetation is very dry, and the winds can be strong. Gusts today were recorded at over 60 mph at the top of the San Gabriel Mountains above Santa Clarita. Winds in the past have been recorded at near 100 mph at Whitaker Peak, which is just north of Violin Summit where Templin Highway crosses I-5.

Once we get our agreement in place, after this devastating fire season is over, I am hoping to get things going again on the road. Depending on what the agreement allows, I am looking to do a survey of the state of the roadway between the gates. Photos and information will be posted as soon as they can. Ridge Route work parties will also commence, hopefully sometime in 2020.

Opening the roadway is still a work in progress. Many steps need to be taken before it can happen, unfortunately. Funding for maintenance, getting the road back on the maintenance schedule, land ownership issues, and personnel issues all need to be resolved prior to opening the road. All of them are surmountable and many have the support needed. We will keep fighting to achieve our goal of getting the road back open to travel, even if it means the road is open in a limited capacity.